I had to pull myself away from Eidolon in order to write this review. The day I got the game I didn’t even realize I had played for hours until I heard the door open when my husband came home from work. I looked around and realized that night had come and the house was already dark. I was so absorbed into the game and story that time just passed by.
Eidolon, developed by Ice Water Games, takes place in the state of Washington in the year 2400. Something has obviously changed from now til then and nature has taken back everything. As you explore the landscape you find white cubes that give you new tools (binoculars, a bow, a fishing rod, etc) and green cubes that give you information (letters, journals, newspapers, maps, etc). You must survive the wilderness – making sure you eat when you are hungry and rest when you are tired. If you fall from too far of a height you will sustain injuries. There are animals like deer, lynx, bears and foxes that you can hunt but be careful because some of them will fight back.
The Physical World
Eidolon is stunning, breath-taking, and gorgeous. It’s minimalist, but not so minimalist as Proteus or MirrorMoon, but not as realistic and detailed as Dear Esther. It fits a nice space between all of these titles both in its art style and its gameplay. The mornings fill the valleys with mist and in the afternoons you can watch the clouds bubble over the mountains. Sometimes I’ll wake up in the middle of the night in-game and look around to find complete darkness until I look up and see a field of stars on a warm, glowing sky.
Eventually you will come across decaying relics of Washington’s past. Skyscrapers, cars, electrical towers and even bones dot the landscape. I found these eerie for a few reasons – first for what they signify: our world as we know it torn apart, reclaimed by nature. Second because they are possibly the least detailed objects in the game. It took me a few minutes to realize there were cars and skeletons I was passing and not chunks of concrete and small stones.
At this point in my experience with Eidolon I am much less interested in the survival aspect, though it does make trying to find lore fragments interesting. You end up eating tons of mushrooms and berries with the occasional fish. There are some unfortunate realities that come along with survival – when you get sleepy you can’t run as fast; store food in your pack for too long and it goes bad; sustain a wound from an animal and it can fester and make you sick. To me these are just a hindrance keeping me from my goal of discovering as much as I can about the history of this place.
It took me awhile to figure out that while I could just wander aimlessly until I found new information and maps, I could actually send out a little flare that would lead me to another lore fragment. I think this is great because if you’re really into exploring and surviving you can focus on that and stumble on information occasionally. However if you’re like me and get really drawn in to the story elements and history you can focus on finding it. At first I was focusing on exploring but I think after finding my second or third journal entry the English Literature major in me took over.
Like I said at the start of this article, I had to tear myself away from my pursuit of knowledge in the game to write this review. The first journal entry I found certainly piqued my interest. But when I found another letter from an entirely different person, I became hungry. I went straight from one letter to the next, devouring the little fragments of history and lore.
When you hover your mouse over a letter, keywords show up underneath that you can click that send out flares in the direction of the next letter pertaining to that keyword. Each letter, journal, map and newspaper gives you a little more insight into the world around you and the people that were once there. I’ve always been a fan of post-apocalyptic literature, games and movies. Finding out what happened for the world to get the way is definitely my favorite part.
I recommend this game to anyone who loves exploration or survival games. The tools you acquire are limited enough to make constant survival challenging as you move through different areas with different resources. The beauty of the landscape is phenomenal and watching it go through the stages of day is quite an experience. I also highly recommend this game to anyone who loves uncovering stories and histories in games and literature. The way the information drips down to you in these green cubes is just enough to satisfy your curiosity but little enough to keep you seeking the next cube.
This article originally appeared at orttimusprimetime.com and was published in August 2014. Since that site got shut down I am now re-hosting my article here. Also, I think in the final version there was a bit more to the article but this is the only version I have saved. Freelance protip: save the final versions of your articles to your own storage so you don’t kick yourself later.
The game key for this review was bought with my own money.