STAFF REVIEW of Eternal Hope (Xbox One)

Friday, July 8, 2022.
by Peggy Doyle

Eternal Hope Box art There is just something about Indie games that I love. Especially the ones that find a way to invoke strong emotional responses in just a small amount of time. The ability of the gaming industry to tell such emotional tales has come such a long way in recent years, and I think these types of games have really seen a surge in popularity. Think Limbo, Ori or Life is Strange for example. These types of games find a way to leave a lasting impression on the player long after the credits roll. Every time I think Indie games can’t catch me off guard anymore, another game comes along and finds a way. Such is the case with Eternal Hope, developed by Brazil’s Doublehit Games.

Eternal Hope is a fairly simple 2D puzzle platformer that was available on PC last year and has now made its way to console. Spread out over eleven chapters, this relatively short game grabbed hold of my heart less than five minutes into the game. Doublehit has stated that Studio Ghibli films were an inspiration for Eternal Hope, and I think that inspiration is obvious from some of the characters you see.

The prologue is simple and straightforward. You play as Ti’bi, a young boy who one day finds the girl of his dreams (Hope). They fall in love and then one day she is taken from him in a tragic accident. Ti’bi is heartbroken and in mourning when his thoughts are interrupted by a mysterious voice. This is the keeper of souls who promises to bring Hope back to life if Ti’bi helps to locate the scattered fragments of her soul and bring them to a temple. From here you embark on an emotional roller coaster as you traverse the world finding the soul fragments and completing puzzles.

With the assistance of the Keeper of Souls who promises to help you, you are given the power to call for help from the An’mu, creatures from another dimension, who will assist you in climbing and getting through areas that you couldn’t on your own. When you activate your power you can see secret entrances, paths, branches, platforms etc. Some of the actions you need to do can only be done in one realm and not the other, so you have to know when to switch back and forth. This is the core mechanic in Eternal Hope and moving across areas often relies on switching back and forth in a timely matter to avoid falling.

You will also see mysterious souls to collect as you play as well. This special power is on a stamina bar though, so move quickly once you activate it. It replenishes automatically and will fill very quickly. If your stamina bar depletes while you are in a hidden area, it will close on you and you will die. Thankfully there are many save points in game and you won’t have to backtrack very far. The first time you use your power you will also encounter a tiny fairy like creature named Heli. Although Heli doesn’t do anything game wise, they provide the lore and commentary to you as Ti’bi is silent.

Most of the puzzles involve trying to find a way to just keep moving forward. You may have to move a rock or vase to find a switch or lever. You may need to find a way to break a cage and have that animal break something else for you (also while avoiding being hit by said animal). Some puzzles are more complicated, like trying to find your way through a section of underground mazes using switches and levers while also trying to avoid large monsters or goblins. The puzzles do involve a bit of trial and error at times as you determine exactly what you need to do. I found some were hard to figure out but not entirely frustrating. Explore, die, learn, try again is the mantra. Thankfully when you die, the closest save point isn’t going to cost you much time. My biggest issue with the puzzles wasn’t with how to complete them, but simply my reaction time wasn’t as quick as I would have liked or needed it to be. I am not sure if this is an issue due to controller vs keyboard, or simply my old reflexes. Also of note, to jump in Eternal Hope, you use the 'B' button. I found this slightly unusual as I am used to most games using the 'A' button instead.

The entire game took me between 4 and 5 hours. One of those hours being the last chapter alone. Playing through a second time, I was able to complete it in just over 2 hours. Eternal Hope is absolutely stunning. The main character is adorable and the backgrounds create a sort of rich painted tapestry behind the action. It is very dreamlike and surreal, fitting with the story in a beautiful manner. The backgrounds of blues, greens and purples contrast nicely to Ti’bi who is basically black with a white scarf (or cute white mask when using his power). One little thing that I loved in the animation was Ti’bi’s scarf. As you ran along, it flew behind you, giving a real sense of motion and movement. Such a small thing, but it was impactful. The scarf also becomes a parachute later in the game that can be used to avoid falling from heights or to ride wind currents.

Eternal Hope also uses cutscenes that look like they could be from a children’s book. They help move the story along and help fill in some of the more emotional components. There are a few other things about the animation that I noticed. It’s easy to distinguish who is friend or foe in the drawing style. Rounded, smooth characters are friendly while more jagged and pointed characters are bad and trying to hurt you. Also, the living world was more brightly coloured, while the shadow world was more muted in its colouring.

What Eternal Hope lacks in originality of its gameplay it makes up for in heart. It’s a story of love, loss and redemption. Ti’bi, like a lot of us, is just struggling to keep moving on and moving forward. Clever dual dimension gameplay and a simple but emotional story make this a great little game if you want a heartfelt adventure to get lost in for a few hours.

**Eternal Hope was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 7.7 / 10
Gameplay: 7.5 / 10
Visuals: 8.5 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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