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Review | Evergrow

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Evergrow is a charming, and rather peculiar looking game set within its own Cosmos in which blocks are either your friends or your enemies.

Not to be confused with the PC game of the same name but is also totally different. Evergrow’s developer, Imagility has created a really interesting looking title in which you stressfully grow a block with other blocks of the same colour whilst sitting in a relaxing environment with nebulas, and black holes churning through to disorientate the calm. This title takes a lovely approach with smooth animations and gentle colours.

The colours don’t seem to bring any special perks as otherwise inclined by the narrator. Seems more like a personal choice.

First thing worth noting is that you’re not actually in control of a “block”, you’re in control of a Chromaroid; a very rare life form that shares the same properties as a block. Starting dormant, your first task is to choose a colour gem to attach to the Chromaroid. There are eight of these colour gems to choose from, and while the games textual narrator suggests you choose wisely, it doesn’t seem to actually affect gameplay. What they do though, is assign a colour to the entire Chromaroid and gives it a face, showing a personality beaming from its little square face.

Chromaroid’s once activated develop their own gravitational pull once activated, so blocks of the same colour will begin coming towards the Chromaroid, and it is your job to help guide those blocks to your Chromaroid, rotating the Chromaroid itself, or dragging the floating blocks to the position you wish them to attach themselves. Once attached, they become a part of the Chromaroid, increasing the mass, which also begins to increase the gravitational pull which means more blocks come flocking towards it.

Get bigger! Your Chromaroid will look scared when nearby bad things approach.

Rather worryingly though, there are other coloured blocks that are also being pulled in, and these blocks will hurt your Chromaroid if they touch it. There are also some type of missiles that launch in and are also attracted to your orbit, once they make contact with a block, they explode, resulting in smashing blocks into pieces, which backtracks you a bit by leaving gaps where those blocks were, pushing you to fill it with more incoming blocks.

Now, Imagility saw that these moments could get tense, and so a system where special blocks come into play help even the playing field a touch. Blocks that will appear in a type of iridescent colour, pulling in towards your Chromaroid and come packed with various benefits. Some passive blocks may just be a a block that is universal, meaning that it has no set colour, and so once connected to your Chromaroid, it will change to your colour. There’s another block,”Filler Blocks” that spawns blocks along a linear path that instantly connect. Another block spawning block called, “Fixer Blocks” will spawn blocks around the Chromaroid, and will fill in any gaps that can’t be reached by standard colour blocks. There are blocks that generate a spherical shield, stopping anything that comes towards you within range, however it doesn’t deflect blocks or missiles really, they just hit it, then slowly roll towards you due to still being pulled in by your gravitational pull. Coin Magnets help gather coins a lot more easily by drawing them to you, Other iridescent blocks come with offensive abilities such as a lightning block ability that will disintegrate opposing blocks when they come into range. Nuke blocks destroy any visible opposing elements heading towards you, Bomb blocks that explode, and Canon blocks that target elements and destroy them. There are far more types of blocks, and really it’s an impressive collection. I’ll leave you to try the game and explore.

Upgrade your kit, make yourself more durable

There are forty levels of block growing fun, with each level getting progressively more difficult. Everything on your screen can be dragged around with your fingers. Your Chromaroid can be dragged, rotated and flung, and so can everything else, even enemy blocks and creatures. (Yes, you begin to get Space Invader looking aliens that attach themselves to your Chromaroid and feast on you slowly). You’ll have to use multi-touch to keep control of the situation as you’ll have quite a few blocks coming towards you, and sometimes it can become quite daunting and intense. You can grab the blocks you need and guide them towards an area you wish for them to be slotted in, but you’ll find that they seem to be spawned and attracted to the empty spaces automatically anyway most of the time. Evergrow makes you feel like you’re organising a life form amongst a mess.

The levels of Evergrow go through many various areas of the cosmos. Travel through open space, nebula’s, and even black holes of darkness. Some levels take place in a light, clear level. Others will take place in dim areas lit only by lightning storms, and others could be pitch black, with light blocks appearing rarely to light up your surrounding. Every level is minimal and there’s not over the top lens flares, no particles blowing around, no crazy graphic heavy elements. It’s all simple, and draws attention to where you need to be focusing. With you swiping away opposing blocks with your fingers or thumbs and dragging your Chromaroid around to collect coins or evade some block and aliens, you find that the levels basically send blocks, both good and bad in a pattern. You’ll start with good blocks to build up your Chromaroid, then a wave of bad blocks will appear, then sometimes another wave of bad blocks or missiles, and then it goes back to being the good blocks with some breathing time before battling against the bad blocks again. It mixes it up occasionally by throwing good blocks and bad blocks into the mix at the same time, but usually you’ll have a comfort zone.

Argh!

Graphically the game is beautiful. As I’ve already said, levels are minimal, even the logo is minimal with a very light, thin font. The odd thing is though that the game is meant to be set in a type of outer space environment, but each level features a drop shadow from the foreground elements landing on the background, as if they’re on a type of tabletop/wall. It just looks a bit odd considering the Chromaroid is supposed to be travelling through space, in all honesty though, it does bring a new type of feeling to the title, for me anyway. It makes if feel more like an imagination being projected onto something like a desk, or a wall. There’s no chance of being distracted by the UI either as everything kind of hides away in a corner. The pause/menu area subtly sits in the top left, with the score being displayed on the top right showing points for everything you achieve. Blocks zapped, blocks connected, etc. The stars in the top centre which add another star if achievements have been achieved. Then in the bottom left there’s the “inventory” which features blocks and such that you can pull out and use to your advantage, or if you pull out a missile and accidentally blow yourself up, then your clumsy disadvantage.

Beautiful, smooth cut scenes flow you between areas

The music within the game is just as you’d probably expect it to be from looking at it. Calm, gentle, and ethereal. As for the sounds, they’re rather prominent which helps act as audio cues while you’re focusing on something else, like swiping away other blocks.

There are some points that I found myself noticing that didn’t really help the game. I was playing this on an iPhone 5S, which for this was far too small. Even playing it on a screen smaller than an iPad Mini would be too small. Anything that comes in from the edge of the screen are already bracing for impact, while the blocks come in fairly slow enough to react quick enough, the missiles that fly in are almost impossible to stop and swipe away, and if you do manage to swipe away some, while you’re doing that another three have sneaked past your thumbs.and then other times you find you have to have good precision skills to ensure you’ve grabbed the missile due to its small surface area to touch. This is all not helped by how close the camera is to the Chromaroid. During the first size, the camera starts off very close, and there’s no way to manually choose your distance from the Chromaroid. Due to how close it is, it affects your reaction times. You can press and hold the Chromaroid which zooms the camera out until you release it and it zooms back in, but when holding it you’re obscuring your view of that particular area you’re covering so you end up getting damaged anyway.

Black holes, nebula’s, and more. Surviving in these lands requires skill

Evergrow is a title that is wonderfully enchanting and cute while posing various challenges that will test your patience and your reaction skills. It will pass you through levels that will deter you from your comfort zone from the past few levels, and then bring you back, then it does it again. It’s a good grab and a pretty big game with levels that make the purchase worthwhile. While I’d recommend you have a big screen or great patience, I’d avoid getting this on smaller devices even though it is supported and runs lovely and fluidly on them. It’s a fun title that you can lose yourself in for a while and pop the headphones on and just relax with the soundtrack.

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