Everspace - Review

Author: Stefano "Stef" Castelli
Date: 2021-02-01 18:38:44
After the release of the disappointing No Man's Sky, the discreet EVE: Valkyrie and the excellent Elite: Dangerous - and with the Star Citizen construction site in eternal activity - it seems that the wave of the revival of space video games has subsided. As the latest wave of this rediscovery of the genre, Everspace finally comes out of the Early Access / Game Preview status and is proposed in a definitive version on PC and Xbox One.

Among the games I mentioned at the beginning, Everspace is most likely the least ambitious one: its purpose is in fact to create a sort of spatial "roguelike", that is a game in which in each game we will experience a short, randomly generated adventure, in which it is not You can save and reload the game in case things go wrong and death lurks behind every tiniest asteroid - and believe me, Everspace is full of asteroids.

A formula as simple as it is well implemented that led me to spend over 150 hours with the Early Access version of the game, some of which are described in the previous preview I wrote almost a year ago. At the end of that article I concluded that Everspace was an interesting and fun game with some edges to smooth out: let's find out together if and how this game has changed when it was launched on the market.

The plot of Everspace starts from a slightly abused assumption: our character, a space pilot, suffers from amnesia following an unspecified event and finds himself fleeing into space aboard a small spaceship, chased by a fleet of ferocious aliens called Okkar. As we progress through the game we will be able to witness several flashbacks that reveal the past of the forgetful protagonist and the reasons why he is in this thorny situation. A simple and relatively effective pretext that serves to introduce the particular game mechanics of Everspace: at the beginning of each game, in fact, we will be able to equip our ship and launch ourselves on our daring escape through various space sectors, trying to reach an unidentified objective ( at least initially). In case of failure - that is, when our spaceship is mercilessly destroyed - the pilot will be cloned and will only keep the money scrapped by his unfortunate predecessor, to spend to upgrade our spaceship and hope for a less tragic journey.

Therefore, in Everspace, there is no concept of a real campaign to be carried out: every single game has a life of its own and ends with the death of the protagonist. We said "roguelike" at the beginning of the article, right? Then, permanent death of the character, combined among other things with the random generation of each journey: every time we enter a space sector we will find a situation built by the game's algorithms, sometimes enriched with specific random events. We will be able to find Okkar enemies, space pirates, neutral spaceships with which to interact to trade or receive tasks, space anomalies, asteroid fields, space wrecks and more. A fair amount of ingredients that from time to time are mixed to give life to situations that enjoy a certain variety, although the basic activity always remains the same: flying, fighting and collecting as many things as possible.

The control system in Everspace is truly brilliant in its simplicity: piloting the spaceship is very simple both via the mouse + keyboard combination, and using a joypad. The amount of buttons to use is limited and whatever control system you decide to use is all at your fingertips. It must also be said that the amount of things that the game allows us to do is very, very limited. There is no management of the ship's internal systems or a method of communicating with other ships. We limit ourselves to piloting, choosing which weapons to use and eventually activating auxiliary tools such as enhanced shields or hacking systems from time to time (assuming you were lucky enough to find them during the journey).

By eliminating enemies and exploring it is possible to collect three interesting types of resources: credits to make purchases, nano-machines to repair the spaceship and components of various kinds (processors, minerals, gases, crystals ...). This last type of resources is exploited in the game's crafting system, which allows you to build everything you need (weapons, additional systems and more) as long as you have previously found the necessary projects (also obtainable in the loot of our explorations). Alternatively, we can spend resources to upgrade the systems and weapons present on our spaceship, for example by applying modifiers to weapons to alter their characteristics, or perhaps by expanding the defensive capabilities of our shields. The level of customization is remarkable and allows you to alter the operation of the spaceship to bend it to our style of play. Another aspect to always keep under control is the spaceship's fuel level which is not needed for the activation of the engines in the levels, but rather to activate the hyperspace jump engine necessary to move to the next level. If you do not have enough fuel for a jump you can decide to proceed the same, with the risk of serious repercussions on the integrity of the ship.

Note how the game is particularly severe: I concentrated my tests on the central level of difficulty among the three available and you can be sure that to reach the destination of our journey is anything but easy. From time to time, given the random nature of the levels, it is possible to run into situations that seem decidedly beyond our abilities and, when possible, it is always better to give yourself an honorable (?) Escape rather than throwing yourself into a desperate battle. The fact is that Everspace is a game that can be very irritating: you could see a seemingly "good" game end up in ruins in a matter of seconds because you didn't realize that behind the small asteroid there were two missile turrets placed there by who knows who. Of course, the ability to control the spaceship and the correct management of the resources obtained is important, but every so often the impression is that the situations that arise are disproportionate to our real survival skills. Considering that a game does not last very long, I would say that it is not necessarily an insurmountable problem but it is still the case to point out the very high rate of ferocious curses that Everspace can send out.

The technical realization of the game is valuable, albeit not very advanced. The space is recreated in a vibrant and spectacular way, with some really successful glimpses. Too bad that the planets around which we often find ourselves fighting serve only as a background and cannot be visited - each level is "set" in a small space - but apart from this the idea of being involved in a space journey is feel. I did not appreciate the excessive rigidity of many elements that meet: large asteroids and metal structures cannot be destroyed or damaged, even when opening a hole in a space wreck would serve to circumvent an uncomfortable situation. It is a shame to target a space station with shots without being able to destroy it (especially after it has thrown about twenty missiles at us ...), a fact that highlights an evident limitation of the game engine. Fortunately, those who want to dedicate themselves to the destruction of something big will only have to wait for the appearance of the battle frigates, which are simply treated as gigantic spaceships, not modular.

The sound accompaniment is appreciable but really not very incisive, with some catchy music but sometimes not very suitable for the context and sound effects that would require that bit of extra verve, especially when they concern explosions or impacts. On the other hand, I very much appreciated the idea of characterizing the protagonist and the on-board computer well, forming an unexpectedly nice duo and constantly exchanging jokes and digs.

Everspace is a game that immediately dictates its rules and imposes obvious gameplay limits, immediately defining the "poles" within which the games will take place. It's a big arcade game mounted on a roguelike structure: accepting this assumption you find yourself in a cyclic adventure that grabs you and doesn't leave you until you have reached the edge of the universe (rest assured, there is actually something at the end of the trip). As if that weren't enough, the ability to unlock two additional spaceships and play the game at different difficulty levels ensures that our stellar endeavors will last. There is a lot to play, a lot to discover and a lot to "unlock" in the many games that follow each other and this virtuous cycle is the heart of this space outsider, a nice surprise for those who want to get their hands on the controls and launch themselves without paying attention to particularly simulation aspects. In case you decide to accept the ticket for this trip - and I highly recommend doing it - remember to pack a substantial dose of patience and swearing, you will need it.

MODUS OPERANDI
I spent many hours on Everspace in PC format, trying out the various spaceships available and the three difficulty levels present. I had the opportunity to try the game both via mouse and keyboard and with the joypad. The joystick controls are not yet enabled and will be added at a later time, as well as support for virtual reality systems. I also tried the preview version of the game on Xbox One, which was very similar to the PC counterpart, with the exception of a few slowdowns during the most hectic situations. The game features English dubbing and Italian subtitles. The translation into our language is well done, with a couple of naiveté.