Genre: Action, Indie
Developer: ROCKFISH Games
Publisher: ROCKFISH Games
Release Date: 25 May, 2017
[expand title=”Click here for screenshots”]
Currently we have no screen shots for this game.
[expand title=”Click here for the extended review”]
Everspace “Rogue-like precision cruising in the stars (no carrots)”
First off, lets be clear here. I like Rogue-like’s, Rogue-lite’s and pretty much any game with the word ‘Rogue’ as a prefix. There’s something wonderfully satisfying to me to chip away at the progression mountain and slowly gain the skills I need to progress just one step further than last time. I think I’m generically predisposed to love a game that seems impossible. When it comes to Everspace that includes making the darn thing actually RUN as well as the Game-play loop!
Everspace was first launched on the 25th of May 2017 and lacked the promised Linux support. The developer did, in all fairness, do a reasonable job of ‘breaking the news’ to the Linux community making sure to keep people informed that there were some technical hurdles to cross. I don’t mind this at all. If there’s a reason a developer has to delay a release a little while, I’m okay with that. It makes sense to me to release a game when its ready rather than pushing a broken mess out of the door. I also don’t mind holding the broken Linux version back even if the Windows version is ready. They gotta make money right? Its not ideal but I can understand.
When ROCKFISH Games quietly launched the Linux build on steam (around the 8th of September) I was eager to play. Very eager indeed. The beta demanded no opt-in, just an install screen on my steam library list. Turns out there are some issues with the game launch script in Arch based Distro’s but fear not, you will find the solution in the ‘bugs and Fixes’ section below this review. However, its also worth front loading that this game does not support AMD cards on Linux. I have not yet heard of anyone managing to launch it on AMD in any distro of Linux but I hope this changes in the future.
Now I have done my journalistic duty and made sure the technical problems are front loaded its time for me to talk about Everspace as an actual game.
Everspace is a rogue-lite six degrees of freedom space shooter where you shoot and loot your way to the end of the universe while upgrading your ship, repairing damage and trying to get some credits. When you die, and you will. You are transported back to the ‘hanger’ where you spend your hard earned cash on perminant upgrades to your ship. Then you go again to try and get that little bit closer to victory.
Everspace loads up with a clear agenda. Everspace wants to look and feel like a serious science fiction experience. It beautifully frames your currently selected ship in a floating overlay, as you change screens you realise that that ship is always there, looking mean and serious. The first thing you will do once you are rady to see just how mean and serious it can be is hit the button to deploy this fearsome beast into the universe.
The universe you drop into is, fantastic, its a stark and intimidating vista. You are totally alone save for the disembodied voice of the ships computer, who has more personality than most game characters with bodies. The computer is not overly chatty but pipes up enough to give basic guidance, a witty remark or some useful information (shields gone, no fuel, your about to die, that sort of thing) it manages to strike the perfect balance between memorable and not annoying. It reminded of the stoic yet charming discord of KITT from Knight Rider rather than the endless stream of repetitive trash talk that CL4P-TP spewed never endearingly while I played the Borderlands series.
The controls of your ship are well thought out and responsive, the ship always travels in the direction of the targeting reticle and you use the classic WASD to move around. It feels like the classic Descent while instead of being tight corridors and break knuckle speeds, its wide turns and truck like acceleration. It feels like something that could actually exist and behaves very consistently.
As you travel across the sector of space you can find mineable asteroids (shoot them and collect the stuff that fly’s off by flying into it) stashed boxes of random upgrades and a lot of pointless rocks. Some times you will come across massive wreckage’s in space that may house more than a few trinkets worth collecting in exchange for your precision piloting skills.
Its not all pretty wreckage’s and nice star fields though, there are outlaws who want you dead to loot your hold, and they really don’t like you. Each sector serves up more dogged adversaries in the traditional Rogue-style way.
Don’t think you can take it easy after you have killed all those Outlaws either because if you manage it, you will get more waves of death jump into your vicinity and those ones are quite killy from the outset.
To jump away to the next sector you just look at the green swirly way point clearly visible on your HUD and after about ten seconds of study your ship punches it like Chewie leaving the Deathstar.
There is also a neutral mining corporation that inhabit space, they pretty much ignore you but sometimes get caught in cross fire or have some fuel that you really need to ‘mine’ from them. Then what happens they become a force of death to fly in the opposite direction from with a serious sense or urgency. They hold a grudge too and its only when you get to the end of this cluster of sectors that they drop the anger. Don’t shoot them. Its never worth it… but some times, its fun.
It would be just rinse and repeat after that point but the game has a plot too. The story telling is done with slide show flashbacks that seem to randomly happen when you jump sectors. Each one being discussed by your pilot player character and the ships computer. They only play once each too as far as I can tell, so they feel like little treats rather than a distraction from the game.
The spoiler free premise of the plot is that you the pilot are a clone, when you die your memory is transmitted back (I think?) and a new clone is deployed with your experiences. So you literally do die, in the lore of the game you are murdering your own clones over and over until the overall mission is complete. And the mission its self is revealed as your play through. Its very hi-scifi and I enjoy it a great deal. Its not badly written either. There was risk that it could cheapen the purity of the shoot and loot of the game but thankfully its complements it well.
Once you inevitably get over powered by something with bigger guns and better pilot you are once again shown the hanger screen with a seemingly pristine ship ready to go. This ship is factory fresh and does not have any ‘drops’ you modified your last one with. But you get to keep your cash, spend it here to upgrade the factory template and permanently enhance all following session. Once you hit deploy your wallet is reset to zero through so there’s no saving up for that upgrade you really want. If something costs a million space bucks, you gotta earn that in one run! Its standard procedure for rogue-lite games but may be a little jarring for people who just picked this up for casual space violence.
The games core loop is satisfying and progress is only held back by your own skills. I do worry however how many times I’ll see the same procedurally generated space field before it gets tired. Where as something like Ziggurat has multiple room templates to mix and match to seemingly keep the player visually stimulated I fear that eventually Everspace will run out of tricks because whatever it does its just a lot of empty space with a few things in it.
One of the things that was key to taking some of the shine away from the game play was the cockpit view. The cockpit view gives a real sense of immersion and makes you sense the claustrophobia of Space travel but is also a substandard way to play the game. When in this fist person view you are just making things harder for yourself. You have a narrower field of view and a less than specific idea of where your ships wings are when traversing the wreckage’s you no doubt want to explore. You can switch between them with a press of a key but, there’s no reason to play in cockpit view even though it seems like the intended way to play. Its a really nice cockpit too, very detailed and pleasing on the eye.
The lack of alternate control methods is also a hindrance, its a space shooter that does not support flight sticks (HOTAS) at all. Its like a driving sim not supporting a steering wheel. Or a platformer that doesn’t support controller. It makes the game feel pointlessly neutered.
Even though this game is clearly designed to be a single player experience I feel like I should mention that the lack of any multiplayer at all seems like an odd omission. Given the joy that would be had from taking on the whole universe with a friend flying wing or a versus mode to test your skills on strangers I feel like the developer missed an opportunity to elevate this game from enjoyable rogue-lite to a defining title in the genre.
When it came to scoring this game I took a lot longer than I expected debating with myself as to its merit over all. I settled on the higher end of the spectrum for Sound, Graphics and Gameplay Value. But you will notice those lower scores for Performance and Replay. I wanted to quantify my rational here.
Performance: the game runs GREAT looking pretty much the same on medium and epic settings. The frame rate was smooth until I took a sudden dip when exploring a wreckage on epic. Soon enough I decided that consistent FPS were more important than minor lighting luxuries, I can not ignore however that the game required me to jump through the hoops of editing a script just to get it to load, and the fact that it doesn’t even run on AMD. These things however could all be related to the Beta, and the fact that I am running his on Antergos not Ubuntu. If there are any updates I will revise my score joyfully.
Replay: Here I have to be real, this game is priced at £22.00GBP, it can only do so much with the pretty bland enemy ships that you hardly even actually get to look at. The large empty areas will sooner or later stop impressing and begin to tire. I can not help but think for £14.95BBP you can play Immortal Redneck a game with a lot of personality when it comes to character design as well as a pretty much identical progression system. Then if you want to save a few more pennies you could even go cheaper and pick up the superb Ziggurat for £10.99GBP (dissimilar progression system but far tighter game-play than other options)
I know its not fair to score a game comparatively like this but I feel like if you are looking at this as a rogue-like/lite then there are a lot in the same genre that cheapen this experience but as a sci-ci this is an island in an empty sea (wow, I mixed that metaphor! – Worth it!)
Unless you REALLY like space ships there are better games for less money. But I DO really like space ships, so for me, this was a great experience.
[expand title=”Click here for bugs and fixes”]
if the game doesn’t run when you hit play (and your on NVIDIA) this fix MAY work. Remember to backup anything you are going to change an its not our fault if it all goes wrong but we HAVE tested this fix personally and had great results
go to steam, right click on the game in the list and select properties. Now on the tab at the top of the window select LOCAL FILES. Click BROWSER LOCAL FILES
edit the Everspace.sh file.
Remove everything in there and replace it with this:
UE4_TRUE_SCRIPT_NAME=”$(echo “$0″ | xargs readlink -f)”
chmod +x “$UE4_PROJECT_ROOT/RSG/Binaries/Linux/RSG-Linux-Shipping”