Eternal Threads is a first-person story-driven puzzle game developed by Cosmonaut Studios and published by Secret Mode. It’s releasing May 19, 2022 on Steam with PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch versions delayed until later in 2022. This is a very clever game of time manipulation, choice, and consequence and it’s a very intriguing premise, and a lot of fun to play through. Fair warning though to light sensitive gamers, there are a lot of flashing light sequences in this game.
You play as Operator 43, a recently qualified time-travelling operative working for the Second Chance Project. In May 2015, six people tragically died in a house fire. You are tasked with going back in time to a week prior to the catastrophic event, observing conversations and altering character choices and decisions to try save them all. You cannot simply prevent the fire itself from happening, not because it would be too easy, but because the butterfly effect would have repercussions further down the timeline.
You are given a handheld device which allows you to travel anywhere along the timeline of events in that week prior, with many known events that you can watch play out and potential events yet to be unlocked. If you’ve played games like Tacoma, this will be familiar to you as you walk around the burnt shell of the house, you will see silhouettes of the characters conversing and moving around the room you’re in. You can interact with items from that point on the timeline but can only pick things up like keys to unlock doors in that scene. Once a door is unlocked at one part of the timeline, it is unlocked in future time points.
It’s fantastic to see the relationships between the characters build as you get to know each of them and watch their connections to each other grow or spread apart based on decisions you alter. There’s laughter, awkwardness, regret and sadness all throughout the game, but many of these emotional outcomes can be altered giving better, or sometimes worse results. Your first decision at the start of the game is whether Tom, the house landlord, should call the vet for his pet budgie or not. If you want to follow the story of a particular character, you can filter events on the timeline by selecting their icon at the top.
Later, a university student called Niall has collected the house mail. You can choose to look through the pile or not, which reveals one of the letters is for Ben which creates a storyline to pay attention to as he interacts with girlfriend Jenny and other characters. The connection with the characters makes you want to save them all, which is the goal, it’s just not as easy as it sounds when on decision could drastically alter others, which added to the intrigue and intensity throughout.
There were times where I noticed a character putting something away in a drawer, and later I could look the drawer to find a key, or a phone with text messages that gave further context to the conversation I just witnessed. There are many passive points in the timeline where you just watch and listen to the dialogue. The voice acting is well done and believable for the character types, and you listen for clues and statements. Then in the next scene, you connect the dots to what is happening, or could happen soon.
At various points in Eternal Threads, you will be shown a choice of two options that affects the characters in that scene. Sometimes it’s just two people conversing, and other times there’s more. A dialogue choice that you make will have a ripple effect in the future and connecting sequences of events for those characters is represented as a dotted line link on the timeline. Highlighting that decision, then following it into the future shows events that are directly affected by that decision. If you didn’t like a decision that you made as it may have upset a character or turned the narrative in a direction you don’t prefer, you can just go back in the timeline and change that decision which will update the timeline and unlock new sequences or give alternate options further along the timeline.
This means that you can play the sequence of events in any order you wish. I started at the very beginning at sequence one, but you can travel anywhere along the timeline that has interactive points and go from there. You could even go to the final sequence and then work backwards in time to see what caused each event and how decisions affect them. It’s all very intriguing and will mean one player’s version of events will differ to the next.
Overall, Eternal Threads is an exciting butterfly effect style narrative game that has so many ways to interact with and change events for the characters. By not being locked into linear decision outcomes gives players great flexibility, freedom, and confidence to try things and see how they play out on the timeline.
This review utilised a Steam key provided by Secret Mode. Eternal Threads will release on Steam on May 19, 2022, and is in development on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch for release later in 2022.