I imagine it’s difficult to stand out on the PS4 right now. Although it came out more than a month ago, God of War is still fresh in the minds of PlayStation owners, and that’s not even to mention the impending hype-train that is 2018’s E3 right around the corner.
And then in flies Everspace, a game that could only sound more esoteric if spoken by a poetry emcee. It’s a Kickstarted roguelite dungeon crawler set in space that already came out on the PC and the Xbox One. All that said, while finding the market for Everspace on the PS4 may be a bit of a head-scratcher, finding the joy in it is as easy as can be.
While you’ll find a different rating at the bottom of this page, I find there is a special rating I only give to very specific games, and that’s a 10 out of “Stop Playing the Game and Review It Already.” Saying nothing else about the game’s quality, you can sink a lot of hours into Everspace without it feeling like a big investment. It was true on PC, and it’s true on the PS4.
Reviewing Your Memories
Everspace starts you out as a space pilot who seems to have amnesia, and before you start groaning as I did, give the story some time to kick in. Soon, you’ll realize that you don’t have amnesia, but that you are a clone of an original pilot. Why did he make clones of himself? Well, that’s for you to find out.
You start Everspace in a procedurally generated sector with several different areas between which to travel. Each jump between sections requries fuel, so it behooves you to fly around and search for fuel and other resources. Like the amnesia plot, this is a clever way to explore the roguelite elements of near-permadeath, dungeon crawling and procedural generation all against the backdrop of space. Every time you die, you go back to the beginning, but you get to keep your credits and upgrades you’ve made to your ships and computer, and this makes sense because you are a clone, and another clone will just come in and take your place when you die.
The further you go into the game, the more you figure this out by “remembering,” making each playthrough where you improve your ship more important than the last. That said, I can’t help but feel like the roguelite elements were the starting point, and the rest of the game was built around it. This can make the plot feel a little forced and cliche. Large space corporation is met with rising evil corruption until Our Hero has had enough and plots to betray them all for the greater good. Like the main character, I couldn’t help but get the sense that I’ve heard this all before.
Deep Space Dive
On the other hand, few games in recent memory are as compulsively playable as Everspace. You run through a space dungeon and get your ass handed to you, but this is just a challenge. It’s like a kid on the playground teasing you for losing at foursquare: you get right back in line as quickly as possible to show that kid what’s what.
Lucky for us, Everspace is a lot more fun than foursquare. It may have a particular appeal – you have to like looting and space fighting and progressive upgrade systems – but its strengths shouldn’t be a non-starter to anyone. Flying around in space looking for lost valuables has never been so high-stakes. You might scan with your eyes the edges of a sector and see an outlaw base. Sure, there’s bound to be some high-quality goods there, but you will also meet heavy resistance.
Or, you might spend a ton of time in a sector, looting every square parsec, but the longer you wait before moving on to the next, the more dangerous enemies arrive to hunt you down – you’re a wanted man, after all. This type of game design ups the ante and increases tens
ion in situations that may not have been tense at all. And more, importantly, it keeps you playing.
The Power of Everspace on the PS4
Everspace’s transition to the PS4 has experienced some turbulence. While others have reported crashing, this reviewer (playing the game on a standard PS4 bought four years ago) luckily has not experienced such things, although Everspace will sometimes make my poor PS4’s internal fan wail like a siren. In fact, the game itself runs smoothly, and, as I’m sure you’ve seen from the screenshots or heard from fellow reviewers, it looks amazing.
I praised this last year on the PC, but the lighting and shadows you see in Everspace make the experience worth writing home about. Even to the point where some objects are completely obscured by backlighting that you won’t be able to tell what they are until your own ship lights illuminate them, Everspace has spared no expense on the visuals.
No, my issues with the PS4 version run slightly more deep than simple system restraints. It’s really all about the controls. Right from the get-go, you’ll notice that the boost button is mapped to L3, which make sense on the surface (L3 is sprint in most games), but the left stick is not how accelerate; it’s how you you strafe. This can create lots of issues, as you could be trying to boost out of a meteor only to slip and slam broadside into its insides. You get used to it, eventually, but it’s a bumpy start.
Switching between primary weapons, secondary weapons, consumables and equipment also leaves something to be desired. You go through each of them using a corresponding directional key, which makes perfect sense and isn’t all that hard to do. That said, gun to my head, I couldn’t tell you with 100% certainty which direction key goes to which. It would have been helpful if there was some sort of overlay that could indicate that for you, because I can’t tell you how many times I’ve meant to switch a missile only to switch my primary weapon.
A Space Well-Occupied
While I can’t help but feel I’d rather boot up Steam and play my PC copy, Everspace still occupies a meaningful spot on any PS4 hard drive. It’s enough of a roguelite as to give people a taste of the wild side while not offending their modern sensibilities, and fans of the genre will find great creativity in applying the dungeon-crawling formula to the backdrop of outer space.
If you’ve been following Everspace from the beginning and have just been waiting for the time when your PS4 can get it done, your patience has been rewarded. If you’ve never heard of Everspace and aren’t sure if it will play at your speed, give it a shot. Dollar to donuts: you’ll spend far too much time playing it.
Everspace review code provided by publisher. Version 1.2.9 reviewed on a standard PS4. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy here.