Futuristic Shooting, Archaic Design
HIGH Exploring a lush alien world.
LOW The combat.
WTF There’s one good story beat in the game, but it’s never shown on screen
Consumers could probably guess the contents of Everreach by looking at a few screenshots — futuristic space exploration, gun battles, weird alien critters. It’s all here. The influence of titles like Mass Effect can be seen plainly in this project, but Everreach stumbled in those footsteps every inch along the way.
Everreach tells a serviceable third-person open-world sci-fi story following the exploits of one Nora Harwood as she works to investigate a tragedy that befell a distant colony. Inter-factional warfare amongst the colonists and a planet-wide mutiny is revealed, and play largely involves fighting squads of nameless goons amongst lush alien environments. This narrative isn’t anything new or particularly affecting, and in 75 hours I found exactly one section that was well-done in contrast to the rest.
However, the biggest disappointment in Everreach is the combat. The bulk of the adventure’s run time is spent shooting bad guys or traveling to the next shootout, but for a title that hangs its hat on skirmishes, there’s surprisingly little reason to fight! Of the half-dozen enemy types in the game, only two drop any loot, and it’s just ammo for either of the two guns in the entire campaign.
The shooting is poorly-balanced, as well. Enemies hit too hard and reduce Nora to zero health in seconds, even after upgrades. Nora’s damage is pitifully weak in turn, often requiring multiple clips to bring down a normal enemy. The player has limited options to defend or outmaneuver enemies, meaning that most shootouts boil down to trading bullets at an unfavorable DPS rate. Besides the general difficulty, severe resource scarcity caused me to run short on bullets in many fights.
Vehicle combat sections are the other major gameplay mode in Everreach. Players use the Zeus hoverbike to travel between objectives or combat scenes. Unfortunately, the Zeus suffers from many issues. It shares the same health and shields as Nora, which means it dies in seconds during fights. The on-board weapon dishes out suitable damage, but always aims at an enemy’s feet, meaning that slight wrinkles in terrain block its shots. Finally, bumping into any obstacles inflicts significant damage to the bike, and a slight steering accident can kill Nora in an instant.
Like many similar space-themed RPGs, Everreach offers a variety of upgrades after gaining experience points from defeated enemies. The tech tree is reasonably fleshed-out with damage upgrades, health upgrades, and more, but between the lack of enemy loot and the linear progression structure, players have a fixed amount of resources to spend. This means sparse upgrades available to help with the tough combat.
The issues in Everreach snowball off each other. Poor controls and defensive options make combat tough. Limited resources mean little ways to mitigate the combat. Dying often means story beats can potentially be spaced far apart. Fixing any one of these issues would elevate the others, but in its current state, Everreach feels like a dogpile of bad decisions and insane balancing. Have the devs not paid any attention to design trends in modern titles?
Disclosures: This game is developed by Elder Games and published by Headup. It is currently available on PC, PS4, and XBO. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on PC. Approximately 75 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: The game has been rated T by the ESRB and contains Violence, Blood and Mild Language. needs a little more description here of what to expect.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes in the game
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: There are subtitles, but no options to resize them. Dialogue advances automatically during gameplay without an option to pause it. No audio cues are necessary for gameplay.
Remappable Controls: Most controls are remappable in Everreach on keyboard. The game also supports the Xbox One controller, but those controls are not remappable.