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Legends of Ethernal review for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One


Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Natsume
Developer: Lucid Dreams Studio
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

Every single time I started playing Legends of Ethernal, I fell into a pretty predictable pattern: I’d play for a couple of hours, get bored, and stop playing, and then I’d come back to it and realize I’d forgotten everything and had to start over again. If it happened once or twice I’d chalk it up to my own short attention span, but by the fourth or fifth time, I have to lay some of the blame on the game.

In the game’s defense, Legends of Ethernal is built around a thoughtful story that really requires you to play for several hours and get invested in the main character, a young boy named Wilfred who’s trying to rescue his parents. Along the way, you have to kill all sorts of vicious creatures — and — SPOILERS AHEAD — at a certain point, the game starts calling you out for being so bloodthirsty. It’s an interesting twist, to be sure, and it kind of makes you think about some of the tropes the game is built around. END SPOILER.

Or, at least, it would if it weren’t for just how aggressive literally every enemy in Legends of Ethernal seems to be. Even playing on relaxed mode, I could barely take a few steps without something flying out of the sky or jumping out of the grass, trying to kill me. What’s more, if you leave a screen and come back to it, you’ll discover that the enemies have respawned, and are just as aggressively trying to kill you. In fact, even when you die several times and the game offers to help, it doesn’t do so in any way that makes it easier to any discernible degree.

What’s especially frustrating about this is that the combat and the hit detection is so all over the place. Your weapon swings are fairly imprecise, verging on useless, while meanwhile, even the most basic enemies can swoop at you and knock off some of your health while you flail ineffectually. There’s surely something in there about the nature of combat and learning to fight as a young boy, but it’s frustrating enough that you’ll probably ignore the message and focus on the annoyingness of it all (or, at least, I did).

I get that Legends of Ethernal is really trying to be heartfelt in its story, and tries back that up with “hand-crafted” graphics that are supposed to make you feel all warm and fuzzy towards the game. But it undercuts the vibe it’s going for with a punishing difficulty level and lousy combat. Maybe that’s enough to win over masochists with a soft spot for a very specific art style, but personally, I think I’ll just pass.

Natsume provided us with a Legends of Ethernal Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: C+