Curse of Eternity is living proof that making a fantastic Souls-like isn’t an easy task. From Software has honed its craft through decades of games, from Demon’s Souls to Dark Souls, taking us on a haunting journey with Bloodborne and delivering a sprawling epic called Elden Ring. With Curse of Eternity, studio Imakeda Games takes inspiration from the classics but seemingly lacks the resources and the keen eye that make a great game, resulting in an underwhelming hardcore RPG that ends up being challenging in all the wrong ways.
Swing and Miss
It’s safe to say that first impressions matter, and in the case of Curse of Eternity, these aren’t the best. From the UI to the gameplay itself, it all screams early 2000s, and not in the positive, nostalgic way, despite the attempt at a cel-shaded art style. The maps are mostly bland, the main characters have these weird, unrealistic poses and animations (the Assassin has her neck sticking out in a way that would make a giraffe jealous), and controls are middling at best.
One could argue that Curse of Eternity is limited due to running on the Unity engine, but that’s not much of an excuse nowadays. Unity powers acclaimed games such as Escape from Tarkov, Cuphead, and Ori and the Blind Forest, to name just a few, so the potential is obvious and it’s a matter of being able to realize it.
This makes some flaws impossible to ignore, from the completely broken hitboxes to the invisible walls that destroy any attempt at immersion. Taking as an example the first fisherman village that we reach, there are many suspended cabins and makeshift tents where a character double your size could easily step into; however, thin air will prove an unsurmountable obstacle, forcing you to go around. It’s as if a series of pre-made assets were placed in a map without any care for collision detection or any logic whatsoever, not to mention that you could want to use these pillars as a means to evade an enemy, something that is obviously impossible.
But let’s rewind to the start of the game, specifically character selection. We have three classes to pick from – Assassin, Gladiator, and Mage – with different attribute types and a proficiency for specific weapons. The Gladiator is obviously stronger than the other two but pays a hefty price by being slower. Oddly enough, the two other allegedly nimble characters are also slow in combat, a persistent frustration that no class will be able to dismiss.
Combat is a crucial aspect in any Souls-like game, and as expected, it takes the spotlight here. The problem is that it’s clunky, slow-paced but not in the tactical way, and it just feels like you are fighting against the enemies but also the system. Everything revolves around managing your stamina, which is used for all the important actions, from sprinting to attacking, parrying, dodge roll, and even spellcasting, as there isn’t a dedicated mana bar. Timing and learning your enemies’ attack patterns is a must, but the drowsy attack speed and the unreliable hitboxes all contribute to a growing frustration that never lets go, even more when most of your enemies are way more expedite in terms of strike speed.
There is no animation canceling, so when you have started a slow attack movement, there’s no way to get out of it. While some weapons are faster than others, the overall feel is that the heavier ones move like you’re carrying the whole world on your shoulders. Finally, there’s something odd about distances; while you may fail a hit with your polearm close to your foe, it may successfully strike you back in turn with a smaller weapon.
Mix, Match, and Rage
Watching your health bar drain is a constant, so you must drink one of those miraculous potions to get back on your feet. But then you realize that your character freezes in place while drinking the flask, which is a major offense in a Souls-like game – the few seconds that it takes for you to gobble up that juice is enough for a minion or a boss to approach you and bash your head into the ground. It’s incomprehensible how this basic feature made it into the game in such a state.
The way that the shards system works is another issue. When you die, these hard-earned shards become liminal, meaning that they won’t remain on the spot where you died; instead, they are absorbed by a special type of enemy that spawns when you have enough shards to level up. This is a painstaking event that will only slow you down even more and require additional grind, as if some maps weren’t demanding enough in this regard.
If for some reason all the above didn’t discourage you from exploring Curse of Eternity, there are a few interesting ideas tucked into it. There’s potential to create some diverse character builds as you level up, with various weapons, skills, and proficiencies to unlock. The maps are filled with tomes that contain the lore of the world, providing some backstory that may be interesting to discover. Finally, there are a few puzzles scattered across the land to break the routine of combats, but most of these rely on the usual rune rotating system.
But all this pales when in comparison to the negatives. The clunky and stiff combat is worsened by an assortment of sound effects that lack the necessary oomph, with the biggest complain stemming from the muffled underwater filter and slow-motion effect that trigger when you are low on health, making the timing issue even harder to nail down, instead of the opposite.
While the work behind a game such as Curse of Eternity is commendable, that alone isn’t enough to ignore its flaws. With extremely slow-paced and clunky melee combat that doesn’t even include animation cancel, this results in a frustrating experience that is worsened by other strange decisions, such as not being able to move while drinking a health potion.
Curse of Eternity isn’t that cheap either, so if you’re on the hunt for a great Souls-like game, better stick with any game from the Dark Souls trilogy – the price may be double, but the entertainment factor is infinitely superior, and you’ll be eternally thankful for that decision.
- There’s potential for some distinct character builds
- Abundant lore, if you’re the reader type
- Combat is slow-paced, clunky, and inaccurate
- Graphics lean more towards bad than retro
- Sound effects are generic and poor