A reviewer’s job becomes so much more difficult when they know that something was done with passion, and heart. Nevertheless, part of the learning experience for new/smaller development teams is getting feedback on earlier projects, and the only way they can grow and improve their skill is with a little tough love. Everreach: Project Eden is such a project, and tough love is what the doctor recommends for this fairly weak effort to grab onto an established franchise like Mass Effect, and attempt to do something different, yet similar with its gameplay. Elder Games can be commended for seeing through this poorly advised project to completion, but not much else.
From the word go, you are treated to some bizarrely fascinating outdated facial animations in the form of our main heroine, Nora. She’s from a private security team, who sometimes opens up about occasionally having to fatally engage with threats to her company and its employees. And this of course brings her to Eden, where a mutiny has broken out and things have taken a turn for the worse. You quickly establish a reputation with the locals and are even provided with a ‘funny’ robot companion that will have limited use and will serve almost exclusively as comedic relief. There are occasions where the robot engages with you and provides a few moments of genuinely interesting conversation, but they are few and far between.
The surrounding area is a sea of the exact same colour pallet, and the exact same structural design as you move from walled off area to walled off area. Oh yes. This RPG has invisible walls and other goodies to make sure you aren’t given the impression that its an open world game. We can call it an RPG, but in terms of upgrading your character, you are pretty much popping occasional points into 3 basic traits and collecting parts and elements to put towards a fairly colourful, but unimaginative skill tree. To put the RPG elements in perspective, you could consider something like Skyrim, with all of its possibilities and builds, as the professional of the family, and Everreach as the little child who likes to pretend alongside them, with no idea how it works or why it works.
That brings us to gameplay. Sometimes its nice to get away from snap controls, but these are the floatiest third person shooting controls I’ve ever seen. Tap the sticks just a little bit too much, and your aim is off by miles. And you won’t feel like learning this ultra-sensitive aiming either, because the game weapons offer no punch in the slightest. You can’t even land satisfying kills, whether on easy difficulty or normal difficulty. Just slews of enemies and enemy sentries that die after you hold the trigger down for a bit. Pretty devasting for a game to offer such terrible shooting mechanics and display them right away. There isn’t even a proper cover system, so you just end up crouching or putting away your gun repeatedly. And getting it back out is a slow animation, meaning you may have just got yourself killed because of the difficulty.
Yes, we must talk difficulty. The game makes you believe that you are going to have an easy time in the beginning, offering up no challenge whatsoever to anyone who has ever played a game before, but within a matter of minutes you are treated to a hover bike, which for some reason is part of protracted bits of gameplay wherein you are trying to avoid driving through thousands of red markers that indicate a barrage is about to come down, and you have only seconds to react. It would have been intense and old-school fun were it not for the terrible steering. And heaven help you if you need to turn around in a pinch because the bike doesn’t reverse. And you can go through lengthy segments of this cat and mouse on bikes, only to finally reach the end and be destroyed by what can only be described as a cheap, unavoidable shot, and if you’ve taken any damage beforehand, you’re almost certainly dead, and you get to play the whole segment again.
But we must also talk about difficulty with the on-foot gameplay. Out of nowhere, you’re suddenly treated to quests that require you to sweep two objectives to proceed. Sounds easy enough, but without any form of back-up, you’ll find that something as crude as a ‘defend my position while I hack this’ mission goes horrendous in a matter of seconds, as about ten different enemies will instantly spawn on your location. And as if that weren’t bad enough, enemies using energy weapons will nuke you in two hits. So, to sum up this scene, you have very little ammo, a lot of enemies with two or three shot kill weapons, and perhaps one bit of structural cover to try and get your shield back behind as you poke out and try to kill one enemy at a time. Where did this spike in difficulty come from? And just when you think you’re okay because you managed to complete one of the objectives, you may find your ammo is not sufficient for the next one. And if you die, you get to do both segments again! Wonderful!
Everreach: Project Eden was hard for me to play. It was clunky, insanely difficult at times, and I was barely rewarded for my perseverance through awful missions. Many times did I shut off the game in anger, and force myself to come back to it later on after I’d calmed down. This is immensely frustrating, and it saddens me because aspects of the character backstories and indeed the plot as a whole are done capably, which indicates that Elder Games have potential with the right designers, and a better budget. But this really isn’t something that I can recommend in its current state.
There is some heart in this simple third-person RPG, but with terrible gameplay, infuriating controls, insane difficulty spikes, enemy spam, and repetitive mission design, only the most determined players will find it.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.