Blossomsoft’s Eternal Eden is an epic role-playing game in the tradition of Aveyond. The player controls up to four characters who set out to correct a sin that threatens their once-idyllic world. During this challenge you’ll encounter giant spiders, slimes and other creatures that look as though they’re straight out of the worst possible nightmare. The game is a blend of combat, puzzles and lengthy – but fortunately witty – dialogue.
The world of Eternal Eden is a peaceful place, with wealthy and happy inhabitants. The Princess is just celebrating her 900th birthday and as usual she will plant a solitary kiss on the man who is able to give her the most delicious pie. Driven by jealousy and ambition, Downy decides to commit the worst possible sin in order to win this competition – he steals the Fruits of Wisdom from the topmost floor of Eden Tower, thereby breaking the only rule created by the unknown "Father." Everybody seeing the reference here?
After eating this unique pie the princess suddenly turns into a horrible beast, clouds darken the blue sky and the rain is heavier than ever before. Noah, Downy and Jean decide to find the princess, hoping to somehow save her life and restore the world as they once knew it. The story might sound a bit cliched and melodramatic, but the amusing, true-to-life dialogues between Noah, Jean and Downy and numerous twists avert the typical "I already know what will happen" plot.
Besides the dialogues, you have to explore the world which includes caves, dungeons and mountains. Later on you are even able to travel by ship and visit different islands. Everywhere you will have to fight against hostile creatures represented by white fog. In most cases it’s up to you if you want to fight, but since the members of your party gain experience by defeating monsters it’s usually a good idea.
This experience is one of the key elements of the game. Gaining a certain amount of experience causes the character to reach a new level, which means new skills and higher health points. The development of your party’s members is of major importance to defeat stronger enemies, and battles become complex and involve strategic thinking later on. You cannot save the game whenever you want to, but fortunately there are enough save points scattered throughout Eden to stave off potential frustration.
The game also features a very addicting component – the collection of items like weapons, potions, spells and other hidden objects that appear as a red exclamation mark when a character walks on it. Admittedly it sometimes gets tedious to explore every little corner, but the curiosity and the ambition to find every possible object is definitely compelling.
Switch puzzles provide a nice distraction with a slowly increasing difficulty level. A really cool feature is the so-called Turtle Hunt, where you have to find different species of turtles on an isolated island, where the weather is changing and day and night alternate. Moon turtles only appear at night, cave turtles live only in, guess what, caves, and to catch water turtles your party has to learn the ability to swim. The more turtles you find, the higher Turtle Hunter-rank you will reach.
The characters might be a bit one-dimensional in the beginning, but they develop genuinely during their journey, and they definitely grow on you. When Jean repeatedly boasts about his greatness only to act like a little child in the next moment, you won’t be able to repress a smile. The unexpected changes in the storyline are capable of holding your interest as well as a good book does.
Unfortunately Eternal Eden lacks any kind of map, which is perhaps the only frustrating aspect of the game, because various dungeons and mountains with their similar looking passages can be confusing. It is also a pity that the players can’t control how the characters skills develop (they are improved automatically at each new level), but this aspect may only bother hardcore fans.
On the whole, Eternal Eden is a worthwhile experience for every role-playing game fan and people who enjoy engaging stories. The different challenges prevent the game from getting boring, and the item collecting and party members learning new skills could not be more addicting. Once you get used to the old-fashioned-looking graphics and the long walks you might really appreciate this little gem.