The lineup of games showcased during last night’s PlayStation State of Play was a clear W for gamers from all walks of life, whether they be VR vampire dommy mommy enthusiasts, roller derby fanatics, or fighters who’ve finally crossed the street into the open-world. However, one game’s journey joining PlayStation’s stacked roster of game announcements was as anime as its own wacky premise. That game being Eternights.
Eternights, developed by Studio Sai, is a hack-and-slash JRPG that takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where a mysterious infection transformed humans into rampaging monsters. As you can see from its announcement trailer, Eternights is chocked full of all the things that make a JRPG great: You’ve got your cool protagonists with magical powers, dungeons riddled with traps and puzzles, and trusty party members who you can hold down the R2 button to hold hands with while watching the sunset–wait (checks Steam page) Oh, Eternights is also a dating sim. Right on.
Yes, that’s right. Love bay bay. Alongside Eternights blitzing anime-esque JRPG action, you’ll also be “fighting for those you love” in your downtime, scheduling dates and growing closer with the boys and girls in the apocalypse. After all, you’ve got two hands that can apparently grow back from dismemberment; why shouldn’t you use them to fight for a cure for humanity while also holding hands with one of the five cute survivors in your party?
Alongside some moderately spicy visual novel artwork during romantic scenes, Eternights also has 2D-animated cutscenes that change depending on which girl or guy you date. But time is of the essence. You can utilize it by deepening your relationship with your companions while also unlocking new skills (just like in real life), scouring the land for live-saving supplies, or simply saying “miss me with that BS” and Leeroy Jenkins-ing yourself into the first dungeon you see. To each their own.
If you’re thinking that a JRPG that doubles as a dating sim sounds awfully similar to the works of the Persona series, you’d be correct. In fact, after playing Persona 5, Persona 4 Golden, and Persona 3 FES, Eternights’ developer quit their job as a technical artist at Apple to pursue making their game.
Growing up playing games Final Fantasy VII, FFVIII, and FFX, Studio Sai founder Jae Hyun Yoo told Kotaku that the time spent building deep romantic connections with a small group of characters while dealing with the real-world time management of a calendar resonated with them the most.
“Creating those experiences [in Eternights] was [my] main desire,” Yoo said.
Yoo has an impressive resume. Prior to Apple, he worked as an engineer at Thatgamecompany and as a FX animator at Walt Disney Animation Studios. To give you an idea of Yoo’s chops, he worked on Elsa’s dress transformation in Frozen, portal magic in Big Hero 6, and the pixelated destruction of Sugarland in Wreck It Ralph.
The first footage the internet ever saw of Eternights was in a 2019 r/Unity3D subreddit post by Yoo. Back then, Eternights went under the project name Kafka and was described as Persona meets Devil May Cry. Jae posted the game having a calendar system, time management, and relationship-based gameplay with its RPG bits replaced by hacking and slashing.
Outside of fielding questions about 3D model rigging and sharing inspirational videos from Persona series director Katsura Hashino, Jae posted a series of updates on Eternights. These updates include Persona-inspired character introduction trailers, early animation cels of the trailer’s My Hero Academia-inspired punch, and battle footage.
“I remember my mom being worried about [Eternights],” Yoo said. “I guess she was relieved a bit yesterday.”
Nothing’s more anime than coming into your own after finding inspiration from the greats that come before you. Plus, having your debut game showcased alongside the likes of Final Fantasy XVI and Resident 4 Remake is pretty nutty.
“I hope you’ve enjoyed this first look at our debut game,” Jae said in a PlayStation blog post. “As a storyteller, I’ve always wanted to mix a love story with adrenaline-driven action. I wanted players to have a strong, personal reason to drive them forward in combat encounters and to feel they were fighting for more than just their own survival–they were fighting for those they love.”
Eternights is poised to carry the torch from Persona like gaming’s Prometheus passing on the fires of combat and romanceable party members with the masses. I can’t wait to hold hands and–dare I say smooch some waifus and husbandos–oh and also save the world when Eternights releases.
Eternight is slated to release in early 2023 on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and PC.
Updated: 6/3/22, 5:30 p.m. ET: This post has been updated to incorporate responses from the developers.