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    Eternal Threads review

    Need to know

    What is it? A time-traveling detective game in a burnt-down apartment building.
    Expect to pay: $30/£25
    Developer: Cosmonaut Studios
    Publisher: Secret Mode
    Reviewed on: Windows 10, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super , Intel Core i7-9700 @ 3.00GHz, 16GB RAM
    Multiplayer? No
    Link: Official site (opens in new tab) 

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    Time travelers should be able to stop a house fire with ease. All you have to do is fix the faulty electrical wiring, or stamp out an errant cigarette butt, right? This is the situation you face in Eternal Threads, but in this timeline, the blaze’s casualties must be prevented with the power of kindness alone.

    You’re presented with a series of events that take place over the course of a week and imperceptibly add up to the tragic fire. Thankfully, you’re gifted with technology that can slyly edit some of the decisions made between the residents, ideally brewing up a butterfly effect that will get them out alive. Eternal Threads is a showcase of second chances, an invitation to reflect on the times in our lives when we didn’t let cooler heads prevail.

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  • There is a sci-fi veneer that explains the time manipulation. You’re cast as some sort of chrononaut in a dingy future, where time-travel has littered the fourth dimension with all sorts of reality-eroding radiation. It’s all left pretty vague, and Eternal Threads quickly escorts you to a Northern England house in the much-more-relatable year of 2015, where a landlord and a handful of troubled college kids spend the prime of their 20s. 

    From there, Eternal Threads takes the form of a subdued, 3D stage play starring ghostly actors. You queue up one of the scenes dotting the timeline—a midnight game of pool, or a smoke break on the patio—and key into the nuances of this particular group dynamic. Occasionally, your temporal device will chime in and ask if you want to swap in an alternative climax in the action. Maybe, instead of texting his ex in a drunken stupor, Tom thinks better of it and heads to bed. Weave enough of these fragments together, in the correct order, and eventually everyone survives the fire.

    A room might look completely different after adjusting a resident’s decision-making.

    A game like this lives and dies by its characters and the core mystery of the drama, and while the residents of this house are not exactly Beckettian monoliths, I did find myself rooting for them. Without spoiling anything, the solutions in Eternal Threads are generally found by forcing the cast to confront their own inner traumas; Neil has a nasty temper rooted in a tender sorrow, Raquel needs to stop blaming herself for something that is not her fault, and so on. The plot is conveniently structured so that when each of these characters achieves their own self-actualization, they’re miraculously able to escape the building when the flames break out. (If only real life rewarded emotional wellbeing with an inexplicable ability to evade physical catastrophe.)

    As seen on PCgamer

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