The Unlikely Heroes

HIGH A living world with diverse ecosystems.

LOW The story is stretched out a bit too long.

WTF No colorblind mode in a game that emphasizes color?

I remember my first encounter with The Eternal Cylinder in March, when it was still in Early Access. My initial impression was that it was had a sickly sort of gruesome aesthetic, yet there was a beating heart beneath it that caught my attention. Now that I’ve been through the full version, my opinion has changed – that heart is still there, but now I think The Eternal Cylinder’s world is beautiful!

In The Eternal Cylinder, players control adorable creatures called trebhums which are as defenseless as babies. The only thing these bipedal cuties can do (at first) is roll away from danger and squirt water from their trunks. Unfortunately, their world is threatened by a gigantic Cylinder which is rolling over the terrain, crushing everything in its path. Of course, the trebhums must stop it in order to survive. Halting such a huge danger initially seems futile, but there are greater meanings behind this apparently simple setup.

The power of trebhums comes from numerous mutations caused by consumption of plants and animals. These mutations give them defensive, offensive and exploration capabilities, and players need to expand their herd’s diversity for success — they can grow things like long legs for higher jumps, or fin-shaped legs for swimming. This experimental nature of mutations will encourage players to explore the world and gather a wide array of abilities.

Not only is this diversity necessary for the player to get past hazardssuch as toxic environments, minions of the Cylinder, or carnivorous free-roaming creatures that swallow trebhums whole, as the game goes on it’s shown that this is not the story of an all-powerful hero, but an experience about the power that comes from cherishing the differences of every member in a community, showcasing how valuable these differences are in helping everyone move forward.

The intricacy of The Eternal Cylinder isn’t limited just to the trebhums and their varieties. The world contains well-designed ecosystems, each with diverse flora and fauna — from tropical jungles to cold and snowy plains or hot and deadly deserts, each area is ripe for exploration and for discovering how the trebhums will adapt. It was a bit disappointing to see that there wasn’t a lot of emergent activity, though. Although each land is full of life, I didn’t see much interaction between inhabitants. The predators sometimes run after small creatures, but that seemed to be the extent of it.

The campaign might feel a bit long and most of the quests are errand-based (trying to find trebhum Elders is a frequent one) but thanks to the narrative’s symbolism and some incredible plot twists which I absolutely cannot spoil here, The Eternal Cylinder is one of the most meaningful and profound experiences I’ve had in the past couple of years.

After spending time with the full version. I’m glad to see that my favorable impressions of The Eternal Cylinder in Early Access panned out. This title is full of new ideas, design that is coherent with its larger ideas and it offers an attempt to draw attention to real-life subjects such as social diversity, just like a true work of art.

Taken in total, The Eternal Cylinder is an unforgettable experience.

Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed by ACE Team studio and published by Good Shepherd Entertainment. It is currently available on PS4, XBO and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and was reviewed on PC. Approximately 14 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: This game is rated Teen for Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood and Partial Nudity by the ESRB. The rating reads as follows: This is an adventure game in which players control a herd of alien creatures as they explore and survive on an alien planet. From a third-person perspective, players explore the planet, gather resources and materials, and evolve their bodies to survive hostile environments. Some evolutionary upgrades give players the ability to fire projectiles (e.g., seeds, water sprays) to attack predators. Damage is indicated by Impact sounds and enemies collapsing to the ground and disappearing. One sequence depicts a snake impaled by a spear, accompanied by brief blood-splatter effects. Some humanoid creatures are depicted with exposed buttocks.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available. I can’t say for sure, but there are some visual cues such as red shades of light and a lack of graphics settings which I suspect may cause some difficulty for some players with colorblindness.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: The game has subtitles. They cannot be resized or altered. No audio cues are necessary for playing, so this game is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: Yes, this game’s controls are remappable.

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AJ Small
1 year ago

Hey, I would point out that the game sign posts certain elements within the game with audio cues (for example minerals that can be used to level up) and these elements are not marked on the map.

These are not essential to beat the game and they can be found without the audio cues but those audio cues do add an element that will be lost to those that hard of hearing or deaf.

Nonetheless – good review, and I like your take on diversity being a strength message of the game!