Aeternum Game Studios have a very interesting project on their hands: Aeterna Noctis. His team has made sure to put together everything we love about an adventure: metroidvania, a lot of action, a lot of weapons, a lot of secrets, a good duration and a powerful anime style.
“The entire team that has started working on Aeterna Noctis will finish Aeterna Noctis.” Without having done crunch, using agile work methodologies to order its fifteen members of art and development, setting up a company in the heat of the coronavirus and with maximum attention on the feedback of its players. That’s Aeternum Game Studios, the Spanish development team preparing its first video game: Aeterna Noctis, which will be released in December of this year. But the great merit of the study is not only the good work environment that Fernando Sánchez Olivera, co-founder and head of QA, describes to me, it is the video game that they are finalizing. Aeterna Noctis is a metroidvania with “inspiration from Hollow Knight; although we have thrown more to anime. There are many references to Studio Ghibli, to old classic anime from the 90s, to the Super NES Final Fantasy … Because the entire squad is from that time and we are players who have played all of that. We wanted to make references to all that we are so excited about, so that it would remind our players why they are also excited; but, of course, without grounding the game base on it. “
Aeterna Noctis is an adventure of action, exploration, improvement and obtaining of skills that is developed through 16 interconnected levels. All the areas are linked through a solid artistic direction to give coherence to so many references: “for example, there is an area with a train and a sea that is directly excerpted from Spirited Awaybut we balance it all with the same artistic flair to give you the special tone and personality of Aeterna Noctis. We can say that it mixes an anime style with a level of detail higher than Hollow Knight and lower than Ori. We balance everything with colors. “What Hugo Gómez, co-founder and director of the title, explains to me, is very reminiscent of the idea of building worlds in other games like Dark Souls: several universes interconnected by the same artistic idea and a story that unites everything. Aeterna Noctis also wants to connect everything through lore; What’s more, he wants to discover the whole story and the heritage of the game to be the key to everything, not just to reach its end.
“We present several cinematics to explain the most key points of the story,” Hugo Gómez explains to me. “We also have the Chronicler, who gives hints with touches of humor and distributes a lot of lore. Another element that speaks of the history of the game is the monoliths that are hidden all over the world. But even if everything is discovered, there is always a lot of room to theorize about what really happens in Aeterna Noctis. “If we play Aeterna Noctis for its playability and the challenge of reaching the end, we will be able to discover 50% of the history. The rest will be hidden in the many side missions and secret areas that the title has. To give us an idea of its duration, Hugo explains to me that an average player can pass the game in 20 hours, “but it will take twice or triple if you want to find out everything. “And because the development team wants us to stay in the game, they’ve put a lot of work into designing their side quests.
The quests hide the story of the game
Something that both Hugo and Fernando have insisted on me is the care with which they have developed the optional tasks of the title. They have explained to me that they hate the typical missions that tell you to go from one point A or another B to find a fishing rod and return. Therefore, it is in its realization and development where that other 50% of the story will be hidden. According to them, the side missions do not repeat themselves and there are no messenger missions. Hugo defined them as “side quest sagas: you go to a site, they ask you to kill a monster, doing so unlocks the option to face a previous boss again but with a variation. You get an item by doing so, and then … “. And the prize will be as much objects, new weapons as lore. And this gathering of data, Aeterna Noctis takes it seriously.
The pace of the game looks great, and both the jumps and the combat are promisingIf you remember the Donkey Kong from Super Nintendo, we had a percentage indicator of all the secrets discovered in the game. Here the achievement system will indicate all the secrets of the game that we have found, as well as the lore discovered. But even if the video game has an art and a careful story, none of this information capture would work without a well measured gameplay. “Aeterna Noctis is inspired by difficult games, for example, one of the ones that has inspired us the most is Celeste and her strawberries. You see the strawberry when you play the level and you think: ‘it’s difficult, but it can be achieved’. you try again and again, you die a thousand times and you end up succeeding. As an incentive to overcome that challenge, in addition to the playable, is that all side quests weigh on the main thread. They give you lore from the main thread, they are not totally accessory. In addition, they have a lot of nods to classic anime and movies. “Aeterna Noctis had a demo, and the team is very attentive to the feedback from the fans. In addition to those 15 development members, they have a QA and testing team to calibrate the game, but it will be a difficult title. They define it as “fair.” We will have a skill tree, passive powers that we will obtain and that will improve our mobility, and attacks and tricks typical of all the weapons that we come across.
All of these abilities bear many similarities to Powers we already know from other Metroidvania, but there is one in particular, very interesting, and that they have collected from Final Fantasy XV. Aeterna Noctis mixes 2D attack mechanics with a lot of platforming and, also, shooter ideas. It is not difficult to guess in his final bosses that taste of Yoko Taro for introducing monsters that shoot colored balls that fill the screen and from which you have to flee. Our protagonist is no less and also features a shot; also with an arrow that can launch and teleport to take its place, as Noctis did in the Square Enix JRPG. The key to the study is to resort to mechanics that have already been seen and give them a twist, taking advantage of them to introduce interesting playable situations. With all these ideas, Aeterna Noctis is a promising video game that, as soon as you like Hollow Knight, Metroid or Castlevania, you are going to like it. It will be difficult, long, full of secrets and it seems clever enough to take all that we like and put it right. The pace of the game looks great, and both the jumps and combat are promising. What we have to discover now, with the game finished and in our hands, is how authentic this title is, if it is able to survive its references and to what extent its story will be interesting. But for now, it has my full interest. Launch is expected by mid december.