When I’d first caught wind of Everspace via word-of-a-babbling gaming buddy of mine, I thought that he was smoking something. He described it as a space fight and space flight game mashed up with the fragility of a rogue-like experience. Since rogue-likes are normally restricted to high fantasy, RPG-dungeon raiders where your characters routinely get killed off by the dungeon’s various denizens, I was wondering how anyone could transmogrify that blueprint onto a space shooter. Not only a space shooter, but an arcade space shooter to boot.
Well, indie game developer, Rockfish Games, actually pulled it off. I, like many gamers, was totally blown away at how well-integrated the rogue-like component was, with the fast-paced nature of space shoot-em-up. Not only that, but they actually managed to infuse some (albeit light) RPG elements into their new game, titled Everspace. It also didn’t hurt that the game was absolutely gorgeous to look at and had a really solid control scheme.
Although Everspace scratched that space-dogfighting itch within many a gamer (including me), there were times when I thought to myself “this universe feels a little lonely.” In other words, even though there were some NPC characters scattered throughout each of Everspace’s broad sectors of space, they offered the same style of missions over and over again. And although each new game came with a procedurally generated map, there was only so far you could go before things began to become a little repetitive.
Rockfish seems adroitly keen to this, and have remedied it by releasing their new Encounters DLC. One of the major attractions within this shiny new package is a new ship called the Colonial Sentinel. The Colonial Sentinel is a medium class fighter that is similar to an Interceptor, but comes with more powerful shields (and you’ll need them!). It also comes equipped with an EMP device which can generate powerful EMP bursts which can disable opponent’s ships, as well as hack through different types of hatches and portals.
There are some really fun weapons that have been added to the mix as well. Some of the standouts include the Lightning Gun, the Neutron Cannon, the Plasma Thrower, and the Goo Gun. While the Neutron Cannon and the Plasma Thrower just look super-cool in action and add a different and exciting palate of colors to your space combat conflicts, The Lighting Gun and Goo Gun offer some of the most satisfying gameplay additions I’ve seen in a while.
For instance, I was being harassed by a pirate with his annoying drone and used my Lightning Gun on him. Since this new weapon chains together its lightning bolts, I merely needed to shoot directly at his ship and let the lightning ricochet on through to his fast-moving drone as well, which took it out pretty handily. There was another instance when I was being attacked by a large fighter wing and only had to shoot at one of their ships—the lightning spread onto the other ships like wildfire. The Lightning Gun is sort of the science fiction equivalent of the fantasy spell, Chain Lightning.
The Goo Gun is equally satisfying to utilize, and also a little comedic. It literally shoots blobs of green slime at enemies. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing to see your foes bathed in swaths of green space slime, it’s also great when you realize that the slime is highly combustible and damages their hulls over time. In this regard, the Goo Gun is a “fire and forget” type of weapon that can take out even the toughest of enemies. It’s also just plain fun to see in action.
There are also the addition of the DLC’s namesake, new “encounters,” in the form of various NPCs that you have a chance of coming across in your space travels. The missions that they offer vary, but most of them involve something to do with combat. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing at all, since Everspace’s combat system is so deep, dynamic, and intuitive.
For example, I encountered an alien that looked like a space goldfish, and he offered me a mission to go and blow up a freighter that was carrying some illegal munitions. Of course, he failed to mention that the freighter in question was guarded by several wings of fighters. After stalking the freighter and its contingent of fighters for a bit, I surprise attacked them on the outskirts of a rather dense asteroid field.
Although I managed to blow up my main target, after disposing of the freighter, the fighter wings caused some serious damage to my ship. Any lesser ship would have been destroyed, but my new Colonial Sentinel’s powerful shields held up long enough for me to retreat into the asteroid field. From there, I managed to elude the brunt of the fighter wings, but a few found my near-crippled ship. So, as a last ditch effort, I activated my EMP weapon and watched as the last of my pursuer’s ships got shut down and helplessly careened into the surrounding asteroids.
The Everspace: Encounters DLC offers a good amount of content for its price ($9.99), including a new ship, some fun new weapons to play with, interesting NPCs to receive missions from, and other little enhancements. While it doesn’t fundamentally change the base game, it adds a fair amount of contrast to the vacuous outer reaches of space which it so brilliantly emulates.
Everspace: Encounters features outstanding graphics that make its space action gameplay truly shine. 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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