Developer: Shirakumo Games
Release Date: May 5, 2021
Generally speaking, I’m not a huge fan of visual novels, but every now and again, one is a bit off the beaten path and catches my eye. As someone who’s also a pretty big fan of animals, Eternia: Pet Whisperer seemed like it would be right up my alley, and when it was included as part of the Itch.io Bundle for Ukraine, I decided I’d give a playthrough for #JustOnePercent.
There’s not much in the way of world building – you start right away by visiting adoptable pets in a shelter. You can always choose to check out your apartment, but there’s nothing to do there, so normally, you’ll be choosing a potential pet to visit with. The first day of the game doesn’t give you any options – you’ll be meeting Connie the Cockatoo. You can save the game from this screen anytime you like, and if there are no available pets you want to talk to, you can always skip the day.
There are six different animals (well, seven but the rats only come as a matched set!) you can choose to spend time with. Completely on script, the first storyline I finished was Brinda, the Border Collie. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a dog. There are no branching storylines in Eternia: Pet Whisperer, you’re participating in the story, but only in the most scripted of ways. Complete a pet’s storyline, and they agree to be adopted by you. Once you’ve adopted a pet, there’s a game over option, but it’s also when the whole thing gets pretty darned weird.
You see, the pets at this particular rescue were all part of a “failed” experiment. Which is why you can communicate with them – it’s a talent they have, not one you have. That’s not all. Apparently, these animals have also mastered the fine art of time travel, apparently solely so you can subvert the shelter’s “one adoption per household” rule, and bring all the animals back to your tiny city apartment.
Now, I definitely read faster than average, and adopting all 6 pets and getting to the end credits took me less than 40 minutes. It was a charming little game, but lack of meaningful choices seriously limits replay value. I would definitely recommend giving it a play through if you grabbed that bundle, however, as the art, music, and dialogue is all well done & interesting throughout, even if it is a little off the wall. All the animals have unique personalities, and if you do decide to adopt them all, there’s one fun choice you get to make about the post-game (which sadly, we don’t to see or play).
I ran into a couple of glitches with the game, but I am not sure if that’s because I added it to Steam so I could use the overlay for screenshot purposes. I played in full screen, and alt-tabbing out would cause the text and overlay art to disappear. You could keep clicking through, but there was nothing to see. I also had some trouble with attempting to change the font (although you are given the option of a few different ones), but there’s no text overlap or issues with the default choice. Thankfully, the game includes a skip button, which I made use of when I needed to replay the first 10 minutes or so, up to my first adoption scene.
Overall, I really liked the vibe of Eternia: Pet Whisperer, and would definitely like to see what this team comes up with when they’re not working on a Game Jam schedule.
SteamDB estimates that Eternia: Pet Whisperer has sold somewhere between 200 and a 700 copies on Steam. It looks to be a freshman effort from this team as far as Steam is concerned, although they have a handful of other titles on Itch.io, and a new game coming in November of 2022. Every review on Steam has recommended this title, and it is ranked 2427 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.