There's plenty of games out there that put you in the role of a spaceship captain. The best-known ones will often try to aim for a semi-realistic slower and methodical approach when it comes to ship controls and gameplay. Then there's Everspace, which comes along and throws that concept to the trash. It instead offers up a roguelike with fast action, instant gratification and a high level of challenge. It takes all the fun parts of the games which inspired its many components, ports it into the compact Nintendo Switch and throws in all the DLC to boot.
The Switch version of Everspace: Stellar Edition is available for purchase on the Nintendo Eshop.
The story of Everspace puts you in the space shoes of one Adam Roslin. After the initial impression of him as a confident pilot sets in, the story takes a turn when you find out that he is actually only a clone of the original Adam. Did I mention he's somewhat of an amnesiac?
While this trope has been seen plenty of times, it once again works well in the sense that it gives the game an excuse to feed you all the information about the game world as if you were an infant. Since the game falls under the roguelike banner, the clones are a nice way of believably making the permadeath of one actually matter. Thus, upon death, the accumulated knowledge (and your accomplishments) get transferred to another clone and off you go to try again.
While Adams initial goal is to reach a certain sector of space and find out more about his original self, the story does set up a few surprises here and there. It's nothing spectacular but it's appreciated that a fairly simple space roguelike has been given such a serious treatment in terms of story.
It's only unfortunate that the relatively small size of the development team made them opt for the semi-static cutscenes and portraits that won't hold your attention for long. Even though you can find out additional information about the world the game takes place in, it still remains an afterthought since you won't be seeing any of it in effect during gameplay. This is to be expected as you can't actually create an emotional connection in a game where 95% of the time is spent looking at the cold steel of your spaceship.
As with all the roguelike games, Everspace also plays with the familiar loop in mind. You set out to reach your destination in a distant space sector. On your way there, you collect resources. You get attacked. Die. And have to do it all over again. Story progress remains, as do all the collected blueprints and money. Everything else – wiped clean.
Since the sectors are procedurally generated and get increasingly difficult as you go through them – how do you proceed? With upgrades of course. And this is at the very core of what makes Everspace so fun and addicting. The amount of options here is truly staggering since the number of possible loadout combinations can really make you the master of your own ship. It also encourages experimentation since it's not always about using the beam weapon with the best overall stats, but also one that suits the way you like to play.
Once you master the initially wonky controls the gunplay becomes rock solid and each death will almost always be either because you failed or because you came underequipped. It creates that sort of old arcade machine feel where death doesn't become frustrating but more of an "I'll try again harder this time" scenario.
The story also plays into this as its completion requires you to get through all the sectors in one go so you'll either need to be insanely skilled or equip your ship to be a machine of destruction. Enemies don't pose much of a threat individually but will often overwhelm you with numbers. Even if they don't outright destroy you, they will surely deplete you of resources which will make you more vulnerable in your next enemy encounter.
While collecting resources from asteroids and shipwrecks is less than thrilling, the constant pressure of an approaching enemy encounter will at least keep you awake during those activities. The procedural generation, although effective in the sense that it will keep you on your toes, won't do much in terms of sector variety and before you know it – each one will look, feel and play the same.
The game is a grind for sure, but it's never actually boring. Even though the tutorial is extensive – starting out, you'll definitely feel a bit lost. But soon after your second or third death, you'll see that the game is actually insanely approachable and ultimately very satisfying. Once in that state of mind, it gets really easy picking Everspace up for one quick game but you'll also have no problem playing it for a couple of hours.
VISUALS AND AUDIO
Visually, Everspace: Stellar Edition is substantially downgraded for its field trip to the Nintendo Switch. Whereas the PC, PS4, and XboxOne versions have sharp, clean textures, the ones in the Switch version are visibly washed out and lacking in detail. Additionally, the lightning and other effects are downplayed to such an extent that you never get that "wow" effect that you'd get in other versions of the game. Especially the one you'd get when entering previously unseen, mysterious sector.
What's more, the dynamic resolution often kicks in to help stabilize the performance which can make the edges of distant objects seem blurry or pixelated to an extent. Sure, you can sometimes see an inkling of the graphical eye candy present in other versions, but more often than not – that's not the case. The upside to the graphical downgrade comes in the fact that the game manages a stable 30FPS throughout, no matter the situation you find yourself in.
The sound design remains on par with other versions of the game. The sound effects remain impactful, and there's plenty of music tracks on offer so as to not feel stale after your 100th passage through the few sectors of the game.
In conclusion, the Switch version of Everspace is far from the best version of the game. Depending on your skill, the main story can take you anywhere between 7-10 hours. After that, there's potential for near endless playthroughs until you obtain the absolute best gear. With that being said, the appeal of taking the game on the go with the portable Nintendo Switch is undeniable.
The visual downgrade was somewhat to be expected but I'm extremely glad that other segments of the game remained untouched. And the gameplay portion is exactly where Everspace shines. When it comes to roguelike experiences set in the coldness of space – there's nothing quite like it.
|+ Fun gameplay loop||– Lacks variety|
|+ Satisfying progression||– Uninteresting story|
|+ Challenging but fair||– Switch version received a significant visual downgrade|
|+ Good controls|