a time travel jump that just almost makes it

time travel mechanics can make for some unique experiences, like the narrative puzzle game Eternal Threads. It follows Agent 43 as they are tasked with traveling back in time to 2015 in order to prevent six people from dying in a house fire. However, it’s not that simple. Agent 43 can’t stop the event from happening but has to engineer a series of events that enable all six housemates to survive the inevitable blaze.

When Agent 43 is beamed in front of the house, they are given a Time Map with over 150 individual events across multiple timelines to watch. By selecting an event, the player must travel to the part of the house and see how it plays out. Some events allow Agent 43 to pick how a housemate will respond, thus potentially altering future events that are available for viewing.

The inside of the house does a great job of being creepy, but not to the extent that Eternal Threads feels like a horror game. It’s dark and foreboding inside, but there aren’t any jump scares or anything chasing you down like Mr. X in Resident Evil 2 Remake. Players are able to explore the house and digest scenes at their own pace.

Eternal Threads. Credit: Cosmonaut Studios.
Eternal Threads. Credit: Cosmonaut Studios.

The six characters have good enough backstories and relationships to make them interesting. Tom is the landlord of the house, Ben and Jenny are a couple, Linda and Neil are siblings, and Raquel is Jenny’s best friend. They also deal with personal issues that players can help solve while coming up with a way to save them from dying in the fire.

While the cast of characters is enjoyable enough, it can’t stand on its own without Eternal Threads’ overall time travel narrative keeping my attention. It’s mostly due to the voice acting; it’s not bad, but it’s not the best I’ve heard either. A decent amount of lines are delivered flatly and sometimes don’t capture the full emotion of scenes.

Eternal Threads. Credit: Cosmonaut Studios.
Eternal Threads. Credit: Cosmonaut Studios.

The Time Map itself is incredibly helpful, providing a summary of each event and highlighting which ones can be viewed next. Players can watch them in any order—while players will intuitively go from left to right, they also have the option to start with the ones at the end of the timeline where the housemates can perish. This option truly gives players freedom in how they want to solve the overall puzzle. Additionally, each of the characters in the Time Map has an icon showing whether the choices the player has chosen ultimately end up saving them.

Choosing certain responses during events can also move household items around. For example, in one early event, I chose Linda to tidy up her room, which moved the guitar left behind by the previous tenant to the basement. The other choice just simply left it in Linda’s room. Eternal Threads makes it fun to navigate the Time Map to see what kind of repercussions there are for your decisions.

Eternal Threads. Credit: Cosmonaut Studios.
Eternal Threads. Credit: Cosmonaut Studios.

The biggest problem is Eternal Threads’ cliffhanger true ending. Without going into spoilers, it sets up for a possible sequel or possibly some story DLC. However, there were some other dangling story threads that went unanswered and left me confused at the end.

Why were we tasked with saving these six people? How are they so important? We’re never really given the answer to that. Throughout the game and exploring the house, you’ll discover a twist within the time travel narrative, and also that there’s more than meets the eye with one particular housemate. These two aspects were incredibly enticing and kept me on my toes. Unfortunately, one of those never really seems to go anywhere.

That being said, Eternal Threads is a fun time-traveling puzzle game. Admittedly, it is a slow burn at first watching different events and not knowing how they relate. However, by the end, you’ll frantically change events in the timeline as you figure out how everything comes together and makes sense.

Eternal Threads launches on May 19 for PC and for consoles later in 2022. We reviewed it on PC.

The Verdict

Eternal Threads takes a while to get going, but once everything falls in place, it can be hard to put down. The time travel element also really helps elevate the experience. It’s just that the game’s cliffhanger true ending left me unsatisfied and didn’t do enough to tie all of the narrative threads together.

Pros

  • The story introduces unexpected and interesting twists
  • Characters have depth in their own personal issues
  • The story introduces unexpected and interesting twists

Cons

  • The story takes a while to get going
  • Voice acting is average
  • The game’s true ending can be an unsatisfying cliffhanger for some


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