It’s inevitable that with so many releases back-to-back each week, we’ll have to make difficult and unfair decisions about the games we devote our time and effort to. But even though Aeterna Noctis came out almost a year ago (the candle will go out on December 15th), its recent release on Nintendo Switch gave me the perfect excuse to play it and totally enjoy it. A task (what am I saying, an achievement) that I enjoyed, but in which I also saw clear room for improvement in some aspects. We’ll see it little by little.
Aeterna Noctis is part of this wave of Metroidvania titles that came together between 2019 and 2021. A good set of indie titles that contributed their own essence and knew how to earn a place in a genre that reemerged after years forgotten in a drawer. We are in the land of Eternal, where an eternal battle (wink wink) takes place between the Queen of Light and the King of Darkness. At some point, this endless cycle of balanced battles will be broken and the king of darkness will be defeated, who will be our protagonist in this adventure.
Like other representatives of the genre, we must carefully explore every corner of the different areas while acquiring skills and improvements for our character, through a Masterful platform system with which we will move through the 2D construction scenarios. Each zone is very different from the previous one, and visually it’s easy to locate where you are on the map. Such is the richness of the scenarios that are already almost present in the most advanced parts of the game conveys the feeling of being a completely different title to that of the first hours, although it is also perceived through the development of our character.
A progression that seems a bit flat and uninspired at the beginning of the adventure, because the pace of the game is uneven and the “calm” phases and the more lively phases do not seem to be structured in a pleasant way. But little by little you will develop your powers, upgrade your weapons and gain perks (like health or potions) and eventually you will become an ultra-powerful warrior with endless possibilities. But be careful because the game is relentless and The difficulty He will not give us a single breath. Perhaps that’s another of its most outstanding points compared to other titles in the genre: Aeterna Noctis is very demanding, and every mistake is punished mercilessly. There are sections of movement that must be repeated more often than patience will allow, and not counting the combat, where the game is unbalanced compared to the almost stellar previous points. I declare.
Combat in Aeterna Noctis relies heavily on movement. And although it is noticeable that in this version of Switch Aeterna Game Studio this mechanic turned out to be much smoother than on the first try, when I tried the game on PC Sometimes it’s confusing to understand where the enemy’s hitboxes are and where your own are
Luckily, the setting and the way the story is told help to soften the combat sections where it lacks a bit in the overall experience. The cinematic sequences that unveil the story (with an unexpected twist included) are very original and detailed, with that style as if it were a mosaic. Also worth noting is the translation which, even if it contains enormously complicated sections, makes it very pleasant to move around the environment thanks to the visual style. Game developers are well aware of this, which is why save and respawn points don’t penalize character death as heavily. In Aeterna Noctis they are much better distributed than in other demanding titles such as Dark Souls or Hollow Knight. Maybe even too benevolent in that regard, but I see it as a logical choice because that’s how the confrontation with the enemies is designed.
Aeterna Noctis presents a challenge that seems made for the seasoned players of the genre looking for an extra point of challenge and a long, challenging adventure, with a platforming element superior to most Metroidvania today and a combat system at the same time time to get used to and to improve, but that will also not become an insurmountable obstacle to see the end credits of the game. A first title for a studio that we hope will continue to be remembered with other titles.