Eterium is a space combat sim in the vein of the old Wing Commander and Freespace games. The influence of Wing Commander is apparent from the get go with things such as speaking to crew members between missions, carrier landings, mission types etc.
For fans of Wing Commander, WC Saga, Diaspora, Freespace, X-Wing/Tie Fighter or space sims in general there is a lot to enjoy here. Functionally the game works very similar to those older classics in both controls and mission design.
Gameplay wise it is a solid sim with enough depth to keep it interesting without being overly complex or simple. You will fly a variety of craft each that feels and handles differently and be able to play around with various weapon loadouts. The dev's have included blackouts and redouts here when you perform heavy manuvers and I like this addition. Also your pilot's head sways when you turn which I think is a lovely touch.
Another excellent feature is that when you are escorting vessels the hud no only displays the vessel you are to protect but also highlights enemies that are attacking that target with a difference colour on the radar. This makes escort missions MUCH easier to handle and takes away alot of the frustation. Combine that with the easy Wingman controls allows you to respond to changing battlefield conditions very rapidly and allows you to focus fire on particular threats.
Your craft is a lot more "squishy" than in many games. This takes some adjusting to much makes the dogfights much more intense and rewarding.
This was the easiest game to setup my T.Hotas X for, the setup screen in the laucher is very helpful and you can see what imputs do what allowing you to quickly setup a control scheme that works for you.
Graphically the game is decent with a slight cartoonish feel yet this lends itself to the vibe of the game. Considering this was a part time project by a 3 man developement team I think the graphics are perfectly acceptable and the handling of the craft feels responsive and unique to each vessel you fly.
The AI is good, acting intelligently and scale up as does the difficulty. Your own wingmen work well and depending on the skill can be a major asset in battle, unlike some games where they are more of a hinderance than a help.
Out of the cockpit your home base and comrades are rendered in 2D, with the characters displaying clear eastern influences. When at base you can navigate to different areas and speak to different crewmen similar to Wing Commander.
There is no dialogue in the game, everything is written in text. While this is fine for out of combat socialising, in combat it makes it harder to determine messages during the heat of combat.
Storywise the game is ok but it throws alot of characters at you very quickly making things more confusing than they need to be, especially since some of them you appear to have a history with. Given the fact that the characters are practically thrown in your face it makes it harder to get to like them. I believe the game would have been better served providing a smaller, more flesh out cast but that is perhaps down to personal opinion.
I also do not like that you are given virtually zero backstory before being thrown into the main story. Combine this with the fact your character seems to have history within the way, where he serves and with certain other characters makes things more confusing than they need to be. An intro story, perhaps in the manual or somewhere giving some insight into the story, who you are fighting and why would be appreciated.
The story and dialogue is ok without standing out. Cookie cutter but enough to keep you engaged and in your cockpit.
Music is ok, does the job.
Overall I find Eterium to be a solid sim especially given it's three man dev crew who made it as a side project. That being said, Eterium holds up well in it's own right. It is not a big budget game but handles well, is fun to fly and is available at a modest budget.
I would recommend this to anybody who enjoys space flight sims.