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Review: Everspace Stellar Edition (Switch)

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He's no good to me on a mini-screen

Prior to the Nindies showcase where Everspace was announced for Switch, I had never heard of the game, which is surprising as I love both space simulators and roguelikes. The ability to play a combo of these two genres on the go is something this aging Star Fox fan could have only dreamed of years ago.

While this combo looks good on paper, Everspace has some issues that need to be contended with.

Everspace Stellar Edition Switch review

Everspace: Stellar Edition (PC, Switch [reviewed], Xbox One, PlayStation 4)
Developer: ROCKFISH Games
Publisher: ROCKFISH Games 
Released: December 11, 2018 (Switch)
MSRP: $39.99

When I went into Everspace I had two things on my mind: I was so excited to play a space simulation game on a Nintendo system after what seemed like forever, and how great technology has become that the power to play such games is in the palm of my hands. I had hoped this would have more diplomatic routes, á la the space trading genre, but alas, this is a straight shooter.

Upon starting Everspace in a car setting as my significant other and I ran errands, I quickly realized the hazards of operating a game in 3D space while riding shotgun. Set warp drive to Nausea City, Mr. Sulu. When I was safely confined in a non-moving seat in my living room, I started it back up and played a bit in undocked mode. For as beautiful as it is -- and it runs amazingly undocked -- the limitations of the screen made dogfighting hard and I quickly found myself getting outgunned. It wasn't until I got on the TV that I could see markers on the map and was able to fight back in dogfights more consistently. There goes the portable aspect.

It's not that the game isn't able to be played in portable mode, but this is almost a straight port from the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions to the Switch. So you're going from at least a TV-sized screen to a 6.2 inch one. At a certain point the human eye can only see so much, and when blip points are already tiny and up against the backdrop of space it can be next to impossible to see them unless you're on a TV.

The controls suffer a little bit because you are confined to the tiny Joy-Con as well as four predefined control schemes, none of which ever feel truly comfortable when flying or, more importantly, dogfighting. The lack of a mouse and keyboard is everpresent, most noticeably when I accidentally activated a limited ability for the third run in a row because the button to pick up loot and the button that activates abilities is the same. I started to wonder why I was playing this on the Switch and not on the PC.

That's not to say that once I got as used to the awkward controls as I could that I didn't enjoy myself. Everspace has just the right mix of the X series and FTL where you have to balance the desire to scavenge with the need to survive. Every second you spend in a sector, a timer you can't see is ticking down and when an enemy fleet shows up, you best make your way to the exit fast or it's to the beginning with you.

Now is a good time to bring up the difficulty. To put it bluntly, be prepared to die, a lot. Playing on the developer recommended setting means you're going to die and grind ad nauseam until you gain enough credits to build your ship to a nice working point. Luck also plays into this quite a bit as every run is procedurally generated and some loot you find is useful in just the run you're in, or some can be used in any future run. I understand that some amount of grind is necessary in the roguelike genre but the 3D setting, as well as how quickly the tides can turn against you, had me getting frustrated quicker than any other roguelike I've played.

Everspace Stellar Edition Switch review

To Everspace's benefit, there is a surprising amount of depth to the story and setting. The game takes place in the 31st century and you play as a clone with fractured memories. As well as making a name for yourself with your piloting skills, you are trying to figure out why you woke up in a cloning facility and who's to blame. All around you, a fragile peace treaty is held together between the human and an insect race. There are corporations that won't bother you unless you steal from them and of course bandits who attack everything in sight. There's enough here to keep it interesting while never really doing enough unique things to keep me actively wondering what's going to happen next.

While I might have aimed a little high with my expectations for Everspace, as a fan of the space combat genre, it ultimately is enjoyable. I don't think it's for everyone but that's the beauty of niche games like this, they don't have to appeal to everyone.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]

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Everspace: Stellar Edition reviewed by Anthony Marzano

6.5

ALL RIGHT

Slightly above average or simply inoffensive. Fans of the genre should enjoy it a bit, but a fair few will be left unfulfilled.
How we score:  The Destructoid reviews guide

 
 
 

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Anthony Marzano
Anthony MarzanoContributor   gamer profile

Cblog recapper, writer for Flixist and Lover of all things strategic and can you find me on the internet? Twitch: more + disclosures


 


 


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