Space is big. Everspace is right-sized.
I don’t like “roguelikes”. I’ve never been able to get into the start-over game loop that has seemingly taken over a large portion of indie development. Call me cynical, but I’ve always felt that style of game was low effort and overly punishing (the developer ran out of ideas so decided to make it a roguelike to compensate). I have to give it up for Rockfish Games; They created a roguelike that I find myself enjoying, immensely, and it’s perfect for efficient gaming.
Link: Everspace Platform: PC (Windows/Steam) / Xbox One Game Type: Space Combat (Single Player) Cost: PC: $29.99 Avg Session Time: 5 minutes - ?? Hour
At it’s core Everspace is the traditional roguelike experience: you play, you die, you start over from the beginning. Similar to Killing Floor 2 (a review I did a few weeks ago), Everspace is simply a better overall experience than other games in the genre.
The presentation layer is probably the best I have seen in this style of game. Traditionally, developers creating roguelike experiences use simplified/retro visuals, procedural generation, and purposefully convoluted mechanics (more on this later). When it comes to visuals and presentation, Everspace does it differently. It is a modern space combat experience with up-to-date graphics and controls. Be warned: This is not a pure simulation game the likes of Elite Dangerous or the never-to-be-released Star Citizen (shots fired) but it does provide a more modern look and feel than most games in the rogue genre. The engine is modern. The game is ripe with modern graphical features such as high definition textures and shaders and it creates a sense of immersion that I simply don’t get with other roguelike experiences.
When it comes to the control scheme, it’s intuitive and contains just the right amount of complexity to feel like you are in control without being overly complex. It should be familiar to anyone who has played a first person shooter or similar game.
One of my biggest frustrations with roguelike games is that most of them are more difficult than they need to be, partly due to the frustrating game mechanics that are (usually) never explained in any manner and partly due to the random nature of the procedural events. Everspace does in fact utilize the traditional roguelike framework: start, random map/event generation, death, and restart. The way the framework is applied in Everspace will be similar to anyone who has played FTL or Starscape, but it does so in a manner that doesn’t make dying a completely punishing experience. Similar to FTL, each map and every individual combat zone is procedurally generated and contains one (or more) of a dozen different scenarios. The scenarios range from abandoned space cruisers to heavily fortified asteroids or mining ships. The game does a good job of making each combat zone feel like a new adventure. They are randomly and procedurally generated but I never felt like I was going to spawn in and die. When I did die, I knew what happened and why.
Combat zones also provide new equipment, weapons, and crafting material. There is a decent amount of customization in Everspace (when you are lucky enough to find better weapons and material). Admittedly, some of the upgrades and options feel like filler, but it adds a layer to the game that gives the player more control over the experience.
Speaking of experience, death will come swiftly in Everspace, as it does in other similar experiences (too many bad guys, asteroids, no jump fuel, etc). Starting anew allows the player to dump all of their earned cash (basically exp points) back into their ship (which makes it stronger, which allows the player to go farther, which creates more cash, repeat). Starting over feels good in a way. The ship is better than before and due to the excellent combat mechanics and interesting story, it feels like a fresh start rather than a loss. The game offers multiple ship types and difficulties as well. It is an accessible experience that should appeal to many types of gamers, not just space combat fans. Be aware, however, that it will likely provide more enjoyment to those that enjoy 360 degree movement games and WASD, twitch shooter type experiences.
Everspace isn’t perfect but it does a lot of things really well. It does them so well that I highly recommend it even though I have never been able to get into the roguelike genre. As with most games we recommend here on GO30, it fits into a busy schedule really well. A play session can be as short as five minutes. If you don’t have a lot of spare time, but want to experience an excellent space combat game, take a look at Everspace.