Eresys is the second title by independent Greek developer Ares Dragonis and is self-published by Dragonis Games. The game is a co-operative horror game in which a team of up to four cultists must wander through a spooky world inspired by the cosmic horror works of H.P. Lovecraft.
This game was released on Steam Early Access on April 20th, 2023 and is (at the time of writing) using Unreal Engine 4.26.
Previously, Dragonis Games released The Shore, a single-player narrative horror experience with the same Eldritch theme. The game recieved fairly good reviews and Eresys appears to share a lot of the same DNA as the former. If you have ever played Phasmophobia or Slender: The Eight Pages , you'll be in rather familar territory as the game is played in a first-person perspective and jump scares are a recurring element.
While the game is intended to be played as an online co-op experience, it does have a single player mode, where you play through the game alone. However, there are gameplay elements on the map (such as the headless 'revival' statues) which become unused and the game is invariably more punishing -- mainly as you do not have any support and you are forced to carry everything you find yourself.
Before we continue, we would just like to point out again that this is an Early Access title, the developer released the product early in order to get feedback from the community on how the game should develop. As such, we will not be giving it a review score. There are elements missing (such as a map system) and it lacks performance optimisation which would usually be done far later in production.
When you start up Eresys, you are presented with a text-heavy screen named the Cult Guide which pretty much explains everything in the game. This can be referred back to at any point during the game (although it must be said that the game cannot be paused, even in Single Player mode). Reading through this is essential as the game doesn't hold your hand at all at any other point.
Launching into a game will put you in a hub area named Temple of the Council. This is where players will appear once they have connected to a session and from there you can select a mission and then start the game proper. There is also a separate area where any collectables you find will appear here. Again, if you've ever played Phasmophobia you'll be familiar with this kind of set-up.
At the minute there is one mission in which you are sent to Sentinel Island, collect pages of The Book of The Council which are scattered throughout the map. You need to gather at least 30 in order to complete the mission. The book is used in order to wipe out the Lovecraftian beings from the area and send them back to their own accursed domain. However, you also have to create Blood Spheres by using empty vials, filling them with victim blood and then converting them at an Altar.
The Blood Sphere gameplay element is also what appears to drive the A.I. enemies aggression. You need four, but each time you create one the map becomes darker and more and more Eldritch nightmares will pursue you.
When played in a group, resources can be shared amongst other players. There is also a voice chat system built into the game which can cause monsters to hear you if you speak too loudly near one (hint: use Discord!)
One player will be in charge of holding The Book of The Council. The book can be equipped in the right hand and its pages will glow green whenever a missing page is located nearby. However, a green glow is also put around most other interactable stuff in the game world.
The core idea behind the game is to stealthily wander the map, avoiding monsters and collecting the book pages, as well as creating the blood spheres. Obviously, care must be taken in order to complete the mission successfully, but the game will mess with you the more tasks you complete.
While there is no way to combat the monsters directly, the game features an Elder Scrolls-style stealth system (complete with a similar 'Eye' system) where you can easily tell how screwed you are. Encountering a monster is quite jarring as they tend to be very quick and they are also paired with a heavy, pulsing distortion effect on the screen (this kind of thing has also been done before in games like Amnesia or Penumbra). You do have the ability to resist the monsters with the use of a lantern, but not all creatures will be effected by this. So, usually the best course of action is to try and evade it and remain in stealth.
Early in the game, you will probably encounter a deer. When you approach it for the first time, it will spot you and then crack its neck back in a creepy way. Then it will make a loud sound and then scamper around. This then draws the attention of a small horror (which looks to be like a shub-nuggurath) which will basically make a beeline for you.
Thankfully, there was a lighthouse nearby and I just assumed that it would be safe as it was indoors. I could hear the creature skittering around outside and the screen continued to distort over and over. When the game does this it is quite difficult to navigate. After a few moments it seemed to give up the chase and disappeared. Looking around outside, it was gone. [Update: There is now an option to reduce this effect in the game settings!]
That wasn't too bad, but once you've collected a few Blood Spheres.. oh boy. It gets quite a bit darker outside (and your lantern doesn't last forever!) and there are more and more beasties on the prowl.
Going back to the deer though, I encountered it again and unfortunately it just did the exact same animation and movement. I would hope that things like this will become more varied in a full release as the horror disappears with something you've seen before.
If you're expecting jump scares to be in this game, you'd be right. Aside from the cosmic horror, you'll also be blindsided by things screaming at you and flying into your field of view. These things are harmless, and is the kind of thing I would expect to see in a TikTok reaction video of something.
The map itself is very large and is really hurting for the inclusion of a map system. There aren't many obvious landmarks and the view distance is obscured by fog (and later, darkness). It's kind of difficult to pinpoint where you need to go at times, especially if you need to backtrack at all. [Update: There has now been an enhancement to a landmark in the game, which should help people navigate easier, by looking up to the sky]
If you are killed by a monster, you become 'downed'. The way you are brought back is kind of interesting, but also a little frustrating - you have to cut off your ally's head and then place it on a special headless resurrection statue. It's a cool idea, but then again maybe a more immediate resurrection system would have been more appealing. If you're playing in Single Player mode, you're just dead.
So, final thoughts? Admittedly, this game doesn't really do anything new and I don't feel like the scope is big enough to offer anything special. However, if you like the Lovecraftian theme and like suspense-driven horror games you should give this a go. Audio visually, the game is really impressive, the developer is clearly a great artist and the sound effects, ambience etc fit perfectly and escalate as things become more intense.
Graphics (although there are a number of assets which look incredibly low poly - we're just going to assume this is to be fixed!)
Great sound design, as mentioned earlier.
Getting into a game is straightforward, although the onboarding may prove too much for some. Thankfully, there aren't a ton of things to keep track of in the game.
Performance. The load times are really fast. You'll find yourself in a game very quickly.
Developer is keen to gauge the thoughts of the community and implement changes quickly.
Single Player is a welcome option but the game isn't as entertaining without your friends.
The game borrows a lot from other games and doesn't really offer anything new.
A few performance niggles, but these should get ironed out over time.
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