Title: Eternal Radiance
Release Date: December 15, 2020
Reviewed On: PC
Genre: Action RPG
JRPGs are a preferred genre of mine, yet I can’t deny many of them feel incredibly mediocre with almost no noteworthy selling points. Eternal Radiance is one such title. While there are a few bells and whistles that would ordinarily enhance the overall experience, it lacks the foundation that unfortunately sours the entire affair.
Eternal Radiance stars the protagonist, Celeste, a squire knight of the Ashen Order. She’s a studious, dutiful, and determined young lady if a bit of an airhead. After being given a mission that also acts as her initiation to be recognized as a true knight of the Ashen Order, Celeste must journey outside her comfort zone and learn more of the world around her. She makes some friends along the way and ends up on a quest for self-redemption for a life-changing error that occurs.
Eternal Radiance is half Visual Novel and half JRPG exploration and combat. The title begins with the former. While the writing is not masterful, it does an adequate job of establishing some key characters’ personalities, motivations, and relationships. The art is also gorgeous, with there being beautiful CGs, uninspired yet breathtaking environments, and attractive women. At around 30-40 minutes in, depending on how many NPCs you choose to talk to and how fast of a reader you are, you will eventually find your way to the combative section of the game. This is, unfortunately, where the title begins to fall apart.
Combat in Eternal Radiance is straightforward to a fault. You have a weak attack and heavy attack with Celeste’s sword, along with several skills you learn through leveling. There is also a Talent Tree, which houses various abilities Celeste can learn to suit your playstyle. You can also alter Celeste’s armor, weapon, and accessories just like any standard JRPG. The best comparison for this title’s combat would be that it plays similarly to a Tales of game at first glance and feel. Before I get ahead of myself, there are smooth, quick transitions between weak attacks, heavy attacks, and skills to the combat’s credit.
However, there is a fundamental flaw in bringing all of that down, which is this title’s lackluster performance. Despite this clearly not being a demanding game to run, there is a constant stutter during exploration. In my experience, this stuttering effect was not dependent on how many enemies were on screen. It was just constantly there, rearing its ugly head, even when I was simply running around with no enemies in sight.
This, unfortunately, hampers the combat severely and makes the already repetitious nature of fighting feel like a chore. The combat itself, while not exactly bad in hindsight, gets tiresome quickly. The area design does not complement the hordes of enemies well. Most of the time, it seemed like there were just tons of enemies in random spots of the map because why not? There was little thought put into how encounters should be, and due to that, it became a spam fest.
Additionally, if you simply tilt the camera downwards, it clips through the floor, and you can clearly see textures that you are not meant to see. The ease at which anyone can do this is both humorous and disappointing.
However, there is some clear, genuine effort put forth despite it all not working out in the long run. Enemies have mostly clear telegraphs, and there are even a proper guard and quick-dodging mechanics, rewarding the player for timing their reactions appropriately. There is even a mechanic to customize your weapons. However, as stated earlier, the stuttering effect alongside the poor enemy placement ultimately ruins the prospective boons these bells and whistles would bring.
The map sizes are rather large, and while they contain several treasures and the like, I honestly grew fed up with the substandard performance and just b-lined straight to story objectives. I was expecting the bosses to absolutely obliterate me since I was skipping out on tons of enemies, but much to my surprise, the bosses, weren’t all that difficult. The mountains of enemies you can potentially kill are far from necessary for basic progression, at least on Normal Mode. You can also simply spam healing items during the boss battles, too, which, in all honesty, pretty much ruined whatever tension and challenge these fights would otherwise invoke.
The towns in Eternal Radiance are not explorable and merely have lists of NPCs you can talk to. While not a massive detractor from the experience, I can’t deny that the lack of explorative civilization did take me out of properly immersing myself with the town’s plights and central characters. Select characters do provide sidequests, which were quite welcome, even though they are relatively mindless in execution.
For the most part, they all basically consist of finding appropriate items in the combative maps and killing certain numbers of enemies. There is an element of this title that greatly impressed me admittedly, that being the soundtrack. There is an incredibly well-done score here for the combat scenarios and general wandering segments. The boss tracks were, in particular, extremely hype-inducing and got me pumped up, even though the battles themselves were lackluster.
Eternal Radiance tries to be something it really should not. I can respect it trying to incorporate JRPG like elements into the overall experience, but the lackluster way it was all done brings the package’s quality down. The Visual Novel side of the title is not revolutionary or superb, but there are some genuinely moving, tension-filled moments.
A good chunk of the characters have decent depth, and there are some heart-filled character exchanges. If the title were solely a Visual Novel, it would have been a far more compelling experience, in my opinion. Even optional conversations can be triggered in areas, which are very similar to Skits in the Tales of franchise. These are incredibly brief, but they bestow entertaining character interaction, which is always a plus in my book.
Eternal Radiance is not an awful, irredeemable game by any means. While I lashed out at it for most of this review, it clearly had authentic effort poured into its creative elements. Unfortunately, however, its bells and whistles don’t do enough to justify some of the subpar elements of this product.
It all just falls short of what could otherwise be a decent, engaging adventure. I just did not find myself having fun with the combative scenarios. That, coupled with the weak performance, brings the title down a good number of notches. The title is fairly short but is also priced rather modestly. If you are mildly curious, feel free to pick it up. If you can stomach some of this title’s frail aspects, you can find yourself enjoying a beautiful, hearty adventure.
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