It’s Celica here, subbing in for Dere for the next few weeks while he focuses on moving into his new home. It’ll be an exciting but stressful time for him and his wife so we should wish them all the best.
There’s been a game I’ve been playing off and on for over a year now that I’ve wanted to talk about. It’s been a big enigma to me. For some reason I can’t tell if I actually like the game or not. This game is Everspace.
Everspace is a rougelike space dogfighting game. The point of the game is to make it to the last sector (there’s a story so I won’t spoil it), doing so by hyperjumping from star system to star system. To do so, you need to ensure you have enough fuel in your tanks to make the jump, which means most of your time is spent exploring areas looking for fuel sources. The further you get in the game, the meaner the enemies become so you’ll need to either find better gear and weapons, or upgrade/modify the ones you have. And to do that, you have to either mine resources or loot frenemies. Once you die, you start over from the very beginning with just your base equipment. What I’m saying is that Everspace is a rougelike space dogfighting game. I can’t spell it out any more clearer than that.
I’ve been playing it on Xbox One since back when it was released on the game preview program but it’s also available on PC. It’s coming to PS4 next month and “Switch port when?” you ask? Well sometime in the future. I couldn’t tell you. So this discussion is rated E for Everyone before you think about closing this tab and ditching us. I wouldn’t blame you. I’m boring myself here too. Let’s check in with the NHL playoffs.
Andrighetto spears Hartman in the nuts, then Hartman flips out pic.twitter.com/6xQniSUABw— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) April 19, 2018
Well okay then. Let’s move on.
Back to the heart of this discussion. I’ve put about 40 hours of time into this game and still can’t tell if I like it or not. Does it matter? No probably not. It just drives me crazy not being able to definitively categorize it. I’ll break it down.
I’m not being hyperbolic when I say Everspace might be the most gorgeous-looking video game this generation. It is just so stunning to take in! There’s a wide variety of interesting looking planets that you’ll have in the background, it’s just hard to put into words. How Mass Effect made fictional planets interesting to read about, Everspace does visually with them. Then there are neat effects like the way light warps around blackholes that just always looks cool.
While the game looks visually impressive, some of the effects can be shit. With blackholes for example, actually falling into one is incredibly lackluster. How is that even possible!? There’s no spaghettification, no redshifting, no time-distortions. Just a lot of alarms and controller-rumbling and everything goes dark. I’d be fucking furious if I died such a boring death! The most egregious thing about this game though has to be hyperjumping. They screwed up hyperjumping! Whereas the new Star Wars films nailed the effect, Everspace does this weird thing were it looks like you’re being sprayed by a garden house. Considering you have to do it every few minutes to progress, the jarring sequence honestly takes away from the game in a big way for me.
The last thing I will mention about the visuals is that this game suffers from tiny-ass text with no ability to adjust it. There’s not a lot to read but these 30 year old eyes of mine really struggle with it. There’s also indicators on your HUD showing where nearby loot is and I’m not sure if it’s the colours they went with or the size but it’s very difficult to notice. So much of your time is wasted playing Where’s Waldo? with coloured pixels. Everspace causes an uncomfortable amount of eye strain.
Such a mixed bag.
One of the benefits of making a game these days is that you have a lot of reference material to pull from to make a better game. Other developers have failed and succeeded at what they envisioned, doing the legwork so current devs don’t have to. Why Rockfish would make a dogfighting game in 2017 and not rip the flight controls from Warhawk/Starhawk is perplexing. Those games nailed flight controls. They did it perfect. You cannot top those controls so don’t even try to.
How Everspace controls is very much like a traditional shooter. Right stick aims, left stick strafes (like on both x/y axises). If you need to roll, you have to click in the right stick which always feels awkward. There are other control schemes but they all have the left stick doing the strafing controls. Not optimal. Warhawk got around this by having two modes: a flight mode and hover/strafing mode. To me, this allowed more refined control while either dogfighting or exploring. Everspace could have benefitted from this.
Roguelike games are always a hard sell to people. You either love ‘em or hate ‘em. In a game like Spelunky, you do better at the game by getting better at it. You feel yourself improving. I can’t say I ever feel that with Everspace. It’s not that I’m not improving as a player, the game just depends so heavily on unlocking upgrades that carry over between matches that your personal skill level takes a back seat. It’s like the game is designed to kick your ass no matter what in the beginning until you earn enough money to get a good hold to counter the mechanics. You’ll improve your speed, energy levels, damage resistance, weapon strength, the number of equipment slots among other things and then unlock new weapons and mods to craft. There is no chance for you to survive early on so you will die over and over and over again whether you deserve to or not. You’re just too weak.
Eventually you’ll spend enough money to stand a chance. This means all the early levels that were giving you problems are no longer a challenge, making them all that more tedious to have to explore. Like it’s cool that the game gives you stuff to work towards, it just becomes extremely repetitive.
But it’s a dogfighting game in space. This is a genre that should always be great….which it isn’t always. Fighting enemies, especially drones, can feel like more of a nuisance. The controls certainly don’t help. There are some interesting enemies later on but again, the controls make these fights more difficult than they should be.
There’s also a mechanic where you can take critical damage to one or more of your ship’s components. When it’s your oxygen supply and you are slowly running out of air, it’s kind of cool and adds an urgency to search for resources to repair your ship. When it’s your sensors that go down, leaving you practically blind, much less fun.
Even after typing this all out, I still don’t know what to think of Everspace. I complain about it a lot but it is oddly addictive and such a treat to look at. It seriously needs a photo mode. I might never settle on whether I truly like it or not. What about you guys? Are there any games that left you firmly on the fence? Like you can’t make up your mind if it is something you actually enjoy? Let me know in the comments.
* - If you are a fan of adorable, fluffy creatures beating up on big, bad monsters, you'll enjoy Gamemaniac3434's entry for Band of Bloggers. I always forget that fairy type Pokemon are super effective against dragons. He's lucky I didn't fail this for the Bidoof hate.
Leafs vs Bruins tonight. Game 4. Toronto is down two games to one. Please pray for my team.
FAP THE CAPS! BUDS ALL DAY!