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Eternal Eyes (PlayStation) artwork

Eternal Eyes (PlayStation) review

"One could make the argument that the game accomplished what it set out to do in providing a generic, affordable title. Eternal Eyes's issue isn't that it didn't succeed at what it attempted to do, but that it set its standards way too low. No one aspires to be an average singer, a mediocre actor, or a ho-hum painter with the cost of little training or devotion. Even at a discounted price, no one wants mediocrity."

Take Tactics Ogre, slice out most of the strategic elements, toss in concepts akin to Pokemon, and then biff it hard on the translation. The end result is the decade old budget title Eternal Eyes, yet another hackneyed adventure where you guide a teenage swordsman prodigy on a quest to prevent the resurrection of a dark deity. Our platinum-haired hero has the ability to transform puppets into monster servants using jewels. Amassing a small contingent, you then pit your creations against a slew of other creatures in a tactical battle royale, with more jewels as the spoils of war. Toss them at your beasties to permanently boost their stats, teach them spells, or even evolve them into more powerful monsters at certain levels.

This is a serviceable premise, one that leads to small entertainment value in the beginning. With many different jewels to collect and creatures to use them on, there's a variety of possible combinations for experimentation. However, the premise wears thin by about chapter two. Evolving creatures becomes a huge joy killer when you realize it's the basis for the entire game and you have the rest of it ahead of you.

It's not that evolving monsters becomes dull, but that what your servants turn into isn't worth the effort most of the time. Evolution is only entertaining when you're cranking out mean-looking monstrosities like the grim reaper-ish Joker. Usually you'll stumble upon something painfully generic, overly cute, and/or downright stupid. Some creatures resemble disembodied puppy heads with bunny ears, and others are cutesy-eyed stock enemies--adorable bats and dopey lizards.

At one point, I checked a FAQ to guide my creatures' evolutions. I had no pictures to go by and based my decision on interesting names, settling on one called Hawking. The name invoked images of either a super-intelligent being (a reference to Stephen Hawking) or an immense raptor with mighty hooked talons for rending prey (hawk-king). What was Hawking actually? A purple animate broom....because there's nothing more menacing than a sentient household cleaning item.

Those complains are all about cosmetic aspects of your troops, and sound like nitpicking. However, there isn't much more to each creature than cosmetics and stat differences--each one geared for either melee combat or magic usage. There are no special abilities besides magic, and every creature learns the same spells. Where tactical games benefit from having a decent range of classes, Eternal Eyes sports about two or three with little to differentiate one from the next.

Without special abilities, battles are reduced to basic 'fight' or 'magic' commands. You would hope for elaborate level designs to help accentuate the strategic aspects, but will find your hope dashed after a few battles. A level might feature a bridge or a few elevated areas, but most of them are uncomplicated grid-based stages. There are no obstacles, environmental hazards, traps, areas that bestow strategic advantages... Nothing that pushes combat beyond push and shove. Most every battle can be solved by walking up to opponents and selecting 'fight' until they've all perished, breaking once or twice to heal.

Positioning doesn't matter. While attacking from higher ground does increase damage, approaching from behind is no different from striking an enemy head-on--either in terms of damage or hit rate. You can win every battle effortlessly, using the least of your mental capacity to take out the opposition. This only furthers the painfully generic feel set by the game's premise and rogues gallery.

The only excitement in battle is experimenting with the large array of spells, especially higher powered ones with their own grainy CGI cutscenes. These puppies will give you a whole new outlook on Eternal Eyes. You'll cast the spell Excalibur, which summons a colossal tome. Another spell called Tenlogos, whose description speaks of calling forth a mighty book, conjures a giant sword from the sky to fall upon your opponents. One spell describes the invocation of a great evil from the darkness. This 'evil' is a cute anime girl who opens a heavenly gate in the sky. There's also a spell called 'Heaven's Gate' that summons a demonic force from the depths of an abyss. It's comical the way so many spells are mistranslated and exchanged for their polar opposites, yet also confusing and frustrating. No one wants to cast a fire spell that freezes enemies, or a water attack that electrocutes the opposition. This takes the 'generic' feel one step further down the ladder into the realm of 'cheap'.

That's the most succinct way to describe Eternal Eyes. It isn't only bland, but cheaply made like an off-brand product: Sam's Choice Tactics, if you will. One could make the argument that the game accomplished what it set out to do in providing a generic, affordable title. Eternal Eyes's issue isn't that it didn't succeed at what it attempted to do, but that it set its standards way too low. No one aspires to be an average singer, a mediocre actor, or a ho-hum painter with the cost of little training or devotion. Even at a discounted price, no one wants mediocrity.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (January 28, 2012)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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EmP posted January 29, 2012:

Own this game. Imported it at great cost. Never played and now I never will.

Thanks, Joe. Now I blame you and this tardy review for the bucket of Money I spent bringing this over. Ironically, I think I picked this up alongside Chrono Cross and Thousand Arms. So I'll consider it a cursed purchase, every inch.
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threetimes posted January 29, 2012:

I actually played this to the end. Quite enjoyed it despite all the hate it gets. But I'm not sure I'd feel the same say now. That was at a time when I had a dearth of RPGs to play.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted January 29, 2012:

Ouch. It's kind of ironic that you paid good money for a budget title. And not a good budget title like some of the ones available on Steam or XBL these days, but a crappy one from the PlayStation era.

I will say, though, that I've been curious about Battle Hunter.

I actually did enjoy this game somewhat the first time I played it. I think I had rated it 6/10 before. Unfortunately, this game hasn't aged well at all. It's a functional game, but its biggest drawback is how boring and generic it is in comparison to the rest of the genre.

Before, I had made the 'budget title' excuse to justify keeping it and playing it. Now, though, when I think budget title I think of games like Bastion or From Dust, which pretty much showed that you don't have to sacrifice quality for affordability.

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