Title: Everreach: Project Eden
Version Tested: Xbox One
Developer: Elder Games
Genre: Sci-Fi Adventure
Official Site: https://www.eldgames.com/everreach
Release Date: December 4, 2019
Reaching For The Stars
The small team behind Elder Games’ space adventure of Everreach: Project Eden brings a mixture of RPG and storytelling elements on a promised scope of innovation and fresh adventure. Conceived and developed through the mind of developer Ede Tarsoly and along with his several teammates, this trip into the otherworldly pits the player against betraying foes as they step into the shoes of a security specialist on a particular habitable planet.
You play as Nora Harwood, who is sent on a task to investigate a disturbance on humanity’s colony on the planet of Eden. Equipped with a couple of weapons and a few abilities, you’ll face against opposing forces as Nora discovers the real problem at hand.
The setting takes place sometime in the future. Humanity is abandoning Earth in favor of seeking a second chance with another planet. This second chance obviously brings us to the world of Eden, where a problem is solved, but more are introduced. And being security for a new planet sounds like a job that isn’t for jokesters of any kind.
Everreach: Project Eden takes multiple cues from other popular sci-fi entries in existence, most notably the Mass Effect series. It’s a straight third-person adventure with a few RPG components to generate the game to a player’s liking. When scoring XP by shooting down enemies and looting crates, players will be able to upgrade their skills through a skill tree and ability selection to help them on their journey. These can range from simply updating her health to unlocking abilities to use on the battlefield, and the skill tree is expansive enough to have a different character loadout for each playthrough.
While this indie adventure is worth peeking into, I’m afraid it’s not necessarily worth exploring within. The whole narrative behind Nora and her involvement with what’s going down on planet Eden is interesting, to say the least. Still, the beauty of this science fiction chronicle gets bogged down by the lazy and repetitive gameplay this title is trying so hard to replicate. There comes a moment when I get the sense I’m playing a bootlegged version of Mass Effect, with reduced action and more death screens than I can recall. You simply go from point A to point B, with some sidelining on the side to further rack up XP and walk into invisible walls. During these endeavors, the player will run into unfair enemy AI encounters and pointless jogs as they race to finish the frustrating campaign; not that the game is intentionally challenging, it’s just the feeling of being trapped in a chore instead of having a good time playing a video game.
Simply put, the entire experience was unrewarding and dull. The controls don’t respond well, even if Nora is just walking atop the peaceful ground. Whenever she makes a big turn, it takes a second to register and complete fully, and that’s if you’re not running into one of the ludicrous invisible walls scattered through the world. Any hope for the shooting mechanics was tossed out the window when you use an aim-assisting system that doesn’t work properly. It’s shaky, and it doesn’t assist with anything – only the ever-growing frustration that the gameplay dreadfully produces. I highly recommend not even using the pistol, which means you’re stuck with the janky assault rifle. Until you unlock some of Nora’s abilities, you’re holstered down with these two weapons, and they aren’t the greatest to wield when you’re facing off against drones who can gun you down within a few seconds.
There seems to be a major issue with the game’s code that doesn’t transfer over selected options to tilt the game’s sound and difficulty. I could enable aim-assist and configure a few sound settings before diving into the campaign, only to discover that my settings were changed back to default. If I were to leave the game and come back to it via saved checkpoints, the settings would be at default without even me touching anything in the options. I huffed and puffed and pushed on, knowing that my shooting mechanics were to be of barely any good use against the unintelligent AI. This adds only more vexation into my experience, and this is also where I was losing sincere interest in Everreach‘s narrative.
On the other hand, the music might be the only redeeming quality that’ll be worth coming back to. The combined musical efforts of Rich Douglas and Ede Tarsoly for the game’s score was hitting a lot of marks almost flawlessly. The smooth space-like instrumentals bring a convincing sense of being in another world where wonderment and confidence are absorbed into the player through Nora’s journey. It made the actual gameplay more tolerable to get through, and I’m happy that the music never goes way out of left field. There’s a delicate balance to it, and it sort of makes up for the outdated sound effects that ring similar to those video games of a previous generation.
Outdated is a cliché word to utilize, in my opinion, but I’ll make an exception for Everreach‘s case. In the case of its level design and character animations, it feels like I’m visiting an early Xbox 360 title that was replaced with a science fiction mod. It feels out-of-place and a little obsolete, and that’s not a good thing to adhere to when developing a video game in current times. The cutscenes and dialogue don’t always sync up, making it challenging to stay connected with the story’s tale. And apparently, Nora can “fly-walk” when sprinting on uneven ground: basically, when your character suddenly runs from on top of a rock to the ground – about a foot or less – she’ll literally walk on air for a second or two until returning to normalcy. It’s a welcoming issue, though, since I was ready just to finish the campaign.
Worth The Reach?
Upon finishing Everreach: Project Eden, I wasn’t satisfied with the ending and the overall reflection I have when completing a single-player story (without giving any spoilers away). Nora is almost impossible not to relate to since you’re given dialogue options throughout the game, but I didn’t feel a sense of accomplishment from any of it. Probably because I kept getting killed by the rubbish enemy AI and I would hear the dialogue on repeat.
I do appreciate the attempt of composing a straightforward story, yet it doesn’t land well in Everreach. The hoverbike sequences become quickly deprived of fun when you’re always watching the health bar after a small smidge from environmental contact; dying and repeating the same shooting sequence over and over again is enough to make one weary of hearing the same lines of dialogue as they dive near unhelpful environment covers.
However, I can definitely say that Elder Games might have a redemption in the near future. For debut projects like this to be ambitious and without a proper polish might show promise for an outstanding sophomore adventure to look forward to. In the meantime, I can only hope for some updates to come to this game before it gets left in the dust. If the project had more time to flesh out the narrative, combat mechanics, and RPG elements, I think I would’ve enjoyed Nora’s adventure a lot more instead of almost falling asleep at the one minute and a half loading screens that always reminded of what the controls were.
Verdict: Everreach: Project Eden is a lethargic copycat of a Mass Effect fanfiction chapter that could’ve been a great inception to a new science fiction series for players to dive into. With not much to come back and reminisce to, this lonely space journey is just a pass for now until a makeover is in session to really make this particular narrative more impactful with purpose and anticipation. It just might be worth renting since some of the aspects of the writing and the music are noteworthy aside from every other unpolished limb attached to Everreach’s core.
- The music is quite atmospheric and it can keep the player sane.
- Combat mechanics are frustrating, especially when working with a limited amount of weapons.
- Lack of option variety and structure severely deprives the game of replayability.
- Sluggish execution of overall gameplay due to lack of polishing