Review: Everspace (PC)
I’m a huge fan of space flight and combat simulation games. I’ve spent countless hours on games like Elite: Dangerous, Freelancer, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron back on the Nintendo 64, and too many other titles to count. Some of the more recent release though, have all felt a bit samey in their approach, in that they’re all injecting absurd amounts of realism into their games to the point it’s becoming increasingly hard to find differences in their offerings to their chosen audience with everything except the title of the game. This review features a game that’s doing things a bit differently.
If you’re a Facebook user who frequently searches for news on games, specifically games in the space simulation category, then you may have seen a few sponsored ads for Everspace.
In Everspace, you play the role of a Colonial fighter pilot who is struggling to remember who he is. You know that you were once in the service of the Colonial space naval forces, and that there was a conspiracy that resulted in something bad happening to you, which you suspect is the reason for the memory loss.
As you play through the game, you encounter various verbal dialogue scenes and animated artwork cutscenes that describe and unravel the events that lead to you being in your current state.
You’re accompanied by your trusty space-flight computer, whom is incredibly helpful in teaching you about the universe you’re in as you re-learn the ropes you’ve forgotten. The computer has a quirky personality, in that he’s incredibly helpful, but also very condescending in his tone. Between the pilot and the ship computer, this makes for some amusing banter as you’re flying around shooting up bad guys.
The gameplay of Everspace isn’t what I thought it would after consuming some of the published media from the official Facebook page and advertising in my feed. I went into this review expecting something similar to Elite Dangerous, but after loading up the game and jumping into it, it felt a lot more reminiscent of Freelancer, a game I played copious amounts of during my college days.
You control the flight direction of your ship with your mouse, and the thrusting directions (such as forward, up, down, sideways) with WASD controls. The game states that it is best played with mouse and keyboard, and while it does feature controller support, the feel of the controller mode isn’t as pleasant as the recommended control scheme.
Coming out of a fresh hyperspace jump, you find yourself in the cold, dark void that is space, surrounded by asteroid debris and beautiful distant nebulae. The aforementioned ship computer starts a training program to get you accustomed to the controls and movement of your ship, before plunging you into action.
You’re tasked traveling as far as you can, with exploring the immediate zone, scavenging as much loot as possible in the form of weapon modules, tech upgrades, credits, and more scattered in various containers found on shipwrecks, space stations, and asteroids. At the early stages of the game, you won’t have enough room to customise your loadout with everything you find, forcing you to scrap some components you find for materials you can use later. In most cases, you get some really decent components for use in crafting of new components, but occasionally you’ll get junk.
The stuff you find can also be traded with the various merchant or service vessels that you’ll see pop up on occasion. You’ll be offered to trade what you have in exchange for something they have, be it money, components, weapons etc. Just remember to read what you’re doing properly otherwise you’ll end up with no cash like me after thinking you were selling and not buying. What an idiot.
Other service vessels can be used to fully repair your ship from battle damage for a nominal fee. You can do this yourself provided you’ve got enough scrap metal to do it, which only heals a certain portion of your ships health, so it’s best to service it up when you can before plunging into another dogfight.
On the topic of dog fighting, let’s talk about the combat of Everspace. Scattered in the various levels of the game are either Outlaws or the Space Lizards whom are apparently indigenous to the part of the galaxy in which Everspace is set. In early levels you’ll smash some Outlaws at level one and some laser drones designed to take out your shields. If you spend too long in an area, the Lizards show up and will completely overrun you, which forces you to stay and fight leading your inevitable death, or retreat “tactically” to the next galaxy.
Much like the combat with games like Freelancer, you kill your enemies by firing at enemy ships to take out their health. You like up your mouse cursor with the targeting reticle on their ship and blast those fools to oblivion. Most enemies will have shields to start with, so you’re encouraged to take out their shields with an energy weapon before ripping them apart with ordinance from your Gatling gun.
Enemies will drop items upon death, so if combat is your preference then you’ll be aptly rewarded. Credits, components, and scrap can all be found on the wrecks of those you destroy, so if you combine that with exploration and looting, you can walk away with a decent haul.
Our final word on the combat system is that it’s easy to pick up and just play, enabling even the most casual player of video games to enjoy it. Nothing overtly complex here, which is a refreshing thing to see.
Everspace is jaw droppingly stunning to look at. Making use of the Unreal 4 engine, you’ll see a vast array of colours and visual effects, with a solid set of textures to boot. As you’d expect from a game on the Unreal engine, there is a bit of bloom chucked in the mix too which can sometimes be a bit overpowering (especially in third person mode), but it still looks amazing. Quite often I found myself stopping and looking around just to take it in, before being forced to make a quick stage right as the space lizards would come after me.
The only detractor to the visual component of the game was that the explosion textures were really slow to update as they moved between frames when up really close, so they looked like something out of Duke Nukem 3D. It’s ugly, but it’s not entirely unforgivable.
Sound wise, the game does a fantastic job of creating an immersive sound environment. Each shot of your pulse laser, gatling gun, explosion and more came through my speakers with incredibly fidelity, and I was able to hear each sound with complete detail. The best part of the audio is the dialog. It’s voiced really well, and brings some really funny moments when the player character and the ship computer start their banter. Interaction with other NPCs is limited in frequency, but doesn’t but it’s not something I can complain about. It only further emphasises the relationship between the ship AI and the player character.
Before we wrap up the review, we wanted to make mention of a one other thing about Everspace that isn’t able to make its way into this review. The game features VR compatibility for the HTC Vive, however I wasn’t able to test this out due to the lack of a VR headset. I’m not a big fan of virtual reality, but I’d be keen to give this mode a crack given the opportunity to do so.
Everspace is a great example of a game that you’re able to pick up and just play. Its gameplay simple and enjoyable, with amusing audio dialog, and visuals to boot. It’s even more impressive when you take a look at the number of staff behind ROCKfish Games, and what they’ve achieved to bring this to life, which makes it a game I’d definitely recommend checking out.
You can purchase Everspace from Steam for $29.99 USD, which at the current conversion rate puts it at $40.00 AUD.
|Everspace is a great example of a game that you’re able to pick up and just play. Its gameplay simple and enjoyable, with amusing audio dialog, and visuals to boot.||4.6 4.6 ( on 5 rating)|