Everhood Eternity Edition Review
Everhood Eternity Edition is an enhanced port of Everhood, making its way to PlayStation and Xbox systems for the first time following the game’s original release on PC and Nintendo Switch a few years ago. This new edition comes with eternity battles, playable songs separate from the main story (though unlocked through story progress), accompanied by their own visuals and leaderboard.
After a meta opening where you must accept the terms to begin, Everhood starts off with a disassembled puppet having his arm stolen by a gnome. This then prompts him to rejoin the rest of himself together (now looking like a certain character from a Nintendo RPG that’s getting remade this year) and give chase. Before that, he must prove himself capable in the tutorial since he has been weakened. From then on, minor irritations such as broken ATMs must be fought, as well as the many people who don’t want you to get your arm back.
Going into battle for the first time I was actually quite irritated at the Guitar Hero comparison I’d heard of, as it left me quite unprepared for how I’d actually be playing Everhood. While all battles are accompanied by a song, and played on a guitar neck-like layout, instead of pressing buttons to match the beat you need to avoid the notes that play entirely. Each hit you take does fair amounts of damage, with little time to regenerate health. This is controlled by either jumping, simply moving to one of the other few lanes, or dodge rolling into one. The latter two will be important as some notes coming down cannot be avoided otherwise.
I wasn’t really a fan of this style, except for the one fight that gave me more space to dodge, and with that I was able to enjoy the music more. Songs in battle aren’t very long at all, though, with longer ones having checkpoints. When I joined some other characters in a tabletop game (which is also when I started to enjoy the strange charm of the game) leading to battles that let me reflect colored attacks I yearned for that to be the main gameplay.
Thankfully once you finally get your arm back, you can attack. This requires collecting three of the same color notes in a row to then reflect back (picking up a different color will start it again), without getting blocked by an incoming one, and you can’t collect notes with black lines. While it sounds more difficult, I found it made the game much easier at this point, or at least more fun to me as it wasn’t just a matter of surviving an invisible clock. Given said brevity of some songs, I had to re-do some fights as I couldn’t deal enough damage within the time constraint. Besides that, battles do shake up from time to time, such as a friendly game on the Smega console requiring you to not miss in a tennis video game, or a cart riding section where you not only needed to dodge but had to make your way left and right to push the buttons to move forward.
Outside of battle, it’s the typical “unconventional” indie RPG manner of talking to the residents of a strange, yet somewhat modern world and doing minor tasks to get to where you need to be. There are also a few secrets and I did get into some unnecessary fights myself. While the gameplay initially wasn’t for me, I see that it is for a lot of people, and they will have even more of it to enjoy in this version of the game thanks to the eternity battles.
There are minor comparisons to be made to Undertale. To me, it’s not that both games have strangely designed and personified characters, or that they have unconventional battle systems, but more so the visual style, playing in locations otherwise surrounded by a black void. Everhood is also about the morality of fighting monsters, though taking it a very different way.
There are some minor issues I found, such as many characters/objects needing to be spoken to on a particular point that was never clear, and the double tap to run got annoying as I’d always end up tilting myself in a new direction and slow down instantly. Well, that and the other racers are clearly cheating in the kart section, as they seem to drive right through obstacles, but it has no bearing on the overall game and story.
While the main world is comprised of pixel art with matching text and black void to house the various pathways, the battles take the visual presentation to a whole new level. Aside from the neon colours accompanying notes, in the top half of battles your opponent is displayed often paired with fun animations, like a couple of buds using their planks to play guitar. Unfortunately, your eyes are glued towards the bottom half in order to survive. Certain fights could get very psychedelic, going out of their way to make it more difficult by obscuring your vision, like smearing your last movements over the screen or turning the battlefield about. This joined the visual elements and gameplay in a way I actually enjoyed and once again shook things up a bit (maybe literally).
Obviously, music is a major component of this game, but the song quality is starkly varied, especially since they're all intricately tied into the battles. Mostly it's different kinds of electronic music, but there are some other genres in the mix. With some exceptions most songs fit into a two-minute range, meaning even the good ones can't really be enjoyed while playing.
Everhood is a fairly short RPG (depending on your skill level and chosen difficulty at least), but it does seem to encourage a repeat playthrough or two. Given that the first ending, the one you’re quite firmly guided towards seems to be the right thing to do, following playthroughs (except to get some secret boss fights) come off as a bit strange. While you might expect a subversion of expectations when it comes to the moral dilemma of this game, normally a “true” ending is something saved for last, so I suppose that was the real subversion. While you might get some more context for the world, most of that was found in notes scattered around and conversations already had.
While the subject matter was interesting, giving a reason for such a world to exist, it just wasn’t as thought-provoking as the subtitle “An Ineffable Tale of the Inexpressible Divine Moments of Truth” might suggest, though that could simply be tongue-in-cheek. Everhood Eternity Edition allows more players to experience this tale about doing the right thing, along with more battles for those who enjoy it. I however didn’t feel the need to keep repeating the cycle, and while I found some enjoyment in the later part of the game, it didn’t hit all the right notes for me.