Awesome game if you're into slow-paced, open-ended exploration of a huge world with some very basic, relatively low-pressure survival mechanics. Everything about that is right up my alley, so this is probably the best game purchase I've made in the past year. I can understand how the gameplay style might bore or frustrate some players; and while the survival aspect is less than frantic, if you make a wrong move or two, it can also be brutally unforgiving.
Eidolon is a relaxed game and has been described pretty aptly as a "walking simulator." You simply roam the vast landscape (really vast) seeking to piece together the story of what happened to the people who once lived in the area in an apocalyptic scenario and its aftermath. You can follow specific story lines from one clue to the next as you discover them, or you can just explore freestyle.
The graphics are minimalist, but in my opinion they are gorgeous and beautifully successful at evoking the character of the Pacific Northwest. I rarely find myself being critical of the graphics. This is good for people playing on less-than-beefy computers, as the game isn't terribly taxing on resources.
Staying alive in Eidolon is just a matter of eating enough and avoiding sickness or injury. There is really no crafting to speak of, and no building. Mushrooms, berries, and fish (after you cook it) are your staples; it's also possible to hunt for meat if you find a bow and arrow, but this is really difficult and I've only had one successful kill after a lot of trying. You can collect tinder to build campfires. Wounds from fall damage and aggressive animals (wolves, bears) are the main sources of injury, and eating spoiled food or freezing are the main ways in which you can be injuried, as well as from wounds which fester. You *don't* want to get sick from a wound -- the situation can get really dire quite fast.
I've only found one bizarre bug in several hours of gameplay, and that was a deer that got stuck in the side of a hill at the very beginning of my game and couldn't seem to get out. The animal AI behavior is a little "blocky" and unnatural, but I didn't find this to be a serious problem since interaction with animals is pretty rare on the whole.
Things I love about Eidolon:
- Sparse graphic style and massive open world work well together in this particular context
- The documents and maps that you find are beautifully designed and rendered
- The writing with respect to the characters and their stories is excellent, some of the best I've seen in a game
- Soundtrack and audio are atmospheric and appropriate to the game
- The survival mechanics are not unnecessarily cerebral and convoluted just for the sake of being fancy, and are fairly realistic, e.g., it's a low-key piece of cake until something awful happens and then you're f****d.
Improvements I would suggest:
- A slightly (not greatly) more involved system for hunting and fishing. As-is, it's so basic and easy as to be unrewarding, particularly the fishing.
- The graphics for manmade structures are not up to par with the graphics for natural flora and fauna; the discrepancy is pretty damn glaring at times.
- A more nuanced system for moving from one story clue to the next. The clairvoyant "Now that I've seen this, I magically know to go *this* way" thing is a cop-out; a little more intensive writing and design centered around the maps and documents themselves would be more realistic and engaging. This was the only aspect of the game that broke my sense of immersion.
- Some reviewers have suggested that the game needs more density of interactivity overall; while I agree that this wouldn't hurt, the sparseness and slow pace are part of the game's basic aesthetic and I wouldn't want to see that sacrificed for the sake of giving bored people "more to do." So maybe a few more interaction possibilities, but just a few.
- I also think this game could benefit from a slightly more involved cooking system, such as the ability to make a few different basic campfire recipes with different special properties or bonuses for the player (cold resistance, movement speed bonus, healing bonus, that sort of thing).
In short: one of the best games of its kind, and an awesome experience if you're into the genre and don't require a constant life-and-death struggle or lots of shiny, flashy things to keep you involved in a game. Kudos to the producers of Eidolon!