When I first saw the trailer for Everhood, I was greeted with one simple sentence. “Would you sacrifice your humanity to gain immortality?” Well, I just had to see where they were going with that. If there’s one thing I love about the indie scene, it’s the emphasis on the bizarre and the novel, even as it courts nostalgia with references and throwback graphics.
Developed and published by Foreign Gnomes, Everhood released March 4, 2021, on Switch and PC via Steam. The Switch version was played for this review.
Out of a Dream
Everhood sees you in control of Red, a mute wooden puppet, who has awoken to find someone stealing their arm. From there it goes off the deep end as you enter a world of psychotic ATMs, dance battles, and surreal encounters with the powers that be.
It’s definitely aiming for that “surreal RPG” vibe. A lot of elements have a dreamlike quality, and your goals and alliances are often in question. It all makes a crazy kind of sense in the end, however. There are explanations for a fair bit of the madness and a fair amount of the later plot involves sorting out the consequences of this world.
I found myself quite fond of the writing. It wound up going with a decidedly rare take in the end, but framed it such a way that even though it may not be the correct decision for most stories, it worked quite well with this one. I really wish I could say this better, but this is one of those stories where what’s interesting is past the point of massive spoilers.
That said, while I enjoyed the writing in the sense of where the story goes and how it was laid out, I’m a bit less impressed with the technical aspect. While not a major issue with the game, the spelling and grammatical errors were enough to be quite noticeable by the time I was done.
Dancing Towards Destiny
Everhood is a bit difficult to categorize, as indie titles tend to be. Exploring the world plays out much like an RPG, walking around talking to NPCs and collecting an inventory of items to open new routes. Combat, however, veers into left field.
Once a fight begins, you’re on a field moving left and right to dodge attacks tied to the beat of a song in a rhythm action game. For the most part all you can do is dodge for the entire duration of the song, though some fights have additional objectives in them that can end the fight early, such as bouncing between buttons or deflecting attacks.
It sounds simple, but Everhood is anything but easy. The frantic tracks throw absolute waves of notes at you, certain notes can have properties like being too high to jump over, and for battles with optional objectives simply surviving until the end of the track is as good as losing. The attacks also go with the beat of the music but they originate from the enemy, not where you need to dodge them, making your reactions a bit off-beat.
Unfortunately, as with the writing the gameplay needs a bit of polish. At least on the Switch version it suffered from bad loading times and a few gameplay bugs, including an easily reproducible crash and an area to get out of bounds.
I absolutely love everything about Everhood’s presentation. The characters are all vibrant and imaginative, the spritework is amazing, and the music is definitely, without a doubt, the real star of the show. Each enemy has their own unique fight theme set to their personality and dance moves, and they’re all an absolute joy to listen to, even if a fair few are constant reminders of a fierce struggle.
Dance Until You Drop
Everhood is nothing if not memorable. There’s flaws here and there, but they pale in comparison to the fun and unique time I had. It’s not a very long game, taking around six hours or so for the true ending, but there’s plenty of different choices to make and self-imposed challenges to try.
Review copy provided by Foreign Gnomes for Switch. Screenshots provided by reviewer.