Everspace is an action-focused space shooter with rogue-like elements. Players set off on a journey of wonder, self-discovery and death. Lots of death. First released for the PlayStation, Xbox and PC back in May 2017 the game has now made the inevitable leap to the Nintendo Switch. But how does it hold out?
The first thing to note when jumping into Everspace is that it is not an easy game. Sure, there’s an easy difficulty setting, but with the reduction of credits by 25% I tend to steer clear of playing on anything lower than normal. You need to understand, Everspace has a number of different elements that will help you progress; and at first, it will frustrate you. You’ll die, a lot. There are no two ways about it and it’s offputting to start with; but trust me, stick with it, it’s worth it. Your first ship is fast but lacking on the offensive front and it’s the progression through the game’s seemingly randomised sectors which will help you progress to bigger and better spacecraft.
Warping into a sector for the first time felt a little overwhelming. The vastness of the environment is impressive, to say the least, and really provided that wow factor. After a short tutorial, you’re left to find your own way forward, with little to no hand-holding. Everspace features a persistent progression system; this ultimately means despite going down in a blaze of glory you don’t lose your perks or ship upgrades when you respawn. You do, however, lose your progression through the game. As I said, this will be frustrating at first and it took me a while to adjust my gamers mentality that losing wasn’t the end.
The storyline is slowly revealed to the player as you progress through each sector. By getting to the end of a sector and warping through the jump gate your character gets a flashback. Piece by piece these flashbacks tell the story ultimately driving you to progress as far as you can.
While I found this to be somewhat off-putting in the begging, the more I played Everspace, the more I warmed to its mechanics. Taking risks often yielded more loot which I could use to upgraded my ship or more credits to purchase perks. Loot plays a huge factor in Everspace and without it, you’ll be hard-pressed to progress much further than the first few sectors. Credits are the main form of loot, but other items such as scrap, minable ores, fuel, weaponry as well as a plethora of other collectables are also a huge help in the Staying Alive competition. Derelict spacecraft wrecks will often yield a number of goodies while hollow asteroids give up mineable materials, all of which can be used to upgrade your ship.
That’s not to say, however, that collecting materials will be easy. More often than not the more desirable artefacts will be guarded by a swarm of Space Bandits. Taking them out is rewarding its own right but you also need to learn when its time to turn tail and flee.
At the end of a run, you’ll be prompted to upgrade your perks. These are persistent between deaths and slowly but surely you’ll be able to build a setup that will help you survive longer in the harshness of space. From more fuel to a tougher hull, to an increase in the number of credits earned; the perks really help as you head back off into the unknown. Personally, I focused on building up the number of credits and items I could harvest each time, to me it seemed the most logical option allowing me to return each time with more resources to get stronger.
In each sector, there’s always something to do. Simply shooting off to the next jump point, while progressing the storyline, won’t yield much in terms of exploration or fun. Space Bandits will always be present, be it off in the distance or on top of you as soon as you warp into the sector; their presence is inevitable. Taking them head-on can be effective if you’re confident in your piloting skills – which I’m not, I should add – but at the same time, lure them into the path of a neutral fighter and they’ll often turn their turrets on the bigger ship. The more skilled fighter pilots can even shoot down enemy rockets. I found it was often important to pick my fights. While my piloting skills got better the more I played, sometimes you just have to know when to run from a battle. With that in mind, however, it’s worth remembering the saying “no guts, no glory”.
If I’ve learned one thing from video games, it’s that being defeated by the game is often a bad thing. Everspace teaches us differently, and its when you accept this philosophy you’ll enjoy it so much more. Taking risks will reward you with more and better loot while being cautious will reward you with a longer life. Striking a balance between the two is tricky and too much of one can often hinder the progression of the story. Jumping into a new sector triggers a flashback of sorts, telling the story of who your character is and why he can seemingly get destroyed time after time.
Graphically speaking, Everspace on the Switch doesn’t look as good as its counterparts on the PlayStation, Xbox and PC; however, that’s not to say it doesn’t look good. Forgiving the pixilisation of some of the textures the game looks and runs really well on the Nintendo hybrid in both docked and handheld mode; I’ve yet to experience any slowdown or drop in frame rate. The controls are smooth and responsive and the audio is crystal clear. ROCKFISH Games has even gone as far as adding in a photo mode for some of those more spectacular views and epic dog-fights.
Overall Everspace is a solid space shooter which I found myself enjoying the more I played. While I wasn’t a fan of the death and respawn mechanic to begin with I have since grown to enjoy the temptation of taking out a group Space Bandits, knowing that each second could be my last. Getting to grips with the game was the key; while initially I felt overwhelmed and outgunned I now feel like I’m ready to take on the galaxy. If you’re looking for a fun game that you can pick up and play or spend hours on in a sitting then Everspace is one that I would recommend. Of course, if you’re someone that doesn’t like the sting of inevitable defeat, you may not get on with it.