Taking the roguelike genre into the vast reaches and beauty that is space was a winning combination for indie developer Rockfish Games. Using the Game Preview program on Xbox One and the Windows Store, Everspace is the very first game to support Xbox Play Anywhere, allowing you to play on a PC or Xbox One, addition to utilizes saves between both platforms. The developers looked to Kickstarter for funding and successfully brought the project to live thanks to thousands of backers, nearing raising enough to double the initial goal.
Players awake onboard a massive battleship in a bit of a haze, unsure exactly of what happened in the past, but you manage to escape onboard a single seat fighter. There is more to the overarching narrative, especially as you progress through the game, but I was more focused on shooting pirates and collecting resources. Controlling an agile space fighter using a controller has never been an easy task, but the controls in Everspace are quite fluid, yet demanding. The left side shoulder buttons allow you to boost forward or backward, while the right side controls your primary and secondary weapons. Using both sticks simultaneously to steer and strafe during engagements is crucial.
Making the most of your arsenal is key to expanding your current run, knowing when to switch between your two primary weapon types. The best approach involves using a pulse weapon to bring down shields, indicated by the blue bar hovering over an enemy, and then switching to a gun that deals substantial damage to hulls, such as a Gatling gun. Proper use of your secondary weapons can also mean the difference of your survival, as well as the use of your ship's additional modules, such as a shield booster or automated turret.
Regardless of the result of your current run, Everspace features persistent character progression, using everything that you gathered from previous runs. Credits, however, are a use it or lose it currency, meaning you can’t be banked. Thankfully, there are plenty of perks to spend your hard earned credits on, all of which can be improved multiple times. Anything you can think of can be upgraded, from the amount of damage you deal, to your hulls hitpoints, to loot improvements that increase the number of credits you’ll find. Initially, you won’t have access to each of the categories or components as they require you to purchase the requisite perks first. If you earn enough money, you can also opt for a new ship, as the starting ship is the middle ground, but you can also fly a more agile smaller ship with a cloaking device, or a beast of a ship with the largest pool of hitpoints, but cannot equip a shield.
There are three different difficulty settings to select from before starting a run; easy, normal, hard. Normal is the standard option, but both easy and hard alter the way the game operates. If you wish to play on easy, you will forfeit 25% of all credits gained, but you will also receive more resources and bump into fewer elite enemy ships, black holes, and more. On the other side of the spectrum, hard increases the number of credits earned by 25%, as well as increasing the threat levels, and chances of dogfighting against elite enemy types. It’s best to play your first set of runs on easy, to earn enough resources and credits to upgrade your ship.
All of the sectors are broken up by branching paths and a set number of areas to explore. As you warp into a location, you immediately take notice of the warp point to exit, but you won’t get far unless you explore the floating debris fields, asteroids, and anything else you can imagine to find in the deepest parts of space. Of course, warping to each area consumes fuel, a precious resource that you need to replenish. There are multiple ways to gather supplies, from defeating enemies, mining it from rocks, or even finding a trader, if you have anything worth selling. The game does an adamant job at equally providing a combat portion with the sense of exploration and discovery. Not everything you come across is a threat, as you may meet a faction that is neutral to your presence, that is unless you get greedy and attack for their resources. If they are successful during a distress call, you may find additional faction ships in subsequent areas, all of which are immediately hostile to your presence. Although you may want to explore every nook and cranny, you can’t linger long in each area, as the game’s primary antagonists, the Okkar faction may booster their numbers.
Everspace is an enjoyable and exciting take on the roguelike genre. The character progression across each of the three ships provide plenty of unlockables, as well as advanced customization options. Being able to swap out weapon parts looted from ships during a run offers a welcoming and refreshing experience. Not to mention, the game is just gorgeous, with breathtaking environments, beautiful looking ships, and colorful explosions. There is even a hardcore permadeath mode for those that wish to punish themselves severely.Note: Everspace was reviewed on Xbox One. A digital copy of the game provided by the publisher.