What happens after we die? Some believe that our souls move on to another place until they get reincarnated and that is exactly the concept that the developers of Evergate attempt to make use of.
In Evergate, players take on the role of a soul called Ki who is being prepared to be reincarnated, but instead starts reliving memories (in the form of books) from past lives. By doing so, the soul starts to cause chaos and risk the very fabric of reality with every memory that they relieve. Yet the soul presses on as the world around it starts to fall apart and perhaps does so with hopes that it will be able to somehow fix everything by the end.
Each memory is split into pieces with each one being viewed after completing a certain amount of levels. There’s 7 of these levels per memory and they get hard with progression as is to be expected. What we have here is a classic platform puzzle game in terms of what it’s like to play it. The gimmick on offer this time is the ability to aim a beam at certain reflective surfaces that will make it possible to perform various actions. One such action and the one that players get acquainted with from the start consists of making it possible to propel the character into a direction.
Each new book/level brings with it new challenges to overcome and abilities to learn how to use. These range from being able to move platforms to making platforms and even firing off projectiles to break through barriers. It’s nice that everything is gradually introduced in individual memories so that players won’t feel overwhelmed.
The idea it to get to a gate that is found within each of the levels and there’s the option to get some collectibles as well. There’s the option to equip 1 of many artifacts that are unlocked by collecting the optional collectibles called essence in levels. These do come in very handy and make it possible for players to make use of the most appropriate one based on what will help them the most whilst playing a level or even every level in a memory.
Where Evergate falters ever so slightly is in how incredibly punishing it can feel to play through some of the levels. Given the kind of game, it can result in being stuck in a repetitive loop of dying and restarting all over again from the start of a game. Despite the fact that the levels are not that big, it can feel frustrating to have to do whole sections again to get to the point where the character died. It would have seemed obvious to have included some kind of rewind feature (even if only a couple of seconds) or even the odd checkpoint.
Perhaps the developers felt that they were being too harsh on players since they included tools that should in theory help those that are not quite as skilled or patient when it comes to playing games. These include such options as making the character invulnerable to threats like spikes (but not bottomless pits) when falling on them. This can help somewhat with tougher levels, but it still doesn’t help with situations where one mistake will result in having to restart the level.
This also ties in with how strict it can feel when playing through each of the levels. The game does feel more flexible when using some of the cheats, but playing through as intended will often result in feeling like it’s only possible to finish a level in a very specific manner. It’s very often the case where missing momentum for a jump will result in having to start a level from the beginning.
At least there are plenty of creative ideas to keep players hooked to the end. At one point there’s even a flock of deadly birds that the character must avoid whilst getting to the gate for each level. There’s no doubt that the development team really tried hard to be as creative as possible when they came up with the concept for this game.
The cut-scenes for the memories might consist of static images, but they are charming and are in line with what to expect from the rest of the game when it comes to visuals. In a way, this almost feels like the game adaption for a Disney film.
Whilst it can feel unnecessarily punishing at times, there’s no doubt that Evergate still has plenty to offer and it’s certainly an interesting game to experience and more so for those out there who enjoy solving puzzles.