Note: Review code provided by PQube
Here we are with another game starring a female protagonist (Yes. Ki is female). A soul like entity with the ability to look into past memories. This ability is what triggers Ki’s journey through the afterlife but is it one worth undertaking? Join me as we take a look at Evergate, developed by Stone Lantern Games and published by PQube.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC
Genres: Platformer, Puzzle
Themes: Life and Death
Length: 50 minutes to 8 hours (Short length is for speedrunners)
Difficulty: Medium to Hard
Plot Summary: Ki is a soul brought to the Afterlife with the ability to see into past memories of other souls about to be reincarnated. However, upon approaching the titular “Evergate” to begin her first assignment a memory book automatically appears. For some reason Ki is gaining access to specific memories. Who do these memories belong to and why is Ki seeing these specific ones? Ki’s journey to uncover the truth and potentially save the Afterlife from ruin begins.
The main story has Ki exploring parts of the world in different time periods to uncover the source of the memories and her possible connection to them. As a main drive it gets the job done keeping players’ interest to learn the truth and it is definitely a journey worth going on. Besides the main story there are souls near the left and right side of the Evergate library, each with their own stories to tell. As players complete the Gates/Books/Levels the souls add more to their discussion, be it reflections of their past lives with hints on who they were and the people they knew, a philosophical discussion on existence, the meaning of life according to them or potential life lessons for the player. It is a neat little incentive to read what they have to say each time a new Gate/Book/Level is unlocked.
Next up is the presentation. They are described by the developers as a dream like world and that is indeed a fitting description. The world of Evergate is as beautiful as it is eerie from the Evergate to the dream like memories. Each stage, despite their briefness, is different from the last and players may take a moment to marvel at the scenery before proceeding to solve the puzzle. It is like looking at paintings come to life as a cute white soul with a blue scarf leaps and beams her way across many challenging stages. The way the scenery is connected to the memories are also a nice touch. The same amount of praise can be carried over to the music. Many times I briefly paused to relish the sweet melodies in the background. Like the depiction of the Afterlife the music is beautiful and at times eerie. Definitely a soundtrack worth adding to music lovers’ collection.
On to the gameplay. Evergate is puzzle platformer. The goal is to get to the gate at the end of the level which is easier said than done for most of the game. Naturally the game takes it easy on players at first but the difficulty quickly ramps up with some puzzles being legitimate “head scratchers” during the first playthrough while others difficult to traverse despite having found a solution. I say “find a solution” and not “solve the puzzle” because there is more than one way to reach the goal in most stages. Besides reaching the goal each stage has three side-objectives.
- Collect all Essences
- Activate all Crystals
- Reach the goal in record time
Essences are brown like things, usually three, scattered across stages. The Crystals are like the “gimmicks” of the game, each Gate/Book/Level introducing a new one while Crystals from past Levels are integrated into stages for added challenge. The side-objectives are the meat of the challenge in Evergate. Getting to the goal is usually not that difficult but getting all the Essences and triggering the Crystals is a different story. Sometimes players can reach the goal without triggering all the Crystals but to get the Crystal emblem per stage they must ALL be triggered. Same goes for collecting all Essences to get the emblem. As for the third side-objective, I mentioned in the length that the main story can be beaten in less than an hour because the stages are short. Of course that requires players get accustomed to the stages and figure out the quickest route to the goal before the speed timer runs out which, again, easier said than done.
Now to delve deeper into the gameplay. Ki’s main mode of traversal is her Soulflame, a beam used to trigger the Crystals and use their powers to help her progress. The effects include an extra bounce, a gravity bubble and teleportation to name a few. The Soulflame must be aimed at glowing surfaces or mirror platforms in order to trigger the Crystals. Players can aim the Soulflame quickly or use a reticle for more precise aiming. While aiming time slows down but keep in mind the Soulflame will run out the longer it is used. Ki has infinite lives so do not worry about her falling to her doom or being “destroyed” as she will warp back to the starting point and the stage is reset. Players can also reset the stage themselves at any point if they reach a dead end.
Back to the Collectibles. Collecting a certain amount of emblems per Level rewards players Artifacts with special abilities to help them on their journey such as a speed boost, longer Soulflame time and my personal favorite the Crystal trigger double jump. The last one was a life saver but it of course did not make the game any easier. Collecting the Emblems also unlocks Bonus stages where all players have to do is reach the goal. Again, easier said than done as these stages take full advantage of the Crystals and obstacles introduced in their themed Levels.
There are bosses but most of them act more like obstacles than battles.
Overall Evergate is a beautiful game with an interesting little story and challenging gameplay that is relaxing and punishing at the same time. The puzzles are cool with their “more than one solution” approach and the gimmicks and obstacles are pretty cool. Recommended to players looking for a beautiful challenge.
Evergate is available on the Nintendo eShop and Steam.