Yes, it is I, your humble writer once again. Sorry for the long delay but things have both been happening and not happening in my life that have kind of zapped me of all my energy to write. One problem with being me is that I kind of need to be inspired and I suck at finding my own inspiration, it sort of just comes to me. Might seem weird to need inspiration to write a review but that’s the joy of having my own site, I can do as I please. And do as I please I will as it’s time to review Eternal Journey: New Atlantis. A game that looks like it might be from the early 2000s but is, in fact, merely four years old.
It’s time for yet another Five-BN game and if you remember my last review of one of their games, you’ll hopefully remember that it was a pretty spectacular game. In fact, it remains one of my favorite games to this day and is one I often use to measure other games against. It’s what opened my eyes to Five-BN but I haven’t been getting into their games as much as I should have at this point. Partly because there are so many other HOPA to play and partly because they haven’t done that many games and I don’t want to go through them too quickly.
But after some time I managed to dig up one of their very first games, Eternal Journey: New Atlantis.
Eternal Journey: New Atlantis
(Five-BN Games, 2012)
200 years ago you died. During an excavation of Atlantis, the dome separating the ruins from the rest of the sea shattered. You stood no chance and drowned. Now, 200 years later you’re back, having been saved by future, now current, medical technology after spending the last two centuries in cryogenic storage. And just in time too as new ruins have been discovered… on Mars. Dubbed New Atlantis, you’ve been called in to help in the deciphering of the runes found there. But when you arrive you find nothing but a deserted station. You are alone… or are you?
Though not necessarily their first game, it is the earliest I’ve been able to find so far and it pleases me greatly that it was a sci-fi game. Far too few HOPA are made with a sci-fi setting and from what I can tell it was received well. So damn, good job, Five-BN! And though I may have had an inkling of an idea that it was a sci-fi game, I never thought it’d be THIS much of a sci-fi game, taking place on Mars and spaceships and everything! So it was a big, pleasant surprise, I have to say.
That aside, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It’s true that I greatly enjoy Five-BN’s games, I dare say they’re one of my top three HOPA developers. But I’ve only played three of their games so I could just have been lucky. Plus this one looked old. I mean, it is old by comparison, a full four years old, but it looks older than so I thought it might’ve been an early but failed attempt to break into the market. After all, I don’t think it ever got a sequel so…
And at first I was pretty certain it wasn’t gonna be very good. It starts out pretty standard with a cutscene telling you how much in love the main character is. This obviously sets up a story where one of them dies and after a pretty standard tutorial segment, that’s exactly what happens. I expect a portal to another world and a lover who was actually evil and the whole shebang. And… I was wrong!
Minutes later I’m whisked away on an adventure in the future with spaceships and other fun technology that just screams Star Trek or the like. The excuse for her being in the future is… adequate at best but it’s an excuse that I can forgive as long as I get my sci-fi. Why we didn’t just start with a future archaeologist, I don’t know. Didn’t really feel like that was necessary at all, they barely touch upon the fact that she’s 200 years away from anyone she ever loved and the impact it would have on your psyche to think you’re about to die only to wake up in a time and place far, far away.
In a way, the main character is… too strong for the story’s own good. I sincerely disbelieve the majority of people would be able to cope remotely as well as she seems to be doing. I mean, it must take years just to be reintegrated into society again and learn all the technology and history that completely passed you by. Now THAT’S an interesting story.
Of course, that’d be a difficult story to tell in HOPA format but you have journal for a reason, is all I’m saying. The story aside, I adore the setting. An abandoned station on Mars infested with creepy crawlies and an ancient civilization buried beneath your feet, just waiting to be explored? Damn straight I wanna go. And while many other near-sci-fi games disguise their tech in fantasy-like designs, this game is all about the sharp corners and rusty metal. You get to walk around on the surface of Mars (albeit briefly), drive monorails and fix any number of weird machinery, as you should in a good sci-fi game set on Mars.
There’s a good dose of fantasy elements sprinkled throughout as well. No designer can resist making ancient alien civilizations appear almost magical in comparison to our own. So any time you explore the alien ruins it feels like you step into a fantasy story. But it feels appropriate, somehow, though I’ll never understand why so many civilizations with space flight capabilities continue to build things out of stone. At least according to sci-fi authors. Hell, if we ever do find remnants of an alien civilization on another planet (or here!) and it’s made out of metal and stuff? I’ll cry foul immediately!
And it creates a nice contrast which goes a long way to make the game feel less samey which is otherwise a big problem. Not that I think the graphics particularly needed to be changed up here, they were of high quality and there was a good mix of 2D and 3D graphics, especially in the cutscenes.
But it’s also a convenient excuse to not just have a lot of tech based puzzles that would otherwise be the norm. Here you get a good mix of patching wires that makes sense and pressing stone tiles that simply works because it does, stop asking questions, it’s alien, yo!
Prepare for a lot of jigsaw and slider puzzles of various designs but what they all had in common was that they weren’t very difficult. Only one puzzle was skipped but the rest were relatively easy. And the one skipped was less because of difficulty and more because of… well, me. And a lack of patience. I did recognize a few of the puzzles from some of their later games so that might be why I didn’t find many of them challenging… except that one… which we don’t count.
But even if the puzzles were easy I still enjoyed them a great deal which is lucky because… there isn’t much more to the game beyond the story and running around using items in the right places to get more items to progress. As such it’s almost more adventure than HOG, especially since it doesn’t really go heavy on the hidden object scenes, leaving me wanting just a few more. They were reasonably well done but made the mistake of keeping the items already found in scenes you revisit. It’s not really a big deal, it makes more sense than the protagonist removing them yet not taking them with them but it’s so deeply ingrained that items you find go away. So it kind of stands out.
Despite that I’ll remember the hidden object scenes fondly because they were really well done. Items were hidden cleverly and even when I couldn’t find an item, it never felt like I was being cheated. There was also a fair bit of interactivity, some scenes had more than others but it was typically pretty easy to figure out what was interactive and what wasn’t. I rarely had to scroll the cursor all over to find what was interactive and what wasn’t as is otherwise pretty common.
There were also a few, random minigames that came out of nowhere and left roughly as quickly but they were fun diversions.
Another thing that I noticed was the sound. It was… very good, actually. Though the sound effects were pretty much stock, as far as I could tell, coupled with the music and the graphics it all just worked so brilliantly to create an air of dread and fear throughout the whole game.
And I think that’s ultimately what I take away from the game. It’s not perfect, it’s perfectly adequate in most areas and excel in some but it’s really the setting itself that impressed me. I like sci-fi well enough on its own but include some horror in there and I’m all for it. And they did really well with that here. So… thumbs up!
The Collector’s Edition adds a bonus chapter but not a lot more. And it’s an epilogue that doesn’t add much to the story except explain a few things that the main story merely hinted at. It’s pretty much the same gameplay but it’s in mostly new locations and the ones you did revisit were used to explain how things ended up like they did when you went there the first time (or rather second time chronologically). It lasts about an hour and it’s not an unpleasant hour so… make of that what you will.
Ultimately, however, I think it kind of comes down to “how much do you want a sci-fi HOPA?” In my case it was “a lot” so it hit the spot just right. It also uses 3D graphics which… well, you know my love for that at this point so it kind of just hit all the right spots for me. Maybe it will for you too!