Everspace for the Nintendo Switch
The product of a successful Kickstarter campaign lasting over two years ago titled Everspace, a game designed and developed by ROCKFISH games is finally here. Mooted as an ‘action focused single-player space shooter’ which combines ‘roguelike elements with top-notch visuals and a captivating story’, I was keen to see if the wait was worth it.
If ever there was a main menu designed to create atmosphere and build tension, this would be it. As it scans the beautiful landscape from left to right and back again, the hard-hitting soundtrack, composed by Gero Goerlich (who previously worked with Deep Silver), serves as the perfect introduction to this wonderfully well-designed and well-executed shooter. As a result, I was compelled to check out the ‘Artbook’ and ‘Soundtrack’ menu items before diving into the story itself, and boy am I glad I did. The fifty-page digital artbook is a marvel in itself and shares everything from the inspiration behind the art of Everspace to the thought-process behind the game’s conception. I take my metaphorical hat off to the Senior Concept Artist, Tobias Frank, and I firmly believe this work will rival anything he has done before.
With a love for the game’s design now firmly in my heart, I began the story mode – the only game mode available in Everspace. The game starts with a tutorial which shares all the pertinent information you need in both text format and through voiceover. I found the tutorial a little overwhelming as I tried to remember all of the different buttons required, especially when considering how many options are at your disposal. However, when it finally clicks, it is an exhilarating experience: everything from piloting the spaceship to deciding which weapon to use and all that is in between is done with devastating effect.
After the initial tutorial, the game shares a snippet of the story that is to follow. It does so in a manner befitting of the games grand ideas and beautiful artistry, showcasing it through a series of outstanding pictures which have one or two moving parts, and some excellent voice acting. I am always keen for a story to be developed and Everspace doesn’t give much away in its short cutscenes, meaning you can get back to the action but also leaving you desperate to find out more. ROCKFISH have also managed to weave the story successfully through the voiceovers in-game, with information offered to you depending on which actions you complete, which parts of the landscape you explore, and how well you complete the missions. This allows you to begin to piece together the events that have led to this moment and it was a delight to be able to do so.
The gameplay itself is much of what you would expect from a space exploration shooter, with you piloting a space vessel and shooting enemy ships and drones as you complete your mission. The game mainly operates on an ‘A to B’ journey, however, what you do along the way is entirely up to you. One might decide to go mining for crystals which can be used to upgrade your ship, explore a space station which is seemingly deserted, or skip all of the action and head straight for the jump hole. Of course, the latter option is a rarity, as the game ensures there are obstacles to overcome, and I was very much grateful for these – especially if it meant I had to do some exploration of my own. For example, during one section, I was informed that I did not have enough fuel to successfully make it through the jump hole without doing some damage to my ship. With resources in short supply, I had to navigate the landscape in search of fuel. Along the way, I found a plethora of resources available which I could collect for later use. Without this, I would not have been as successful as I progressed further.
On the subject of resourcing and upgrades, this plays a pivotal role in your successes with the game. Whilst in the game itself, you can craft new weapons, devices and consumables using resources garnered from the natural world. As well as this, each time you die, you are able to spend points on perks before going again. It is a rather complex system but has been made accessible to all and is a great addition. What I also particularly like on the resourcing front is that resources always felt sparse – finding a haul of fuel felt like a real win and this helps to build upon the atmosphere previously discussed.
The core gameplay loop that ROCKFISH provide on their website is the clearest indicator of what you can expect from this game. They state that:
“The goal of the game may sound simple enough: reach your destination. However, with every fresh attempt, you will face new challenges, as the routes to your destination and the obstacles you must overcome vary each time you play.”
It is a loop that works incredibly well and even in death, I looked forward to seeing what the next run would entail and how I could prepare for it beforehand. The course to each destination is designed using an algorithm that makes it very unlikely that you will encounter the same scenario twice, and this is an important feature that I am pleased to see has been included.
Another element to the gameplay worthy of a mention here is the wealth of options available to the gamer. The aforementioned in-depth crafting and damage system is superb, as are the three different ships which have their own distinct feel and features. On top of this, there are three in-game views to choose from depending upon your preference: first-person, third-person, and a cockpit view. The ‘dynamic, functional cockpit displays’ look outstanding and really create the feeling that you are inside the ship, manning the aircraft.
Graphically, this game is a true gem and one where I couldn’t wait to unlock the next zone and see what it had in store. It is clear the developers have placed great importance on setting the scene and it has truly paid off.
I enjoyed the combat elements in equal measure, as the dogfights were fun, frantic and manageable. It was also great to see those different warring factions would be embroiled in their own battles and I was able to kick back, relax and watch from afar.
The replayability of this game is also a massive plus: the roguelike elements enabling multiple scenarios to be played out over the lifespan of the game.
It isn’t so much of a dislike, more an observation of something which could have been adjusted, and that is the difficulty. The game offers three difficulties, including a hardcore run which truly lives up to its name. I found, however, that even the medium difficulty provided quite the challenge and one that in the early stages, I was unable to complete successfully. Playing on ‘Easy’ doesn’t sit quite right with me, yet Everspace did not make it easy for me not to.
What ROCKFISH have created with Everspace is a sight to behold. I was in awe of the landscapes throughout my time with the game, and with the roguelike elements in full flow, each run that I did make for a fantastically new experience. I feel the developers themselves sum it up best when they say:
“Each run will be exciting as you will have to face completely new situations keeping each part of the game long-lasting and generating lots of individual, meaningful moments to experience. However, no matter how skilled a pilot you are, death is inevitable, but only the beginning of a much larger journey.”
Go and enjoy this journey now!
Reviewed by Shaun Hughes on the Nintendo Switch. Game provided by