Ever Forward (PC) Review

By Renan Fontes 26.08.2020

Review for Ever Forward on PC

Puzzle solving has always been the necessary answer to the action that drives most gameplay loops. In truth, puzzles and combat are two sides of the same coin. Where the latter engages an audience on a mechanical level, the former is designed around mental stimulation. It's important to recognise that "action" is not the same as combat, though, and puzzlers can easily make up for a lack of a traditional gameplay loop with exploration, a well-written script, or just plain old good puzzle design. A puzzle-platformer, Ever Forward's ethereal story mixes stealth with Zelda-esque puzzles; but it loses itself in its own simplicity.

Ever Forward may be a puzzle-platformer, but its platforming doesn't amount to much else beyond stealth and the occasional flight segments. Protagonist Maya is grounded for the most part, and while she can call for help from a handy Roundy-bot her mother built to help her gain some air, the majority of the adventure is spent grounded, slowly solving puzzles or stealth-ing around hazards. Maya is never in any physical danger, but stepping in range of rogue Roundy-bot sentries ostensibly causes a game over and resets whichever puzzle players were working on. This is never too punishing, though, allowing Maya to jump back into the action immediately.

Stealth is a priority at almost all times, with the earliest puzzles requiring players to slowly make their way around sentries without alerting their attention - either by moving slowly or around their watch patterns. Most of the title's challenges are based around observational puzzle-solving. The audience is expected to pay attention to how quickly sentries are moving, and where exactly they are looking. Not only that, Maya can pick up and throw blocks to distract Roundy-bots and solve switch puzzles to open-up new pathways… many of which even require Maya to step on the switch and run as fast as possible before whatever path she's triggered retracts.

Screenshot for Ever Forward on PC

The majority of Maya's journey is spent in an ethereal, almost medically clean, world that's been fragmented. Soft whites and greys lend the setting a dreamlike quality, accented by sharp shades of red in the background. The almost clinical aesthetic makes it easy to get lost in the atmosphere, easing players into puzzle solving like a trance. This ends up contrasting quite nicely with tension tied to stealth-ing around Roundy-bots. While sentries are never too aggressive, it doesn't take long for them to appear in pairs. It's then required to not only stealth around Roundy-bots, but also distract them while creating a path forward through switch and block puzzles, if need be.

Ever Forward does an admirable job of introducing the building blocks for a strong puzzle-platformer, but it never pushes itself any further. There is a difficulty curve, and tension does rise adequately over the course of Maya's journey, but there are at most three hours of gameplay, with room for error. There are even intermission stages where Maya can explore a lush environment to find Leaves - in-game collectibles that can be redeemed for hints, offering players a crutch should they need it. It's hard not to feel like the main campaign isn't set-up for a more elaborate puzzler. Right when the level design starts to really come together and lose the repetition of carrying blocks around, the story ends.

For what it's worth, the title's Steam page does indicate that DLC is on the way - something the current length desperately needs - but that doesn't change the fact that the final product stops short of making the most of its own design. Worse is that the price isn't cheap considering the length, making the final playtime feel almost like a slap in the face. Ever Forward is a creative puzzle-platformer filled with great ideas, but it fails to live up to its full potential.

Screenshot for Ever Forward on PC

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

It's quite telling that Ever Forward's demo (released independently with the subtitle Prologue) isn't that much shorter than an actual full play-through. Despite the title's tense stealth sections, and fairly involved puzzle-solving, the fact of the matter is that the final product plays out like the tutorial to a much longer adventure that never starts. By the time Maya's story starts to breathe, and the core gameplay begins introducing complex and layered puzzles, the journey is more or less over. The atmosphere is commendable, as are the puzzles actually present, but the is sure to leave genre veterans disappointed, and newcomers desperate for some meat to chew on.

Developer

Pathea Games

Publisher

Pathea Games

Genre

Action

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

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   

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