Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Pipeline: Getting A New Start In Space With Everspace

Washing out the bad taste of No Man's Sky with a different devloper.

Posted By on October 13, 2016, 1:00 AM

A couple months ago, the world was treated to No Man's Sky, the sci-fi exploration game that had you whizzing around the universe in search of some ultimate answer in the center. Flash forward three months later: The game had a 90 percent drop off because the game (spoiler alert) has no ending. There were a lot of cool elements to the title, but ultimately failed in many ways to meet expectations, like the basics of having a damn ending. So in the fallout, gamers who enjoy these kind of titles are now wary of what to buy into when it comes to sci-fi exploration, including myself as I dove into ROCKFISH Games' latest release, Everspace.

click to enlarge Well if that doesn't just scream Cowboy Bebop, I don't know what does. - ROCKFISH GAMES
  • ROCKFISH Games
  • Well if that doesn't just scream Cowboy Bebop, I don't know what does.

The game drops you into the cockpit of a fighter ship roaming through space, with an unnamed male pilot and an onboard AI assisting. You'll be jumping from sector to sector, gathering ore and dealing with people who happen to be in the region. Some are friendly, others not so much; you'll encounter more of the unfriendlier people as you go. As you move along, you'll be able to upgrade equipment to the ship and get to where you need to be faster, as well as survive longer than a few moments against a horde of enemies. Most of the enemies control jumpgates, which are used to help with their giant mining facilities, because in space the only thing that seems to exist are mining companies. Your goal is to reach an unknown objective that the AI will explain to you as you go.

click to enlarge You know space has it in for you when all you see are rocks that look like daggers. - ROCKFISH GAMES
  • ROCKFISH Games
  • You know space has it in for you when all you see are rocks that look like daggers.

Now for those of you who were burned by No Man's Sky, I know what you must be thinking: You've heard this all before. Well, there are a couple catches that put this a few notches above that travesty. First, there are no planetary adventures; it's 100 percent space exploration. So no more driving to a planet and naming every dog-like creature that crawls out of a cesspool. All of the mining, upgrading and trading are handled quickly and moderately smoothly, giving you faster access to the game you really want to play. Any alien or fellow human species you deal with are intercom and text only, so interactions are brief and to the point. It's almost as if the developers saw what NMS was going to be and took out all the fluff. 

click to enlarge It's all purple and wondrous! Except for the mining facility in the way. - ROCKFISH GAMES
  • ROCKFISH Games
  • It's all purple and wondrous! Except for the mining facility in the way.

Control-wise, you have the ability to do regular controls or the more pilot-friendly Y-axis. If you're more familiar with flying planes like traditional planes, go for the later. One of the biggest things you'll notice off the bat is that this game is hard. Like, hardcore hard. Even as you're just starting out, finding money and getting upgrades to do everything you need are a pain in the ass, and maneuvering around to fight and escape is difficult, as you're constantly under some kind of pressure. And that doesn't even include the environment pressures you'll deal with: electricity in space, gravity wells and black holes, quick asteroids and other randomly occurring events will screw with your ship and cost you the game.

click to enlarge No, I am the Last Starfighter! - ROCKFISH GAMES
  • ROCKFISH Games
  • No, I am the Last Starfighter!

Beyond the gameplay, Everspace is a beautiful-looking game.  The idea of creating pageantry in the midst of chaos is done well here, giving you a variety of backgrounds that look like nothing you've seen, even with NASA's telescopes. Granted, you can't go down and explore any of them, but who cares? This is an opportunity to fight in space among the glorious colors that truly make up the universe—or at least the one you're looking at here. In the middle of avoiding space junk and getting your ship fried by a series of torpedoes, you'll be able to take a moment and enjoy the splendor around you.

click to enlarge Rocket Man! Burning down small moons for money now! - ROCKFISH GAMES
  • ROCKFISH Games
  • Rocket Man! Burning down small moons for money now!

Despite all the gameplay issues that may cause you to hate the difficulty, Everspace is a fine game. There are still some kinks that need to be worked out as the game currently sits in Alpha on Steam, but the challenge for space junkies will be too much to pass up. You're going to find yourself in no-win scenarios all the time, forced to choose between running like a coward and hoping nothing bad is on the other side, or staying to fight with the hope that you are Luke Skywalker who can pull off the kill using his ship and The Force. (But not really The Force, since that's another franchise; let's call it intuition.) Either way, if you need to get rid of the NMS burnout, this is your title.

click to enlarge 4_star.jpg

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