Dodging the beats
Available on: Steam/Switch
Genre: Musical Bullet Hell
Publisher: Foreign Gnomes, Surefire.Games
Everhood opens up with you looking down into trippy (I’ll try not to say this a lot) background that looks similar to a portal with a voice reaching out to you, welcoming you. Before you can dive right into this game’s universe, you must accept the fact that it’s required to abandon your humanity and accept immortality if you want to enter. This won’t make sense going in at first, as this only seems like a play on a contract signing requirement from a popular series, but it does play a part later on. Afterwards, you’re thrown into controlling a wooden doll named Red after his clothing. Red’s start isn’t a nice one as he’s disassembled. Before he pulls himself together, though, a dwarf comes along to steal one of Red’s arms. Of course, you can’t let that thief go with your arm so you go on a quest to get it back.
Well, this is only the first half of the game. The second half, well, I’m not going to spoil Everhood for anyone, but let’s just say getting your arm back brings along Red’s real purpose and starts a domino effect on answering questions you may have had since the beginning.
Other than a kind banjo playing frog that’s worried over whether Red can still defend himself, you’ll be coming across a colorful cast of characters that you’ll more than likely battle sometime during your adventure. Each character has their own way of battling, any special effects they’ll have on the battle screen, and music.
An easy way to describe the battles is if you’re playing Guitar Hero, but instead of having the button prompts as a guide to accuracy and well having to feel the rhythm to match the notes thrown at you, instead it’s a battle against them as you’re at the bottom of all the columns. You can freely move left or right between the 5 columns along with jumping. The character you’re battling is at the other end and the actions they do along with the beat of their song will cause notes to fly down toward you. Except here, you don’t want to be hit, but dodge them whether it be jumping over them right before it hits you, moving to another row, or performing a jump roll. There are different note types, along with colors that illuminates them, as you’ll have notes that take up one row, multiple rows, ones that have barriers to prevent you from jumping over them, and one that’s a total surprise. More than a row of notes will come at you though, so you need to quickly adapt. Granted, in some battles, you can just cheese it by sticking to a column where notes aren’t generally going down. All you have to do is outlast your opponent until they tire themselves out.
This isn’t even mentioning what’s going on with the characters and the background of the battle area (and even the whole battle area) will even distract you from the notes. You’ll of course be able to see the character in full force, but the animations that go along with them to give the characters more personality. Some battles will even work more with the visuals as it messes with your perspective, have bursts of color or other visuals unique to them, or just going absolutely insane making you both mesmerized by what’s happening and wondering how you’re managing to keep an eye on the notes at the same time.
To break things up a bit, there are battles that deviate and/or meant to be fun (despite being required to move on). Some battles take place in the actual world, there are obstacle courses, there’s a racing minigame, a tennis minigame, and even a whole section that is just you playing a board game with some of the characters.
If you’re having trouble, or one of the mad lads that needs everything at the highest difficulty, there are 5 different difficulties you can set your game at. As the beats can’t exactly be changed here, after all it’s not really a rhythm game, it more focuses on your health. The easier your difficulty, the more health you’ll have and the faster your health will regenerate; with the opposite happening as you go up in difficulty. I would suggest starting on Normal difficulty as you can always adjust it whether it’s outside of battle or before jumping right back in after failing.
The music and art is an important aspect to Everhood and it hits for me. Everyone has their own taste, but I enjoyed all of the songs Everhood features and I love how it changes along with the character. Like the ATM machine mimicking the beeps it would have normally made into a song with a dash of cymbals, Zigg’s being a song you would totally see playing in some underground club, and (spoilers) the tense build up for one of the knight battles only for it to go down the calm route as a surprise. I do hope we get an option to replay the battles without going through the whole game again (or . And while the art is pixelated, of course showing you more detail of the character when you engage in battle, Everhood doesn’t hesitate but to go outside of the box to memorize the player.
There is a New Game+ that becomes available once you finish the game. While there isn’t a separate option, the game does detect when you already finished the game, but you can make sure your next new game will be a NG+ by trying to Continue off the save you finished the game on, have the cursor change, and then start a New Game. From what I’ve seen, not much is changed other than an additional incinerator section, a new NPC that shows up after getting your arm back that will lead you to a new boss, and some added dialogue (after getting your arm back) that some characters or entities do know that this isn’t your first run. In addition, this will let you make other choices and do what you previously missed out on.
If you were drawn to Everhood based on the music, the way battles are handled, the surreal story hook that threatens to break this universe’s reality, and maybe looking for another game inspired by Undertale, you will very well enjoy this game. The battles in the demo was only but a taste and the music only gets better with the battles bringing in more aspects and some getting pretty trippy with the visuals and how it tries to trip you up. I had a lot of fun playing through the battles and trying to decipher the surreal aspects of the story. However, don’t go into this expecting a rhythm game.
I’d say that if you enjoyed the demo, you’ll enjoy the full game and I for sure recommend checking this out for anyone that finds Everhood interesting.