Review – Everhood
I am pretty sure that my colleagues at WTMG are already fed up with me complaining that, so far, 2021 hasn’t had any new game I could consider worthy of a year-end list. Covid has screwed over release schedules for games and so far, the only two really outstanding titles I had played in 2021 were a PS5 port of a game released two years ago, and a remaster of a remaster of a remake of a game originally released in 2002. This ends now, as a small indie that showed up from out of nowhere ended up being the best game I’ve played in 2021 so far. Let’s talk about the ultra-weird Everhood, and why you should play this bad boy.
Everhood is what happens when you pick up Undertale, Dance Dance Revolution, Alice in Wonderland, Geno from Super Mario RPG, Earthbound, the entire David Lynch filmography, a few pounds worth of LSD, and throw everything into a blender. It’s an absolutely bonkers experience which, despite taking inspiration on various themes and gameplay elements from various sources, is definitely unique, in a good way. I don’t remember the last time an indie like this captivated me to such an extent I couldn’t stop playing it. Not even Undertale managed to do so.
In Everhood, you play as Red, a wooden doll pretty much identical to Geno from Super Mario RPG. In the beginning of the game, Red appears to be completely disassembled, with a blue thief taking advantage of the situation to steal one of his arms. Red then embarks on a journey to get his arm back. Meanwhile, he’ll also start to find out more about the weird world he’s currently in, meeting tons of wacky characters along the way.
This might sound like the dumbest and most uneventful reason for an adventure to begin, but more events happen along the way and I really don’t want to spoil a single thing about Everhood‘s plot. The less you know about what the hell is going on in this acid trip of a game, the better. I can simply say that things get progressively more interesting, with plot twists happening when you least expect them.
Thankfully,while the story ended up being one of the best aspects about Everhood, it isn’t everything this game has to offer. You may have noticed that I called the game a mishmash between Undertale and Dance Dance Revolution. Let’s talk about Everhood’s “combat mechanics”.
Basically, just like in Undertale, this isn’t a proper turn-based RPG. Hell, there aren’t even turns to begin with, or combat. Whenever you enter a combat section, which is always scripted, you’ll have to avoid being killed by an enemy on a… dance-off. Basically, enemies will constantly shoot energy waves at you, based on the rhythm of whichever song is being played on the back, and all you need to do is avoid these waves. Short waves can be jumped on, while tall ones can only be avoided.
Depending on the difficulty level you have selected, your character will be able to auto-heal after a few seconds whenever he gets hit by a wave. But no matter which difficulty you choose, Everhood will be a very challenging game that will test your reflexes in the same vein as any other rhythm game like Guitar Hero or Rock Band. And I absolutely loved it. The controls are fluid and responsive, and the gameplay is fast-paced, challenging, and very rewarding. Plus the soundtrack is absolutely fantastic, with songs of all genres being included in here. There will be sections with jazz tunes, metal tunes, funk tunes; you name it and it’s included in here.
The overworld gameplay looks, sounds, and feels completely like Undertale. Everhood retains Undertale‘s ultra-minimalistic art style, with environments that feel like they were designed on a Windows 95 version of Microsoft Paint, but with well-designed NPCs to talk to. The game does subvert your expectations every now and then by presenting a (low-poly) 3D character or a brief polygonal area to explore, though. Nothing too impressive, but still a nice change of pace when you’re fed up of looking at the same black backgrounds with a few low-detailed sprites splattered along the way.
Finally, there are times in which Everhood cranks up its LSD levels to 11, bombarding the player with trippy imagery that actually looked very impressive onscreen. I do have to warn players, however, that these trippy sections contain flashing lights that can be triggering to epileptic people.
Despite being a two-person team, the developers at Foreign Gnomes took their time to include a few minigames in here, as they were well aware that a rhythm-based RPG gets a bit repetitive after a while. There’s even a small minigame that transforms Everhood into a retro-styled racing game in the vein of OutRun and Top Gear.
I have one gripe with Everhood, and sadly, that would be its writing. No, it’s not about the story, which is fantastic, but I don’t remember the last time I’ve played a game so riddled with typos and grammatical mistakes like this one. I get it, English is a difficult language to master, and the developers come from Sweden and Spain. However, I do feel like they should have contacted someone to take a look at their writing and pinpoint the vast amount of errors included in the script.
Is the poor writing a dealbreaker? No, it isn’t. You can easily ignore these mistakes at first, or actually pretend that everyone talks like the Doge meme, but it’s something that should have been corrected prior to release. But let’s face it: when typos are what bothered me the most in a game, that means I’m looking for a needle in a haystack. There’s not a lot to complain in here.
I’m trying to be as vague as possible with Everhood because it’s best experienced if you know as little as possible about its story and its mechanics. All I can say without spoiling things for you readers is that it’s a game worth experiencing. Despite the myriad of grammatical errors, this is an incredibly smart story that will catch players off guard with its inventive twists. It’s also one hell of a fun mix between an RPG and a rhythm game. This is one of the most unique and inventive games I’ve played in years, and I’d be a madman if I said this wasn’t worth your time.
It features the same minimalistic and “artistically lazy” art style pioneered by Undertale, but it also features occasional polygonal assets, colorful particle effects, and extremely trippy scenes that feel like the weirdest of LSD trips.
Everhood mixes RPG overworld controls, adventure-based storytelling, and borderline-DDR “combat sequences”, resulting in a completely bizarre combination of genres and styles that somehow works brilliantly.
The overworld might be silent as hell for he most part, but Everhood features a soundtrack to die for. There isn’t a single “combat section” that doesn’t feature a great tune being played in the background.
Everhood is more than just a funny mixture of genres. It also manages to tell a compelling story full of amazing plot twists. It’s a phenomenal work of love, even if it’s a bit short and completely riddled with typos and grammatical errors.
Final Verdict: 9.0
Everhood is available now on PC and Switch.
Reviewed on Switch.
A copy of Everhood was provided by the publisher.