Length: Short (1 – 2 hours) [only including Eternal Hour: Strings of Fate]
Lewdness: 2/3 (Several Kisses, Consensual Sex)
Price: IT’S FREE
Summary: Play through a timeless adventure as Yasu or Rin Fujimoto and discover the origins of Eternal Hour! Eternal Hour: Golden Hour is a fun, emotional, and story-driven Visual Novel that takes place before the events of Eternal Hour (Steam store description).
Review: As noted by the aforementioned description in the Steam store, there are two parts in this prequel to Eternal Hour. I’ll be ignoring the part where you play as Yasu Fujimoto, which is Eternal Hour: The Lost Date and will only be reviewing Eternal Hour: Strings of Fate, in which you play as Yasu’s aunt, Rin. Cute little rhyme scheme they got going there.
I’m making this conscious decision to overlook over half of this prequel because I frankly have very little interest in visual novels that aren’t yuri these days. Sorry about that.
Straight off the bat, it’s readily apparent that Eternal Hour: Strings of Fate is a Western visual novel. Now, the fact that a visual novel wasn’t produced by a Japanese company doesn’t automatically mean the game is terrible. Just take a look at Highway Blossoms and Starlight Vega, which are two very good Western visual novels. The thing is, both stories stick to taking place in America / a place that is not Japan.
However, Strings of Fate has trouble deciding whether it should accept or reject its identity as a Western visual novel. It takes place in Japan but the small town they live in is called Tokya even though Tokyo is a bustling city center capital, for instance. The names also follow the Western naming convention order (i.e. First-Name Last-Name instead of Last-Name, First-Name). Overall, it left behind a feeling of insincerity and of fakeness.
Furthermore, the lines are voiced in English! Personally, I always prefer subs over dubs, but I did give it a shot before turning off the voices 3 minutes in. I just personally felt that the voices didn’t fit the characters at all. In regards to the art, it’s fairly pretty until the story reaches the one intimate scene. And then it seems like the illustrators blundered on drawing Rin’s face / forgot about the concept of perspective/ decided to reveal that they never learned about anatomy. At least Rin and her lover, Megumi, are breathing during said initimate moment which makes them seem more “real” despite looking off-model.
It doesn’t even stop there. The game makes ample use of time skips which means we don’t get to really witness any sort of romance brewing between Rin and Megumi other than the two women mentally note / verbalize that they think the other woman is cute. That’s all we get before they end up kissing weeks/months later. This is a textbook example of telling, not showing. The inner monologue is prone to this, as well. Admittedly, visual novel protagonists usually think things through internally, but there’s no sense of subtlety. All of Rin’s feelings are laid bare which makes for boring reading since players/readers are given essentially everything and don’t have to infer anything at all.
On a more positive note, I liked the UI and found it bright, straightforward, and cute. I also wish we could have seen more of Rin while she was dressed as a biker rebel babe. We only get the one opening scene with her and then she’s hidden from the player cam (which makes sense since she’s the point-of-view protagonist). When Rin does show up later in the game, she’s changed out of her biker gear and is either bikini-clad or sans clothes. Give me more of this rough-around-the-edges Rin, please. The music OST isn’t anything particuarly special, but I do like how we click on the “Music Room” and listen to each track (and they come with titles!)
Ultimately, this is a side story to provide backstory for a side character as Yasu, Rin’s nephew, is the protagonist of the bigger part of Eternal Hour: Golden Hour as well as the protagonist for Eternal Hour. So to deliberately overlook Eternal Hour: The Lost Date means I’m very likely missing out on the main meat of this intellectual property in order to focus on what is essentially a demo. The fact that there’s no opening credits or closing credits sort of paints Eternal Hour: Strings of Fate as such, too. But as I said earlier, it can’t be helped.
There’s certainly worse visual novels out there, but, as a whole, Eternal Hour: Strings of Fate is subpar and mediocre when it comes to yuri romance. At least it’s free, I guess.