Eternal is one of the largest scenarios ever created for Aleph One, initially created by Forrest Cameranesi (Pfhorrest) and subsequently revised and expanded by a massive team known as the Xeventh Project, which, as of this writing (February 2023) now includes more than 40 people. Besides Tempus Irae, it may be the oldest scenario still being actively developed; it was first released in 2004 and has been refined and expanded almost continuously ever since. Features include, but are hardly limited to:
- 52 levels, some revisiting familiar locations from the Marathon trilogy and some being among the largest ever created for the engine
- An intricately layered plot featuring dense political and philosophical themes, a tragic romance, time travel, major events from Marathon’s backstory, complex original characters, and returning faces from the Marathon trilogy’s cast
- A huge, acclaimed soundtrack containing some fifty tracks, lasting more than six hours, and created by some thirteen composers and arrangers (significantly expanded in 1.3 previews 4 and 5)
- Redesigns of most of the game’s familiar cast (new in 1.3), some old foes from Pathways into Darkness, and some new faces (some new in 1.3)
- Hundreds of gorgeous terminal images (many added for 1.3 preview 4)
- Five texture sets, encompassing 650 high-resolution textures, 12 detailed original landscape textures, and several separate human and alien environments
- A secret tracking system (new in 1.3 preview 4)
- More than 360 sounds, remixed or remastered in CD quality, in stereo where possible (new in 1.3)
- Atmospheric weather like rain and snow (new in 1.3)
- A “quicksave on level transition” feature (new in 1.3)
- A final boss battle of sorts (new in 1.3)
- Detailed documentation including illustrated field guides to Eternal’s weaponry, aliens, and humans, detailed credits, a meta-history of Eternal, and technical notes on how its maps and scripts work (new in 1.3)
The current development release, 1.3 preview 5 (released on 2023-02-08), is perfectly playable despite still being incomplete; it is now our recommended way to play the game. We’ll refrain from estimating the release date of 1.3 final, as we’ve overshot too many estimates to count (thank you, feature creep). The current “stable” build, 1.2.1 (released on 2021-11-07), is missing several features listed above but is still an enjoyable game in its own right.
The screenshots seen on the right are from a development release from between 1.3 previews 4 and 5 and are a reasonable reflection of Eternal’s current appearance. Although they were taken on Normal (so as to show more monster types), we do recommend playing Eternal on the highest difficulty you can manage.
Notes for version 1.3 preview 5:
Current development release. 1.3 incorporates several new features, many detailed above. New in 1.3 preview 5:
- Fixes to several major bugs, including crashes in six different levels, the HUD messing up in non-16:9 aspect ratios, and problems in network games with the secret counter and map overlay.
- Over an hour of new/updated music since preview 4.
- New secrets in a few levels.
- Jjaro sludge is no longer coloured like M1’s toxic Pfhor goo.