Everspace Review – A Surprising Engrossing Space Opera

 

Everspace
Rockfish Games

Rouge-like games are quite the experience. Traditionally, they are dungeon-crawlers set in high fantasy settings that utilize procedurally generated levels. This makes them very high risk endeavors, as the player has to be very careful about his choices during combat, as the rouge-like genre also usually entails perma-death. What that means is that even though if your odds before a battle don’t seem the best, the trill of accomplishment when you do succeed is even that much sweeter, because of the inherent danger involved.

A space combat and crafting game is the last place I’d ever expect to see a rouge-like experience. But no one told indie game developer Rockfish Games they couldn’t combine the two disparate genres. Eschewing turn-based gaming for real-time, and high fantast for space opera, their new game Everspace is just that: a rouge-like space shooter that almost feels like a more fluid dungeon crawl. In fact, your chosen ship can come to feel like a fantasy role-playing character after some time, because of the many elements present within the game itself.

Everspace starts you out in your first procedurally generated sector of space. Indeed, the entire game’s universe is procedurally generated each time you start a new game which offers a lot of replay value from the outset. Players aren’t expected to know much about what the game’s plot is or what their role in the galaxy entails, but this is all part of the game’s intrigue and mystique. There are some brief cutscenes during Everspace’s prologue which show your character being assaulted by some unscrupulous looking characters, but that’s about it.

From there, you’ll be guided through a brief (yet handy) tutorial that will show you the ropes as far as your starting ship’s controls and weapon’s systems. But then you’re all on your own. This lack of hand-holding may throw some gamers off, but I personally enjoy this facet as it forces me to adapt, on-the-fly, to the unknown. Who would have known that such an arcade-y seeming shooter as this could also be a real thinking man’s game?

The ways in which Everspace is similar in design to dungeon-crawlers is evident in its structures. You start off in each procedurally generated sector (level), receive tidbits about missions through your ship’s on-board AI (quests), make your way through said sectors in order to get to its exit jump point, and then travel to the next sector. Also, just as with a fantasy role-playing character, you’ll fight random enemies, find out more about the game’s main backstory, and gain additional resources, weapons, fuel, credits, and of course, ship parts.

These various baubles can be earned through destroying enemy ships, mining, or simply by randomly coming across them as they float through the cold vacuum of space. I really enjoyed this aspect of Everspace, as it never devolves into a monotonous grind because of its dynamism. Each time you warp to a new sector, you’ll encounter new mission objectives and completely new sets of enemies. Nothing is ever the same.

In Everspace don’t expect to have a long life expectancy. Get used to dying…and dying a lot. Much like a Dark Souls title, Everspace’s difficulty is pretty high by default. Enemies will pound away at you and track you down mercilessly should you turn tail and attempt to flee battles. Fortunately, each time that you die your progression isn’t lost. Also, before you launch back into space after each death you can choose from additional Perks in order to increase your chances of survival.

One Perk that I increased quite a bit was Boost, which allowed me to gain additional credits each time I came across them. The more credits you accumulate, the easier it is for you to purchase more advanced ship parts, and eventually even buy a completely new ship. Another Perk that I developed was Energy. Energy literally powers your ship’s systems, so the higher your Energy levels the more powerful your weapons will be. Not only that, but if you have sufficient levels of Energy you’re more likely to be able to escape and evade enemies, if you run into trouble and need to withdraw from a battle.

There are many different factions within Everspace’s universe. Some, such as pirates, are hostile to you from the outset. Some, however, are neutral and won’t attack you unless they themselves are assaulted. One thing’s for sure, you should always be aware of who you are nice to and who you are hostile towards. Why? Because each faction will remember your actions towards them.

This can make for some pretty organic and emergent gameplay. For instance, one time I was beset upon by a dastardly gaggle of pirates. Although I managed to destroy all of their ships in an epic, by-a-thread battle, my ship was heavily damaged as a result. As my ship sparked and sputtered through space I had to keep a beady eye out for any patrols containing ships from factions I’d slighted or attacked in my travels.

Suddenly, I came across a large freighter that contained resources that I could repair my ship with. But it belonged to a faction that I was on good terms with. So I had to make a tough decision—attack the freighter and its measly fighter escort, which would allow me to most likely repair my ship? Or, continue on my way and hope that I didn’t run into some more enemies (who would probably have their way with my damaged ship).

Everspace is an absolutely gorgeous game, graphically-speaking. In fact, it’s probably the best looking space game out there right now, and that’s saying a lot. The galactic scenery on display is so captivating that I often found myself gazing at it in awe, which in turn would result in me getting attacked by enemy patrols that I’d failed to notice. The interstellar nebulae in the backgrounds, the gleaming ship hulls and their reflections and shadows, the way the starlight glistens off of your own cockpit, everything was so meticulously detailed that my sense of immersion almost seemed palpable.

As a game, Everspace is much more than an arcade space shooter. It’s an interesting combination of disparate genres that are woven together so seamlessly that you can tell that the game’s developers were not only highly creative, but really cared about the game they poured their heart and souls into. One thing is for sure, Everspace is a gorgeously-crafted rouge-like space opera experience that will be occupying space on my hard drive for a long time to come.

SCORE: 81%

Everspace features graphics that are more than good enough to wow your friends with. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:

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