Everreach: Project Eden
Welcome to planet Eden, the first habitable world besides Earth to ever be discovered. It is a lush planet that is filled with flora, fauna as well as what appears to be ruins that belonged to a previous civilization. The discovery of Eden could not have come at a better time as Earth is not exactly a paradise anymore. Corporations are running the show and everything is done with an eye on profit, including the colonization of Eden by Everreach. Unfortunately, something appears to have gone wrong with the colonization of Eden, which is why Nora Harwood and her team are being sent over there to investigate. The last thing that they expected upon arrival is to be met by hostile forces who kill one team member and leave the other two stranded far apart. It is now up to players to help Nora figure out what went wrong on Eden and what can be done to save the day.
Everreach: Project Eden opens with Lieutenant Nora Harwood of Everreach’s Security Division discovering that Eden is not as idyllic as everyone thought. She is fortunate enough to survive the attack on her and her team, but puzzled by the origin and motivation of the hostility. Nora eventually joins up with Nova outpost, which appears to be the last bastion of sanity on the planet. Abigail Ross, the person in charge of Nova outpost is quick to put Nora’s skills to good use by sending her out on missions. It is through these missions that Nora learns more about the planet and the reason why everyone appears to be intent on killing her.
Although Everreach was created by a very small indie team, it’s clear to see that the Mass Effect series served as inspiration for the game. Players take control of Nora and navigate around the planet in the third person while disposing of enemies and completing tasks. Since Eden is quite a big place, with plenty of different environments, Nora also has the chance to hop on to a hoverbike to traverse areas that are too big to explore on foot. Nora also quickly teams up with a handy little flying robot, called 79-Q, who keeps her company while providing most of the humor in the game.
While we can’t fault the ambition of the game, especially given the small team involved, it’s hard to overlook some of the rough edges. To the credit of Elder Games, they have listened to feedback from players and released two patches to date in order to address some of the biggest concerns. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of things in the game that could be improved and polished up to improve the experience for players.
Visually, Everreach is a decent looking game, especially by indie standards. Eden is a vibrant place and everything from the character designs to the environments is eye-catching. However, it is a little less impressive in motion as the game features animations that are rather stiff and unconvincing, which saps some of the realism. Enemy designs are good but somewhat limited as you’ll spend most of your time shooting drones, and armor-clad enemy soldiers. Nora herself also looks interesting although it’s impossible to overlook the similarities she has with Nova, the protagonist of the canceled StarCraft: Ghost game.
Everreach doesn’t fare too badly when it comes to audio either as the voice acting is of acceptable quality and the synth soundtrack that accompanies the action is good. On the other hand, the game could have benefited a lot from sound effects that pack a bit more punch. The gun sounds in the game are so underwhelming that there were a few times that we ran out of bullets and only noticed by the lack of muzzle flash that our weapon wasn’t firing anymore. This isn’t helped by the fact that neither Nora or her enemies tend to show any reactions when shot or make any sounds. The result is that combat feels rather lackluster and taking down enemies lacks the kind of excitement that we’ve come to expect from third-person shooters.
Nora only wields two weapons for the duration of the game, so players have a choice between her handgun and machine gun. The first is useful for shooting human enemies in the head from a distance while the latter can make short work of enemy drones and other machines. Just don’t try and switch between the two in the middle of a fight as Nora will stop dead in her tracks to do so and usually end up dead. Your enemies are not very smart, but they can deal massive amounts of damage, which is not good for a game that doesn’t feature any form of cover shooting. Instead, you need to try and crouch while keeping some type of obstacle between you and your enemies to prevent them from overwhelming you. To avoid running out of ammunition it is also advisable to shoot everyone in the head as it does more damage. Getting killed in this game sucks as it makes use of checkpoints and these are spaced apart far enough to make things tedious at times. Your health and armor automatically recharge after a short period, so it’s easy to play it safe and whittle down enemies from a distance.
Controlling Nora is not as smooth as we would have liked as she has a nasty tendency to get caught on everything you try to maneuver around. The controls feel very stiff, whether you use a keyboard and mouse or a controller, and Nora is unable to jump. The initial release of the game was borderline unplayable with a mouse due to smoothing, but thankfully Elder games addressed this issue in a patch. Too bad that the controls of the hoverbike are still terrible as maneuvering this vehicle with any kind of precision takes a lot of patience. This isn’t helped by the fact that it takes damage from the slightest contact with anything and there’s no way to rotate the camera while driving. In wide-open areas, it’s still bearable, but trying to navigate in tight spots while things are shooting at you is extremely frustrating, especially as you lose your life if the hovercraft is damaged too much.
Along with the running and shooting Everreach also tries to be a role-playing game. We liked the fact that there are something like 80 different upgrades to choose from, but only unlocked a fraction of them before the credits rolled. It took us six hours to complete the game on the hardest difficulty setting (Normal), which felt very short. Nora earns experience after killing enemies and completing objectives, which rewards her with skill points each time she levels up. These skill points can be used on Strength, Agility, or Intellect, which also influences which upgrades you can unlock. Upgrades also require resources, in the form of Liquid Nitrogen, EM Coils, and Energy Cells, so these have to be looted from the various containers littering the landscapes. Some containers require players to complete a small mini-game before they open up, but failure can mean you lose your chance to get at the contents, which is a bit harsh.
Although we had fun playing Everreach, it’s impossible to overlook the flaws in the game. The patches that have been released so far give us hope that the developers will continue to polish and improve the game, but there’s not much that can be done about the short length. The story is somewhat predictable, but still interesting, while the handful of NPCs make the game feel a bit empty. The same can be said about the environments that are quite large, but very linear and empty.
Completing Everreach can be a bit of a chore, especially the parts where you have to dodge blasts from gunships while driving the cumbersome hoverbike, but it does have some good parts too. We enjoyed learning more about Nora and her reasons for being employed by Everreach as well as the bond that she shares with her squadmate. Unfortunately, the combat isn’t very exciting, the camera angles are less than ideal in tight spots and the game needs a lot more polish to compete with other third-person shooters. If you are a fan of the genre and have lots of patience, then Everreach can be fun, but the whole thing is over way too soon.
Review based on Patch 1.02.
- OS: Windows 7 / 8 / 10
- Processor: Intel i3 Skylake or AMD FX-6000 series
- Memory: 6 GB RAM
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 or AMD Radeon HD7870
- DirectX: Version 11
- Storage: 19 GB available space
- OS: Windows 7 / 8 / 10
- Processor: Intel Core i5 Skylake
- Memory: 8 GB RAM
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 970/1660 TI or AMD Radeon RX 570/5700
- DirectX: Version 11
- Storage: 19 GB available spac