Poysky Productions reached out to GameSpace this weekend with news that they wanted to share with us. The Regions of Ruin publisher shared with us the next project to be published under their name: EONIA. We got our hands on an alpha build of the game and within this article, I am going to tell you what I discovered.
Touted as an adventure in the vein of Morrowind and Myst, EONIA tells the story of young Albius (not to be confused with a Dumbledore), a 15-year old cat-like humanoid celebrating his birthday and coming-of-age. What age has he come to? Apparently, in the world of EONIA, the age of apprenticeship, a la “You’re a wizard, Harry!” Up until this point in my play through, it is less certain what Albius is an apprentice OF, but more of WHOM he is apprenticing: Master Enodio.
While we have not met him face-to-face yet, the Master lets us know via letters and notes that we’re going to have to do a lot of reading and we are not going to like it. Strewn across the land, you will find tomes containing the knowledge to unlock different skills. It is an interesting concept and one that we will come back to later.
EONIA puts a high emphasis on player discovery. This is achieved through reading tomes, as mentioned, and by making observations in the world. As a birthday present, Master Enodio gives you a looking glass and instructs you to find a pen and parchment. With this looking glass and scribing materials, you will be able to unlock skills in cartography and build a bestiary for the world of EONIA. The more you are familiar with the subject matter, the more efficient the skill works.
Even though it is still in alpha, EONIA feel like it have the potential to be a fully realized world with a color palette akin to No Man’s Sky and unique creatures galore. As you explore, each quest comes to you through your observations – you see Albius’ thoughts and questions based on what he is seeing. If you miss the text of your last observation, you can always hit the TAB button to pull it back up. He also keeps a journal with important quest details highlighted in blue. Master Enodio wasn’t kidding about the reading thing.
Because of this focus on observation and discovery, the pacing of EONIA is very, very slow… the zones are sprawling, too! While you can run between locations, you do have a stamina bar which will deplete as you do so. It does recharge at a decent pace even while walking and can also be recharged along with health in a resting area. It does appear that there may be a warp or fast travel mechanic down the line, but at this point, I have not unlocked it.
EONIA is preparing to enter early access on May 24th for $14.99 USD, but there are some glaring issues that I hope get corrected before a full and final release. These are issues that took me out of the role-playing mindset as I played, but I also recognize that we have not yet seen EONIA’s final form.
My first major issue goes back to the books and skills system. It is a different approach to learning new skills, but it falls apart before it starts. Here is what I mean: in EONIA, you possess zero basic knowledge whatsoever. I realize that this is meant to enforce the learning systems, but at some point in an adventurer’s life, between being walloped with ham hocks and hunting rats, they would have observed someone swing an axe or leaning over to pick up a flower. It just feels rigid for a character to find an axe and not know how to equip it or swing it at a tree – even if it’s not very effective. This is so extreme that I didn’t even have any basic knowledge of the fruit that was sitting on my table in my own house! I realize that most teenagers don’t typically consider what they are eating, but the rigid adherence to this system like this would only work in a story where amnesia was at play.
The second major issue right now is a confusing inventory system. There is not much guidance on how to equip gear or use items within your inventory. The organization of inventory categories is amazing, but I have struggled with how best to use passive tools like lock picks – even though I did it once before!
The third major issue that I had was with content gating. EONIA handles this in a gentle way: as you begin to go in a direction you aren’t supposed to at the moment, Albius says: “There will be time to explore later…” My issue isn’t with this particular part of gating content, but with Albius’ capacity for observation. Here is what I mean: after you receive your looking glass and scribing tools, you are instructed to go out and sketch some creatures so that you can compare them in the bestiary and learn more about the denizens of the land. No problem. Here is the catch: at this point, you can only sketch the creatures that have entries within the bestiaries you have access to at this point. If the game’s core emphasis is on observation and exploration, it would be advantageous to allow the player to take down basic information to me confirmed later. In its current state, this content gating causes the gameplay to suffer as you progress and need to identify specific creatures which have not yet been identified.
These observations could be potentially game breaking if left unchecked, but are also the observations of an alpha build of EONIA. It is also worth noting that EONIA is being developed by Geometric Bytes as a solo endeavor which seems to have been in the works for around 2 years. To have a product in this form and of this scale is nothing short of impressive. Yes, it’s imperfect, but I will leave you with a story and slice of history:
I had a mentor who had a obsession with ancient Jewish wedding traditions. At the time, I would roll my eyes when he would bring it up, but now I see why he got so excited about the festivities. I won’t go into all of the details, but there is one in particular that I think is relevant to any conversation surrounding games in their alpha-, beta-, or early access states.
Part of the aforementioned practice went a little something like this:
After a young man would get engaged, he and his father would start work on the betrothed’s house together. Often, the eager young bridegroom would try to rush the process, while his father encouraged a patience and attention to detail for the sake of his bride-to-be. This was a lesson on the loving endurance of marriage, the attention to care and commitment that it deserved.
In this situation, the developer is like the excited bridegroom, longing to share their passion project with us. Its functional and rough, but it has potential to be more than its present state. I want to see EONIA succeed because there aren’t a lot of games any more that put such a high priority on simple exploration and discovery like it does.
So, in this case, I will take on the role of the loving father and say: patience, son. Let’s not rush this… it can be better. You can do this. Why? Because she deserves your best.
Note: Our copy was reviewed on Steam with a code provided by PR.