EVERSPACE Review – Xbox One

As far as I can tell, there hasn’t been a decent casual flight simulation experience during either this console generation, or the latter part of the PS3/Xbox 360 era. This has been personally disappointing, as I grew up playing the Rogue Squadron games and enjoyed more recent titles such as Blazing Angels. I skipped No Man’s Sky last summer due to its harsh reception, and haven’t braved jumping into it just yet, but the itch for a game that allows me to fly hasn’t gone away. While Everspace, a roguelike space exploration and combat game, doesn’t quite match the specific experience that I’ve been hankering for, I felt that it was close enough that I might as well give it a go.

Everspace delivers a relatively cold open, where you quickly find yourself in a tutorial that teaches you controls and game mechanics. The story unravels slowly, in a mixture of cutscenes delivered as you progress through the game’s various sectors, and in snippets of conversation between your character and your ship’s AI. Relatively early on you learn that you’re a clone, and that each reincarnation of your character is a further clone, and the ultimate goal of your mission is to find out who you were cloned from and why. With Everspace placed firmly in the genre of roguelike, each segment of the story is presented as a form of reward, and each time you restart the game having uncovered more of the story, it feels as if you’re beginning to understand the universe a little bit more.

You spend the entirety of your time with Everspace inside your ship, exploring, looting, and coming into contact, both passive and aggressive, with other ships. You move from environment to environment via warp gates, and reaching these is the goal of each area. Some require activation, or the destruction of a signal blocker preventing you from using them, but to move from one section to another, and to progress through the game, a warp gate is your best and only option. Each sector is divided into usually five or six of these areas, and there are often multiple routes through a sector, giving players some degree of choice as to how they progress.

You’ll die a lot playing Everspace, to the extent that the first achievement you’ll unlock is titled ‘Welcome to Everspace’, and is awarded the first time that you die. Thankfully, although you might lose the chance to progress the story, no session with Everspace is ever futile. By destroying enemy ships, mining and trading, you’re awarded credits, which can be used to upgrade your ships and abilities in the metagame. These upgrades range from stronger hulls and weapons to being able to scan an area for threats before entering, and even being able to buy entirely new models of ship. Everspace does a great job of feeling like you’re making progress, even if you’re dying over and over, and each time you reenter it’s world, it feels as if you’re stronger than when you last left it.

Unfortunately, at times, the narrative delivered by Everspace can feel a little weak, and due to the fact that it can sometimes be a few hours between the delivery of chapters, you can easily lose focus on the main quest undertaken by your pilot. However, Everspace does a great job of making its galaxy feel real, from history lessons delivered by your AI and through the game’s encyclopedia, to the fact that different factions will fight each other seemingly organically, and you can choose to intervene, pick off stragglers once one side has emerged victorious, or leave them to it entirely and go about your merry way. The only element that takes away from the sense of the galaxy existing on its own accord is that each environment you enter feels similar to the one before. There’s an abundance of asteroid field and debris clouds to fly through, and it leads to each experience feeling a little anonymous and it becomes difficult to tell one area from another.

I had a lot of fun with Everspace, and it went a long way towards scratching the flight simulator itch that has been festering inside me. It’s not a perfect experience, as it begins to feel a little repetitive after a while, but the sense that you’re always making progress, and the desire to play through just once more to unlock that next upgrade ensures that you can look past the flaws that it has, most of which prove to be relatively minor. It’s a unique twist on the roguelike genre, and is quite unlike anything else on the market right now. While I might not go so far as to say I highly recommend it to anyone, if you’re looking for the chance to blow up some spaceships and cause a little trouble in the far-flung reaches of space, you could do worse than give Everspace a chance.

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