Ethereal Legends Game Review

Written by Ashton Johnson




  Ethereal Legends is an indie action RPG made by Soverance Studios, a Georgia developer manned by, well, one man. For ten dollars, players can buy it on Steam. In this game, you are tasked with saving the fantastical Arcadia from Zhan, a mysterious (and rather dull) enemy. Despite four years of effort going into making the game, it’s mostly a flop. But entertainment can still be found in its shortcomings.

   The gameplay itself is enjoyable if you’re looking for ways to exploit its quirks. After figuring out the controls via chicken-torture, you’re ready to defend Arcadia via bow and only bow. Sure, there are swords, but you’re better off spamming the bow. It’s OP.

   Eventually, the combat turns into a cycle of predictable enemies, and thus it falls upon you to spice things up. On any ledge, you can cast a dash spell and slingshot across the map. This makes for an amusing alternative to the terribly slow speed at which your character travels. There are a few features worth mentioning, like a top-down 3D map, an interactive loading screen, and quality chicken NPC’s.

   The Ethereal Realms have a nostalgic graphical charm that explores a lush color palette, and you won’t see any of that in the first level. The game does itself no favors by starting you off in a generic setting. It’s not like you can’t find undead skeleton warriors in every fantasy RPG. But, if you can survive its pseudo Dark Souls combat, you’ll find a portal into various vivid realms—each one with its own theme and boss.

   The visuals are impressive until you realize this was made in Unreal Engine 4, an engine whose prior incarnations were the bread and butter of AAA titles. An indie game as ambitious as Ethereal Legends has a lot of potential, but its successors need to take advantage of such an advanced engine in order to create a series worthy of its title.

   Unfortunately, this game’s crippling flaw is its lack of lore. Considering that “Legends” is in the title, this is disappointing. While it boasts exotic settings, there is no story behind those settings or the characters and enemies that inhabit them. There’s no quest log. Nothing.

   I would have gladly accepted a wall of text so long as there’s some explanation for this world. Ethereal Legends has more plot written in its “about” section on Steam than it does in the entire game.  It plops you in a world and tells you to save it by defeating Zhan, but it doesn’t tell you why. You don’t even know how you fit into the story, which is essential to any role playing experience. At no point in the game did I feel like my actions made a difference, aside from ruining the days of a few chickens.

   Ethereal Legends—provided it can survive the backlash—has a future. Soverance Studios intends to make a series out of this title. Despite its flaws, it’s an impressive feat for any one person to accomplish, but I’d like to see what a team could do with it. Given the time and resources, there is the potential for this to turn into a fantasy epic. Until then, this game will accumulate, at best, mixed reviews on Steam. I can only recommend Ethereal Legends to players who either find humor in faulty games or who’d like to support a local developer.