Ever Oasis (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Rudy Lavaux 22.06.2017 14

Review for Ever Oasis on Nintendo 3DS

Ever Oasis developer, Grezzo, is mostly known for working on Zelda games on 3DS - both N64 remakes and lending a hand for Tri Force Heroes. The company, whose CEO since 2007 is none other than Koichi Ishii (creator of the Mana series of games), is not exactly known for producing original creations, with the only example being Line Attack Heroes on WiiWare, exclusive to Japan in 2010. With Ever Oasis, then, comes its first original creation that Western gamers can actually sample. With a pedigree like Ishii's, and such a firm grasp of 3DS hardware, expectations are high with this one, especially since Ishii is revisiting the action RPG genre that he pretty much helped popularise on his own back in the early 1990s when at Squaresoft.

Tethu (or Tethi, if choosing a female avatar) is a seedling, a child of the Great Tree. He lives with his brother in an oasis in the desert, in a world that is covered with nothing but sand, where oases are the last havens where life can truly thrive. His brother is an oasis chief, meaning he runs the place and is the only one to be able to communicate with the water spirit that keeps the oasis alive. Such spirits, however, have become increasingly rare because the evil power behind the desertification of this world, Chaos, relentlessly attacks and invades the oases with Chaos plants and monsters, making them disappear altogether. This is what soon happens to Tethu's oasis, his brother seemingly sacrificing himself to spirit him away to save him from the powerful Chaos monster that took over their oasis. He soon finds a lonely water spirit, Esna, who sensed the other remaining water spirit disappearing with Tethu's oasis. Being a seedling that received training from his brother to become an oasis chief himself one day, Esna and Tethu team up to create their own, last oasis, hoping to grow it so big that the forces of Chaos could never destroy it like the others and, hopefully, being so large that it could destroy Chaos itself once and for all.


 
Managing the oasis is at the centre of the experience. It is comprised of the water spring itself where Esna dwells, the hero's hut right beside it, a small garden where fruit and other seeds can eventually be grown, a small market-like sand path where Bloom Booths can be grown, which act like shops tended to by oasis residents, and an entrance plaza where other miscellaneous booths are progressively added to streamline certain functionalities of the game itself. The primary goal, in the initial stages, is to gather new residents. Some of them will just wander into the oasis on their own, being only visitors at this point, until Tethu speaks to them or does something for them that will prompt them to stay there. As more characters come to settle, the latter can be levelled up and expanded as a result, allowing for more booths to be opened. There are several races that come wandering in, the main one being Noots who are entirely neutral creatures that do nothing but spend money in booths. These are non-specific, silent, non-playable characters devoid of any personality. Booths are, in turn, run exclusively by other seedlings, each being unique and selling a different type of item.

Screenshot for Ever Oasis on Nintendo 3DS

Other seedlings are playable characters that join Tethu in the action RPG exploring sequences. Last, but by no means least, there are three races of desert dwellers that can also be turned into permanent residents of the oasis - Drauks, Serkahs, and Lagoras - who are all mostly characters used in the action RPG sequences and do not run booths at all.

The purpose of Bloom booths, which the hero has to keep supplied with the types of resources they need to craft their wares, is simply to attract Noots, earning the game's currency: Dewadems. Dewadems can be used to fertilise plants, invested into building new booths for new residents as they join the party, or used to synthesise new items at the hero's house, be it consumables or pieces of equipment. However, another purpose of booths is to attract new residents that have a particular taste or interest for the types of wares that booths sell. How would the player know what people who are not there yet are going to be attracted by, though? By talking to those who are already there, as they hear rumours about other people out there in the vast world and feed Tethu information on where to find them or what they heard these unknowns like. If all of this sounds overly convoluted, it is all slowly and masterfully introduced at a slow pace over the first couple of hours. Indeed, at first, Tethu won't be free to go out and explore as he likes but, rather, will be assigned initial tasks to fulfil, which will progressively introduce the player to the game's mechanics of expanding the oasis and, after having accomplished those, the game opens up more, leaving the player free to explore more possibilities in the order that they choose.

That's when Tethu will be allowed to go outside, into the desert, exploring caves and dungeons, looking for more people, as well as resources to bring back to the oasis and give them to booth owners so that they will be able to keep selling things. As each booth owner is given more materials, this fills a sort of experience gauge that, when full, will trigger a side-quest to level up that booth so that it can sell more things, in turn increasing its earnings. The exploration parts play like expected from an action RPG, with weak and strong attacks being performed by the active character and combos (a series of timed weak or strong attacks performed in timing) unlocking as characters level up. However, these exploration segments also play a lot like a Zelda outing, with a lot of mild puzzle solving, usually involving each of the playable character's unique skills.

Screenshot for Ever Oasis on Nintendo 3DS

Some of them have the ability to jump with their pole and activate switches, while others can use certain flowers to jump and glide to higher ledges, Deku Scrub-style, while others still can roll into a ball and get inside narrow spaces to reach otherwise inaccessible rooms. The list just goes on. Some characters have unique skills but others share theirs with other playable characters, meaning that there's a bit of redundancy. However with a little over 60 playable characters to be found within the world of Ever Oasis, the possibilities are quite plentiful indeed, which is awesome.

Soon enough, however, the ultimate goal of the game, which is to grow the oasis to such a powerful level that it will be able to repel Chaos definitively, will become clearer. To achieve this, Tethu will have to explore farther into the vast world, finding three powerful artefacts called Lumite Crystals that need to be retrieved from dungeon-like places and brought back to the oasis to increase Esna's powers. These dungeons play almost exactly like classic Zelda dungeons, with a map, keys to open certain doors, chests appearing on the map, puzzles and, at the end of the dungeon, a boss battle and a warp point afterwards to go back to the entrance. Grezzo's involvement with Nintendo's flagship adventure series in the past has clearly had a powerful influence on the development of Ever Oasis. With that being said, though, because skills are in this case character based rather than item based, it still feels fresh enough that it doesn't feel like a complete rip-off, either. It still plays different and, if anything, there's a hint of a Metroid influence in there, too, in that unless Tethu meets certain seedlings or desert dwellers with specific skills, certain areas will seem unreachable at first until, only later, these can be reached using the right playable character's skill.

Otherwise, the game overall fells very accessible with combat mechanics kept simple enough that they are easy to master. Tethu and his companions start off with very little HP until the Rainbow meter gets activated early on in the game's events. The Rainbow meter is an indication of the oasis residents' happiness, which is then affected by whether or not the active booths are offering residents the type of items that they like and, in the case of seedlings, how high Tethu can manage to keep their stock.

Screenshot for Ever Oasis on Nintendo 3DS

The Rainbow meter offers a great HP bonus whenever the active party sets out in the desert, but also prevents chaos plants from growing inside the oasis, so keeping everyone happy is important to avoid rendering the action RPG sequences a pain where one or two hits from a simple enemy would be enough to kill any character.

As the game progresses and basic mechanics are assimilated, some more seedlings will join that carry out business in the entrance plaza instead of Bloom Booths, which will streamline certain basic tasks rendering them a lot less tedious as the oasis keeps growing, like the ability to send a certain seedling to restock a booth with resources you assign it, or assigning a seedling without a booth to gardening duties, or even sending out a party of desert dwellers (not seedlings) out into certain dungeons that house certain types of specific resources so they bring those back for Tethu, freeing him of farming duties that would otherwise be required by the basically compulsory restocking business.


 
Ever Oasis is packed full of these kind of useful functions that build up as the player progresses through the story and this is done in a rather non-intrusive way that has to be commended. It's a very pleasant adventure that despite the many things to do, never feels like a chore because of how well it has been designed, and it's truly so pretty to look at, too! Grezzo has had several 3DS games to sink its teeth into over the years, so its grasp of the hardware really shows. It's not the most technically impressive 3DS title ever, but it runs well without a hitch even on the basic 3DS models with stereoscopic 3D turned on, and it does enough in terms of sheer artistic design to be deemed attractive without being overly technically complicated. The seedlings' design looking almost exactly like Nendoroid figures is really cute and the fact that each of the several dozens of playable characters has its unique visual aspect is also quite impressive in and of itself for a game of this calibre. Humour is also reasonably present in the writing, and it all adds up to create an adventure that may sound convoluted at times and unlike anything else out there just from reading about it, but one that is assuredly not hard at all to understand as things go, making this a perfect entry level RPG for younger players to sink their teeth into. It may be missing certain things that keep it somewhat humble and not overly ambitious for the hardware, like the lack of proper voice acting, but the quality of what is already found inside certainly make this a masterpiece.

Screenshot for Ever Oasis on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Ever Oasis is a masterfully crafted piece of gaming software that manages to introduce a lot of original town management elements into an action RPG without feeling overwhelming or too hard to understand even for younger audiences, all while offering a solid experience gameplay-wise, as well as visually and audibly. Its touching story and loveable characters, coupled with the smooth combat and puzzle mechanics, only further enhance what is already an excellent experience on Nintendo 3DS. It may not be the most technically advanced game on the system, and it may not have a story to make a player embark on a metaphysic voyage to explore the mind of humanity with a tortured protagonist, but instead it chooses to keep things light, friendly, humble, and more fairy-tale like. These, however, should not be deemed absolutely necessary to be able to have a perfectly grand time on the humble Nintendo 3DS, since a cute title should not be considered any less great than the darker and more adult ones out there.

Developer

Grezzo

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Zelda mixed with a bit of...Harvest Moon or Animal Crossing? Did you also feel the 'Mana' vibe at all? I'm very intrigued by this one. Looks fantastic, and I really like the music in the launch trailer.

( Edited 13.07.2017 17:40 by Guest )

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
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Adam Riley said:
Zelda mixed with a bit of...Harvest Moon or Animal Crossing? Did you also feel the 'Mana' vibe at all? I'm very intrigued by this one. Looks fantastic, and I really like the music in the launch trailer.

Mmmh, not really, I mean you don't really model your town so much as you make it grow along the path that it's supposed to follow, unlike Animal Crossing. you only influence the placement of the bloom booth in terms of design and it's more so that you get to increase their revenue by placing them strategically. As for Harvest Moon, growing things is rather scaled back, it's not a big focus as not all booths require materials that are grown out of the ground. But the Zelda influence is clearly there however. I realise i didn't mention the L-targetting system borrowed from the 3D Zelda games, or the L button replacing the camera behind he player just like in Ocarina of Time 3D. 

I didn't really feel a Mana vibe from this game though. It's its own thing. The chara design is very different, the races present do not echo anything in particular from the Mana universe, neither do the enemies resemble those from the Mana series. It is definitely its very own thing in that regard.

( Edited 13.07.2017 17:40 by Guest )

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

That's very interesting. Makes me wonder if Ishii-san wants to distance himself from always being referred to as "the guy behind Mana" especially after seeing Brownie Brown originally labelled as "that team that worked on the Mana series" for quite some time.

( Edited 13.07.2017 17:40 by Guest )

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

I was really unsure about this, but honestly you've sold me with the review!

( Edited 13.07.2017 17:40 by Guest )

Reading Rudy's in-depth review, and watching those two trailers above have got me very interested indeed. Starting to see more of the Zelda stylings the more I watch.

( Edited 13.07.2017 17:40 by Guest )

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
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I originally had a paragraph in there comparing this in tone, difficulty and release timing to Solatorobo which was also a kid friendly, colourful, late-release action RPG for the DS, and which i coincidentally reviewed myself too back when it was released (and that game at the time was also picked up by Nintendo themselves for publishing across Europe). I got the exact same vibe from playing Ever Oasis, although both game are of course very different. I had to cut that paragraph for length reasons though Smilie.

( Edited 13.07.2017 17:40 by Guest )

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

Quite honestly I was gonna skip this, but this sounds far better than I thought it would be. On my radar now. 

( Edited 13.07.2017 17:40 by Guest )

It's fun so far. Might be a little bit slower than expected at the start, but fun nonetheless Smilie

( Edited 13.07.2017 17:41 by Guest )

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
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The initial tutorial stages don't last for very long, as it goes you become more and more free to do things as you please, while still being steered towards the goal of the game by the main plot. But the main plot actually advances through your doing whatever you want since you need to find new residents and to explore new areas to do so.

For those unsure, isn't there a demo on the eShop that became available one week before release?

( Edited 13.07.2017 17:41 by Guest )

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

Yes, there's a demo. I heard some people were put off by it, though, so I avoided it and dived straight in after reading your glowing review Smilie After all, sometimes demos don't quite do the proper job of convincing people.

( Edited 13.07.2017 17:41 by Guest )

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Our member of the week

Haven't tried the demo for obvious reasons, so I wouldn't know, but indeed depending on the length of the demo, you may be mislead into thinking that all you do is manage the town, which couldn't be farther from the truth.

( Edited 13.07.2017 17:41 by Guest )

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

Yeah, I can only presume that's the case.

By the way, what do you think about people comparing this to Actraiser?

( Edited 13.07.2017 17:41 by Guest )

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
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Our member of the week

Adam Riley said:
Yeah, I can only presume that's the case.

By the way, what do you think about people comparing this to Actraiser?


I'm a huge fan of Actraiser. I own it twice, 1st on the original hardware in Japanese and then on Wii VC, so that's a title I know well for having completed it multiple times over the years. I don't see the same vibe in both games. I mean Actraiser is at core an action RPG platformer and a very challenging one at that with very dark tones, where the town building and expanding is more of a distraction as you just expand until you can't anymore to increase your level of experience and then move on to the next town with side scrolling acts thrown in-between. I feel Ever Oasis is much different. You only have one town and you don't so much expand it by instructing your residents as you attract new ones that are each very unique and not just a bunch of impersonal numbers on screen.

I got a different vibe though that I forgot to mention, other than the Solotorobo one. I got a bit of Little King's Story off of it, minus the pikmin-like combat. Because you expand your town/kingdom in the case of LKS, attracting more people, but you also head out into the wilderness outside your town/kingdom, bringing your own residents/subjects with you to battle for you/with you in trying to expand your home even further and your characters also level up while doing so. Also, in LKS, each of your units while they may not have a developed personality like in Ever Oasis, they are individuals with a name and a voice of their own too. Both games are also very lighthearted and fit all kinds of audiences.

( Edited 13.07.2017 17:41 by Guest )

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer
Me2032 (guest) 05.07.2017#14

I personally find it to be a hybrid of Mana and Darkcloud. great game

( Edited 13.07.2017 17:41 by Guest )

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