When I finally got the opportunity to get my pilot-gloved hands on EVERSPACE™, I was extremely overjoyed. Of course, because of the keyboard and mouse, I had to take the extra hand padding off, but I was still over the moon to have the opportunity to review this story-driven space combat game. Yes, I am sure the puns will be flying as quickly as I was while playing. Quite fortunately for me, flight was built for keyboard and mouse (although I do realize that it supports a whole host of joysticks, of which I currently have none).
Although EVERSPACE does have bits of crafting and mining, with even more looting thrown in for good measure, at its heart it is a story-driven, exploration, and combat-focused excursion. You awaken with very little memory and a massive amount of questions about your existence. There are countless routes that you might take to finding your answers, but an investigation will be key to unlocking all of the mysteries. How you reach the finale is entirely up to you, your wits, and especially your abilities in spaceship-based dog-fighting. Personally, I enjoy the arcade-like feel to the flying. This is not supposed to be a flight sim, again, thank goodness. The controls are very responsive and incredibly easy to use. No need in consulting a tech manual, memorizing a plethora of shortcuts, or even looking up the control options (except initially) in order to get into the fray. Just buckle in, fire it up, and hang on!
Even though EVERSPACE is called a rogue-like, I would technically call it more of a rogue-lite, as at least you do get to maintain persistent ship and upgrade progression. However, when you die in a sector, you will only keep your credits, not anything else that you may have picked up during that particular run. Then, you go back to the beginning. Note that I did not say “if”, but “when” you die – because you will die – a lot. Regardless of your background with 6DoF aerial and/or space experiences, you should go in prepared to bite the space dust, and again – many, many times. However, as with all very well-built games, it does get easier with practice (the living gets simpler to maintain, the dying is straightforward and readily accessible).
You start out obviously in the first part of the first sector of space. Luckily, there is a tutorial voiced along the way for everything new that you encounter. My only problem with that was that I was frequently getting my little ship-head pounded while I was trying to listen (and read, as I had the subtitles on too). Nevertheless, what your guide was telling you rapidly made sense. Also explained during the advice, there are three main types of interstellar travel in EVERSPACE: wormholes, hyperdrives, and jumpdrives. You will quickly and easily get to know the differences of each.
Once you are in a new sector, there are usually people and/or machines that know that you have arrived. Sometimes, it takes them a little bit to get to you, while other times – they are on top of you immediately. Before you can take care of any other business in that segment, it is generally best to take care of them first. They are not the ignore-them-and-they-will-go-away type of foes. Every now and then, there may be some neutral types of fighters also occupying that section of space, but you should never count on them being there to lend a helping hand. If they happen to be around, sometimes they will help you out. Other times, not so much (especially if you ‘accidentally’ attack something that they may be guarding! Mistakes happen out in the vacuum, right?).
When the enemies are dispatched, then you can get on with surveying the rest of that particular area. There are all types of various things to find in the different sectors. Some items float around for you to pick up just by flying over/into them. Other articles need to be shot open before you can claim what is inside. One thing that is extremely fun to (try to) keep a handle on is that different parts of your ship can become damaged. It is not merely watching your shield and hull points. Besides those two are also: primary and secondary weapons; the shield generator; the engine; sensors; life support; and inertia dampeners. This is where your crafting comes into play. Hopefully, you have picked up the correct types, and the right quantity, of pieces of debris to repair the individual parts – in addition to your worries about the hull itself. You are the lone pilot out there. You do not have a crew to help you keep watch on, or help you repair, your ship.
One of the absolute best parts of EVERSPACE is that it is procedurally generated, which makes it infinitely replayable. So every run, after every time you die, with every new beginning of your journey, it is completely unpredictable. Even going from section to section works this way! In case you cannot tell, I love random gen. On top of all of that, it is also absolutely gorgeous to look at. While I do not have a beast of a machine, and, like me, it is older, EVERSPACE looks absolutely fantastic.
There is also a little taste of FTL in your voyage(s) as well: you are constantly being hunted. There are beings known as the Okkar, which play an integral part of the storyline. While you are in your current sector, you have probably gotten into a few fights with various other ships. You have most likely looked around for mineable substances. If you are lucky, there may be a ship or two that you can interact with, in an assortment of diverse ways. However, you cannot dally for as long as you would like. A warning signal will go off telling you that the Okkar are inbound! Having not made it all the way to the end yet, I do not know if they get any easier once your ship is large, outfitted, and formidable. I do know for a fact that early on, it is wisest to run! Fly away! Find the jump point coordinates and head for it as fast as your little vessel will allow. Try to dodge them to get out of Dodge. Hightail it out because they are vicious and have no qualms about slaughtering your minuscule presence in that particular parcel of space. I am genuinely looking forward to the day that I can (hopefully) confront them. Immediately, I gained the desire for some vengeance on the Okkar.
My time with EVERSPACE has been vastly enjoyable. Trying to get everything done in each morsel of space, all the time knowing that the bad guys are going to jump in at any second, keeps you busy and simultaneously at the edge of your pilot seat. Shortly in, you naturally cultivate a little timer in your head, which you pray is accurate while trying to develop a sixth sense of how much time you have left to (maybe) be able to mine that one last gas cloud. At the same time, you are traveling from sector to sector, keeping in mind the overall picture of trying to figure out exactly what is going on with your past (and present). This is a great experience that I will continue to aspire to complete – if the enemies would just let me breathe for a minute – which I sincerely doubt.