Monday, December 17

Review: Everspace - Stellar Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]


Ever since the classic days of the Wing Commander series I’ve been a big fan of space combat simulators. Flying around asteroids, taking out enemies in zero gravity, and sometimes just taking in the majesty of it all can be wonderful. Being a big fan of the genre as well as just about anything roguelike, Everspace really sounded like a game right up my alley. There’s no doubt it delivers on the challenge, with a variety of ships, upgrades, and encounters with other factions and bandits determined to blow you up. Unfortunately, though it does have a sort of narrative that’s revealed piece by piece the general repetition of the action isn’t backed up by quite enough binder to pull it all together into something more grand.


You’ll play as an amnesiac whose consciousness gets imprinted on a new clone’s body every time you start up again. As you progress into further star systems little by little you’ll begin to piece together what happened and encounter new potential allies as well, lending some greater sense of progression than simply incrementally improving your base stats and unlocking ships. It’s all pretty light though, with the focus being on the action, and if you love a good challenge the game is happy to oblige, sometimes throwing you right into a nasty dogfight as you start up, occasionally having your mission end before it even started. It can be a bit brutal, but that’s what can make it exciting.


For the most part your focus is going to be on collecting resources through exploring wrecked ships, blowing up enemies, or doing some slightly more dangerous things like taking on faction cruisers. Don’t be surprised when a little hostility on your part prompts a severe ass-whooping by units that were formerly neutral, so be careful with your weapons, stray shots hitting them even when you’re trying to take down a pirate ship can lead to disaster. That said, sometimes inviting a little chaos towards them can pay off, so being a bit crafty and drawing some pirates towards their space can sometimes yield some cheap and easy fuel and supplies when they begin blowing each other up. Credits you collect over the course of the mission will need to be spent when you die so be sure to get the most out of them, either investing to purchase something new, using discovered blueprints to help enhance your existing ships, or even just building up some of your core stats to make things a little more manageable.


As great as the game looks in some of the star systems there are a few that seem to tax the Switch a bit harder, contributing to a decline in performance. While it isn’t the end of the world, it is something to be mindful of, especially if you’re a frame rate purist. Just something about the flight controls also felt a bit funky as I tried to get used to them, and for some reason while I typically prefer to use inverted Y-axis controls in Everspace leaving them normal felt better. The random nature of roguelikes means that while sometimes you’ll seem to have things going your way and can have some success you’ll have other times where things like losing your sensors happens early on and you’ll struggle to keep yourself alive. It’s just the nature of roguelikes in general but when things like that happen early it can be aggravating.


Since space combat games are few and far between on Switch there’s no question that Everspace does a great job of scratching that itch. You can tone down the challenge a bit for a slightly reduced reward but in general there’s not that much variance in difficulty on the whole so Normal mode is probably your best bet once you get the hang of things. Though the specific scenarios and details will change the solid combat action can start to feel repetitive after a while. Just be sure to explore your upgrades and change up your ship’s configuration as you acquire new gear and it should continue to remain fresh and challenging for quite a while.


Score: 8.5

Pros:
  • Terrific space combat
  • Consistently challenging
  • Plenty of ways to upgrade your ship to suit your personal style

Cons:
  • Narratively there’s not a ton going on
  • Performance can suffer in some star systems
  • The controls take some getting used to at first