Eternights, a curious title that was previously announced in last year’s Playstation State of Play, was recently featured during the Day of the Devs showcase. We got to try the game out in a hands-on preview during Summer Game Fest and an extended demo shortly after, and suffice it to say, it was quite the experience.
From Studio Sai, this anime-style title with dating elements may seem like an easy thing to jump into, but looks can be deceiving. The game, which can be likened to Persona at a glance, is quite different thanks to its action-styled combat. It feels and plays like it has been made by an actual Japanese studio, but to our surprise, it isn’t.
In our playthrough, we meet our protagonist and we’re joined by his friend Chani. You are being led through an evacuation center where you bump into local idol Yuna and you make your way through the center, which also serves as the level dungeon. Nothing is quite clear yet as to why and how things are what they are.
Combat is quite simple, with attacks, dodges, and the R1 button which increases enemy damage when pressed at the end of a combo. Despite having more than one person following you around, you only control the protagonist so battles are as straightforward as can be. We faced off against the Infected, former humans that have turned into shadow monstrosities, shells of their former selves.
Combat becomes a lot more involved as we go along, utilizing radial QTEs, button prompts, and even your companions helping you out. During the playthrough, combat felt very easy and not challenging at all, although it remains to be seen how much deeper the system can get when faced with more complicated enemies and when more features open up.
As a dating sim, dialog choices allow players to respond to Chani and Yuna, and choices will increase stats such as confidence. We’re not sure how these stats affect the protagonist, but if Persona is the key template to go by, these social skills will affect character affinity, social links, and other passive stats.
The dialog was mostly very crude but also funny at the same time. There’s certainly a charm to Eternights, although it may not seem too obvious until after a bit of playing. The characters are voiced and animated well, and it really adds to the overall look and feel that the game is going for with its anime aesthetic.
Overall, Eternights looks quite promising, but there’s not much to go by just yet based on this preview. Some of the gameplay elements are intriguing, and the mix of a dating sim in the midst of it all is certainly an interesting design choice. We can’t wait to check out the final product at launch.
Eternights is launching on PS5, PS4, and PC on September 21, 2023.