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Eternally Us
Eternally Us
Developer:Ben Chandler
Platform:PC
Genre:Adventure
Release Date:May 2010
Article Posted:August 2010
Grade:4.5/5
System Requirements


Cue music. Cue birdsong. Location: A park bench on a beautiful summerís day. Scene: Two best friends, Amber and Fio, enjoy a day out together doing nothing more taxing than feeding the birds. Unfortunately, this idyllic situation is about to be shattered by a piece of devastating news. Fio has a terminal illness and death is about to rip apart a friendship that has lasted since childhood; twenty-five is much too young to die. And no, itís not fair, but it is reality. Death does not discriminate, one bad hand and itís all over. Surely, this cannot happen to such a beautiful person - but it does.

And Fio is gone.

This is an Interesting premise, no doubt about that, but is the subject matter too dark? Playing adventure games is supposed to be entertaining. Itís supposed to be fun. Right? Eternally Us has just five locations and a similar number of puzzles, and that information is certainly not going to raise collective pulse rates. Even a novice player should be able to complete the whole thing in well under an hour. So, is it worth hitting the download button?

Oh, yes. Most definitely, unequivocally - yes.

This story is about understanding grief and how to come to terms with the ensuing emotions. Somebody once said, the only thing guaranteed in life - is death. So, letís step through the five screens and see where they lead. In the first screen it is summertime; the world is bright and life is worth living. But in this game, nothing is ever what it seems; even the puzzles have a meaning. To progress you have to feed a single bird, a bird that is no longer part of the flock. It is isolated - like Amber. Solve this puzzle and death will appear in the guise of a malevolent, redeyed spirit, and Amberís journey will begin.

The second screen is a depressing, rain swept rooftop. The puzzle is simple enough; Amber must find the key and open the door. But solving this puzzle is not about gaining an object; itís about understanding human nature and defining emotional responsibility. Every action has a reaction. Listen to the two spirits when they speak, every word is relevant. Look beyond the obvious. Seek the truth - it is within you.

The third screen is probably the most difficult to negotiate because the purpose is not immediately obvious. Amber finds herself trapped in a swamp. You must disturb the two trees in the swamp and allow her to ask the questions. Without dialogue, she cannot progress on her journey. She wants something, but nobody has what she wants. It is an exercise in futility because she asks for the impossible. Her feet can take her everywhere - and nowhere. Dust to dust, ashes to ashes.

Amber arrives in the fourth screen from above and lands in a heap at the feet of death, who teases her. Why has she learnt so little? Why does she persist in continuing this futile journey? It is now winter and snow covers the ground. Everything is chilled. Bleak. Hopeless. A locked gate bars the only exit. Amber must find the key that not only opens the gate, but also dissipates the darkness within her soul. To solve this puzzle she must wait. Patience, cold, cold heart, the answer is in your own hands.

The fifth screen opens in the fall. Autumn. A time of change. Rebirth. Acceptance. Solve the puzzle, which involves a squirrel and an acorn, and a cut scene will provide a resolution. Everything Amber has done in the previous four screens will now make sense; her journey is complete. She may not want to hear the brutal truth, but at least she now understands it - and so do we.

Ben Chandler designed and drew the graphics for this game and they are stunning. Each beautifully crafted scene adds a sense of depth to the narrative, slowly drawing the player into Amberís world. The visual effects, rain, snow, falling leaves, drift magically across the screen with jaw-dropping clarity. It is no surprise that this game won the AGS Mags competition for April 2010. Also included in the download is the file WINSETUP. Tick the box run in a window to avoid any resolution problems. There is also an option to select the graphics driver and filter of your choice should you encounter problems with the default setting.

When you listen to the subtle sounds in this game, birdsong, falling rain, soothing music, you might imagine that it took an office full of professional programmers and musicians to produce these effects. And youíd be wrong. Stand up and take a bow Steven Poulton who programmed and scored the whole thing. The music, a simple melody used sparingly in a couple of scenes, adds a haunting quality to the whole production. A perceived weakness in games like this is usually the voice acting, which can range from the ridiculous to the laughable. No such thing here. The voice acting is exceptional and blends seamlessly into the production.

The game controls are uncomplicated. The left mouse button allows Amber to use things; the right mouse button allows her to examine things. When she picks up an item, it goes to the inventory. Move the mouse to the top of the screen to access inventory items. If only all games were as simple. There are also options to save, load and quit.

I couldnít find a single fault with this game. Yes, itís short. Yes, it has limited game play, but it delivers. Eternally Us is about dealing with the realities of life and death, and thatís something none of us can avoid. Iím sure Hollywood could take this story and turn it into a two-hour tearjerker. I hope they donít; a short animated film would suffice. In the meantime, the game is free and is available for download from this address.

   



PC System Requirements:
OS: Windowsģ XP / Vista
CPU: 500 mhz
Video card that supports 16 bit 640x480 resolution
The WINSETUP.exe file allows adjustment of graphics and sound settings.