Born from a fusion of space-shooter and roguelike games, Everspace presents exciting gameplay that combines some of the best aspects of the two genres. Features that define roguelike games such as death resetting progress and procedurally generated environments pair incredibly well with the exploration and combat within the game. On top of that, a well-balanced upgrade systems allows even the toughest defeats to feel like they are pushing your progress in the right direction.
While gameplay is the strongest part of Everspace, the story does a great job of wrapping everything together in a neat package. You play as clones of Adam Roslin, the character whose story the games is centered around. At the start of the game you are sent into space and given coordinates to a location that you need to reach to without much of an explanation as to why. In very typical gaming fashion, your character starts the game without any memory and you must recover it through progressing the game. Each sector you complete, which consists of a series of different procedurally generated locations, unlocks more info on the events prior utilizing a flash-back style of storytelling. Sectors have multiple paths that can be taken based on the risks that you’re willing to face. Making enough progress in tandem with unlocking the story provokes harder enemies, more threatening hazards, and occasional boss battles. In uncommon occurrences there are side missions, specific to the area you are in, which reward you monetarily for completing them. These things in addition to the need to harvest randomly spawned resources and managing the different systems in your ship keeps each playthrough of the game feeling far from repetitive. Eventually the story concludes in an interesting way. While it’s nothing that competes with stories such as The Last of Us, it is complex and fluid enough to give logic to the death, upgrade, respawn dynamic that makes up the game as well as the overall conflict within it.
As for the gameplay, this is where Everspace really shines. You are immediately thrown into a ship and then sent out to space, where you spend the vast majority of your time. Inhabiting each of the sectors are enemies who will try to blast you into space trash. There are also non-hostile ships that you can interact with (in certain situations), although attacking them quickly causes them to become inhospitable. Opponent ship types range from simple combat drones to full on warships. Causing enough chaos with a certain faction increases the chances of backup being called into the sector.
The space combat is the best that I have ever played. The ship is easy to maneuver and the in-ship HUD is easy to read. This makes dogfights with enemies feel like a contest of skill, with each successful match feeling well-earned. When there are multiple enemies, or even higher class ships, there is tact in taking enemies out in a certain order and engaging the remaining ships accordingly. Although it is very easy to get in over your head and be forced to make a strategic retreat. Enemy reinforcements will come into a sector after the player either causes too much trouble or spends a certain amount of time in an area. When the warships come in, you know you had better run. They pack a ton of firepower, are accompanies by fleets of their allies, and are behemoths in size. One of my most thrilling moments in Everspace came after taking out several waves of enemies and then seeing their warships jump into the area. What ensued was a frantic flight with me dodging projectiles and taking evasive maneuvers while trying to make my way to the jump gate to escape the armada. I’m lucky that faction hostility resets after you reach a new sector.
Initially equipped weapons function as either a primarily shield damaging firearm or a hull damaging one. As you continue across the galaxy there is a wide enough variety of weapons that it took a while before I felt like I had seem them all. In addition to weapons there are also consumables, tools, secondary projectile, and various types of rare loot which affects the cosmetics of your ship. All of these are convincing draws to engage in combat and exploration instead of just mining for resources then jumping to the next sector. If you find a set of weapons and tools that you like, you can upgrade them using the resources that you find throughout your journey.
If your ship is destroyed during your run, all of your weapon upgrades will be destroyed along with it. This is doubly true for your progress since the game makes you start from the very first sector after your defeat. It is a cruel but exciting dynamic. Knowing that you can be reset to the very beginning (which can be hours of progress depending on how you play) causes you to weight the option of partaking in combat, and when you do you will seldom rely on high-risk high-reward tactics. Efficiently engaging in combat is the key to survival in Everspace. Knowing that a reset could be around the corner is also a good incentive to pay attention to your ships core systems since damage to components could mean a premature end to your run. Damage to your life support system requires you to find materials to repair it before time runs out – otherwise resulting in the death of your character and the end of the run. This has caused my progress to be lost almost as much as combat. I can’t complain about it though because it causes you to do more than just shoot enemies during a mad dash to the end. If you are defeated, you have the option to upgrade any of your three unlockable ships to help your next venture reach further points in the galaxy. Credits acquired through exploration and combat are the basis for the game’s upgrade economy. You have to spend all of your credits before your next run however, any remaining are forfeit after you jump back into space. This can make the endgame drag a little bit, especially when some of the final perks require five figures worth of credits to unlock!
After a grueling journey to reach my final destination, and hours after upgrading my ship and seeing everything the universe has to offer, I have very few complaints about the game. Everspace is some of the most fun I have had with a game in the last few years, and perhaps even the most fun space-shooter I have ever played. The biggest bogs to the game are some technical issues that are sure to be fixed soon (several of the more major ones have already been addressed). This is a game that is easy to get caught up in and very rewarding to play and complete. Fans of roguelikes or space-shooters are bound to feel at home playing this game, and I recommend to anyone who has yet to dive into either of the two genres.