The Eternal Cylinder Preview: Trebhum in Trouble
Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: One day you awaken in a tiny valley on a hostile and colorful world. You are a small ball with legs, two eyes and an elephant trunk. A charming British man is speaking directly within your head, narrating your own thoughts back to you. Out of nowhere, a planet-sized cylinder in the style of a bread roller is crushing everything in its path as it rolls toward you. Your planet might as well be fresh pizza dough and you’re soon to be a pepperoni.
You extend your trunk and begin to suck air in until you swallow a grasshopper-like creature. Your small body changes. You now have tall legs that let you leap out of the valley you’re stuck in. The cylinder of death is now magma-hot as it encroaches upon you. You then… roll. And roll. Faster than Sonic in Sonic Pinball. Eventually you crash into a tower. That tower changes upon entry, blocking and stopping the cylinder in its tracks.
Outside the tower you find an egg. You decide to hatch it, and discover a creature just like you that you invite to be a part of your family. You name it Kwipkwip. Your adventure resumes.
This is The Eternal Cylinder, a game that I can only best describe as if Spore and the colorful procedural planets from No Man’s Sky had a lovechild and then asked: How weirder could this be? What if there was a giant creature that was a human jaw with teeth and a single eyeball? Oh and it could eat you. Yeah, rad. Let’s go.
In this wonderfully bizarre game you play as one of the Trebhum – an old race that is against the Eternal Cylinder and its minions (yes the pizza roller of death has minions, but more on them in a bit). The Trebhum have survived this long by passing along knowledge to each generation and more importantly: the ability to mutate.
Trebhum can ingest creatures to quickly change themselves. Tiny evolutions to give them a leg up in nature. My personal favorite is a mutation that turns one of your round family members’ trunks into a trumpet. When predators approach, you go loud like your own orchestra, scaring the proverbial pants off them.
The game then becomes a loop of run from the cylinder, secure a tower, evolve or level up, ingest food and water to survive, then get ready for the journey to the next tower. Each tower can only protect you for a certain distance and if you’re going to stop this planet killing pizza roller you better get moving across the land. Between that there are small shines and puzzles to solve and investigate, poison gas sounds to navigate, and survival mechanics to contend with.
Food and water are a necessity as each affects your ability to roll, jump or swim and this is critical to getting to each tower on time before you’re crushed. It’s all wonderfully tense and surreal, made more grounded by its narration and absolute plethora of mad-looking creatures you meet.
A Game to Watch For
My personal highlight was my first encounter with a servant of the cylinder. It was a torso with buff arms positioned within the first half of an early 1900s automobile that drove after me and my family, trying to run us over as I maneuvered my group of mutated Trebhums swiftly and carefully over a bridge. Yep.
This is a game that embraces its quirks with so much gusto that I hope one day they explain in detail how they got here. At the moment it’s as much a treat to play as it is to watch. It’s not often one finds it hard to describe a video game in practice.
The Eternal Cylinder has more underneath the surface to discover as I undertake each leg of the journey and I can’t wait to see what other surreal surprises wait for me. If you need a breath of something fresh and bizarre in the best ways, this is one game to watch.