When I first heard the title Eternity: The Last Unicorn, I half hoped that the game was somehow inspired by Peter S Beagle’s popular fantasy novel from 1968. Nope. Instead, Eternity: The Last Unicorn is an action-RPG the story of which springs from Norse mythology and gameplay that echoes Dark Souls and its kin. Unfortunately, whether by design — apparently, developer Void Studios was going for a “classic” RPG vibe — or not, The Last Unicorn feels like the kind of game that would have been relegated to the budget bin of your local game store a decade or more ago.
The biggest bummer is the fixed camera, which the developers have touted as a “feature,” that makes the entire play experience feel awkward and frustrating because it obscures enemies and makes combat and exploration less than enjoyable. Imagine any boss encounter in Dark Souls without the freedom to move the camera around the arena. While nothing in The Last Unicorn is as intense or unforgiving as in From’s games, enemy encounters and basic situational awareness suffer. There is a reason that no game still uses a fixed camera, especially action games.
Most of the trappings of recent action-RPGs will be familiar, from weapons and crafting to upgrades. Play switches between two characters: Aurehen is a young Elf woman with magical and ranged abilities and Bior is a Viking warrior with a preference for big weapons. Each has a normal and heavy attack and special abilities as well as the important ability to dodge — which provides The Last Unicorn’s combat with some invincibility frames, and the most important tool for surviving. While combat in Dark Souls and other action RPGs in the genre often feels like a ballet — or at least a dance — between hero and enemy, the encounters in The Last Unicorn lack weight or precision, and quite quickly grow repetitive. Low-level enemies appear out of nowhere and their animations are rudimentary at best. Additionally, there needs to be some significant re-balancing, as bosses in particular have absurdly high HP and combat becomes a grindy chore that rarely feels fair or exciting.
Although Eternity: The Last Unicorn is colorful, imaginative and occasionally crisply rendered, there is little personality or detail to either the main characters or the core story, or the world’s enemies. Nor does there seem to be much rationale for the appearance of specific enemies in the world, many of which are stock, fantasy-RPG tropes and nothing more. Entirely without voice acting, the story is told through subtitles and chapter text, although the characters do have an annoying and repetitive battle-cry. The music is a genial and gentle, Celtic-flavored score that, too, outstays its welcome as the loops repeat and repeat.
In a serious need of additional development, bug-fixes and testing, as well as ditching the misguided fixed camera, Eternity: The Last Unicorn plays like a medley of solid action-RPG mechanics and ideas without much depth or polish. The setting, characters and story are its saving grace but their charms are overshadowed by the game’s repetitive and sluggish combat and the annoying camera. Calling a game’s mechanics “classic” is no excuse for gameplay that is simply not very satisfying or fun.