There are few studios that I’ll give a chance regardless of the game they made, but ACE team is definitely one of them. From the creators of Zeno Clash and Rock of Ages comes a survival game unlike anything I’ve played before. I’ve never been keen on games that focus on survival, as I don’t find the management of hunger, water, and item degradation fun. There are tons of games people love that I can’t because of these features. However, I was hopeful I’d find something more in this.
The Eternal Cylinder has you controlling a race of creatures called the Trebhum. Their existence is threatened by this gigantic cylinder which stretches as far as you can see, rolling and destroying everything in its path. I didn’t read much into the game before playing, so I thought maybe this was a randomly generated rogue-lite type game. It’s not, and it’s all the better for it. The game will save every minute or two in case you die, and you can make manual saves as you do different things or find the perfect setup. There is a blue barrier that you’ll cross which initiates the eternal cylinder’s path of destruction, and you have to reach the next set of towers and activate them in order to stop the cylinder. If you roll past them or don’t make it in time, it’s game over. Luckily, you have that recent save to try again.
What I appreciate about all the saving is that it respects my time. Instead of having to start over from the beginning and try and learn what I did wrong by the time I reach where I was, I’m able to troubleshoot it right away and progress. This may seem obvious and standard, but it really seems that’s not the case in recent games. This is actually the first game I’ve gotten to play with my daughter watching from start to finish because she’s so enthralled by it. In addition to wanting to dress up as various characters from it for Halloween (including the titular cylinder), we’ll play pretend games about it with her toys, with a water bottle typically playing the role of the never ending destroyer.
What really grabbed me about the game at first, and how I was able to hook my daughter (not easy), was the creature designs. The team is no stranger to crazy creatures, and that’s one of the reasons I love them. The game is absolutely stunning because of their signature style. But the thing that kept me coming back for more was the lore. Most survival games are just that – surviving. There is rarely a narrative that captures me, and with gameplay I’m not a fan of already, I’m out within the first hour. That is definitely not the case here. It’s not far in that you see something behind the cylinder, causing a sense of wonder and mystery. The narrator only adds to that with how he describes it. It escalates from there as you encounter the cylinder’s increasingly worrisome servants, learning more about the world from the Trebhum Elders, and your encounters with the Mathematician.
As you’d expect in a survival game, you do have gauges to worry about, including stamina, energy restoration for your stamina, which you build up by digesting food that it’s in your stomach. So that’s three gauges, on top of the water gauge. Of course, you also have health, as you’ll be up against the elements, and a large assortment of crazy things that want to hurt you. What sets this apart is the ability to consume items that then change your Trebhum. You will collect the little guys and find that you need them more and more as you progress – not just as extra lives, but as holding special mutations, such as cold or heat resistance, being able to start a fire, hovering, high jumps, swimming quickly, swimming without running out of stamina, etc. Each also has their own inventory slots, so they will no doubt become pack mules. However, there are yellow lights that will sap you of your mutations, which becomes less of an issue as you obtain the ability to basically learn the mutations by building up a skill tree through collecting items and mixing them. You can also level up all your gauges in the same shrines where you learn the recipes for the mutations. So despite being a survival game, it gives you a way to bypass some of the more frustrating features, assuming you’re willing to take the time to do so.
Sadly, the game is not without its faults. As you might expect in a world this large, with as much craziness that inhabits it, there are bugs. There are lots of bugs, and I don’t mean enemies. From falling through floors, getting stuck in walls, to enemies just mystically flying away, and some of my Trebhum clan disappearing when loading up a save, the game is far from a completely smooth experience. One of the most notable issues was after a boss fight; I was to collect the items in his head to progress the story by mutating. As I was finding a Trebhum with inventory space, he just disappeared and was nowhere to be found while the game tried to progress without me having the chance to mutate. Needless to say, I had to fight the boss again.
My experience with this game has obviously been special because of the connection with my daughter over it. That aside, this is a great little game that I think anyone who enjoys lore, mystery, and survival will dig. There’s so much going on in it, although it becomes much more manageable as you progress and learn more about the world. And with Halloween just around the corner, The Eternal Cylinder may very well become a Halloween staple.
8 out of 10
- Learning Mutations
- Gorgeous World and Creature Design
- Engaging Lore
- Frequency of Autosaves
- Lots of Glitches
- Necessity of Autosaves due to Progression Blocks
The Eternal Cylinder was developed by ACE Team and published by Good Shepherd Entertainment. The game is available for PC, PS4, and X1. The game was provided to us for review on PS4 and played on PS5. If you’d like to see more of The Eternal Cylinder, check out the official site.
Here at GBG we use a rating method that you are more than likely familiar with – a scale of 1 to 10. For clarification, we intend on using the entire scale: 1-4 is something you should probably avoid paying for; 5-7 is something that is worth playing, but probably not at full price; 8-10 is a great title that you can feel confident about buying. If you have any questions or comments about how we rate a game, please let us know.