A bustling town is stricken with chaos leaving the chief's young brother with the difficult job of building a new Oasis from scratch. Do you have what it takes to rebuild and defend your lively town?
You play as an acclaimed aspiring village chief who is determined to live in his (or her) brother's footsteps and be an admired leader. At the start of the journey, you can choose from a male or female character and pick a few attributes such as their name and details of their appearance. The character models resemble small bugs and the overworld further exemplifies this as you'll often feel like a little beetle that's just playing in sand while fighting enemies and finding crystals to protect the land. It's quite an endearing setting that does a great job of making insects look adorable and shows what lines of ants that walk around with a breadcrumb in real life might actually be thinking.
Visually, Ever Oasis is a very colourful game. There's a lot of detail in the character art and the scenery and with there being multiple races of characters to interact with, there's no shortage of unique features. From the golden-billed ducks with blue scarves on their heads to the red beetles adorned with tattered clothing and giant hammers made of cacti, there's tons of variety to enjoy. You'll visit a lot of different lands, too, such as the autumnal Kilari Woodsea, the jungle-like Forgotten Forest and the sea caverns of the Ocean Necropolis.
The Oasis that you're protecting throughout the campaign starts out as a small area around a pool of water. As you complete quests and convince visitors to make the Oasis their home, it expands and becomes more abundant with plant life. It's quite thrilling when you see the notification pop up telling you to visit the water goddess (Esna) as it usually means you're ready for an upgrade.
Increasing the level of the Oasis doesn't just sprout more plant life; it also changes its layout to allow for additional spaces for stores as well as unlocks new gaming mechanisms. You'll open up the ability to send villagers on explorations to fetch materials or level up, build additional gardens and the option to set villagers as gardeners, add extra road coverings and relics to change the appearance of the town and gain the ability to restock stores in bulk. Stores are a big part of Ever Oasis as they serve multiple purposes. A lot of the villagers want to open up a specific type of shop such as a ball shop, book shop, sash shop or soup shop and there are dozens to choose from.
Visiting desert dwellers may have an interest in a specific type of shop and will only move in once you've built it yet others will only move in when you've amassed a few different types and completed a quest for them. You can visit the shops daily to collect your share of the profits in the adorably-named currency dewadems. The shops can also level up twice after you complete certain quests for the owners and they give you stamps on a card when you restock them. When you fill up a card with stamps, you can throw a festival for the town that attracts more visitors and brings in some extra cash. Dewadems are used to place objects in the Oasis such as the shops themselves and other statues that boost the performance of shops nearby as well as make equipment from recipes that you find in the field.
When you're not at home in the Oasis, you'll be out in the field with two chums of your choice battling enemies and completing story-driven quests or sidequests which play a big role in Ever Oasis as almost every one is guaranteed to bring in another resident for the Oasis. More residents means you're one step closer to leveling up the town and unlocking more of the game. Examples of sidequests include being told by a resident that they saw someone standing in an area at a certain time of day who was interested in a given object, gathering specific materials, and finding an object that someone dropped in the sand (which is thankfully much easier than it sounds). The main story has you mostly on a linear path to find crystals that are used to stave off the chaos from attacking the Oasis. Finding the crystals requires lots of investigation, talking to multiple people in the world and traversing Zelda-like dungeons with your buddies.
In order to navigate through the dungeons, you need to select party members with the right skill sets and equipment. Rangers use clippers to cut through cobwebs, Warriors have long spears and Guards wield giant hammers to break boulders. Other seedlings (the same race as the protagonist) are more flexible and can hold different kinds of weapons such as staffs, crossbows and shurikens. On top of the weapons, each character has an ability such as mining, paraflower (float-type ability), deploy a leaf wall to rebound objects, and digging. As I mentioned earlier, the gameplay in the dungeons can be compared quite closely to Zelda. You'll be on the search for keys and relics to unlock doorways while fending off many types of enemies and completing puzzles with various abilities and equipment at your disposal. Each enemy has a weakness to a type of attack and having the right party members and equipment can make all the difference when trying to take on some of the nastier ones.
As you can see, Ever Oasis is a fun game with lots to do. However, there are a couple of things that nagged me. For starters, there's no voice acting. Most big games on 3DS have voice acting and it felt a little strange that it's absent here. A good cast of actors would have added another touch of flair to the unique group of characters. The camera is the other thing that much too often irritated me during my playthrough of Ever Oasis. Seeing as enemies are always crawling around the room and attacking you from all directions, having the camera focused on the action is a must. However, it often sits at the wrong angle and you'll find yourself constantly resetting it or having to take your hand off the action buttons to move the camera with the second analog stick (only available on New 3DS or with the help of a Circle Pad Pro). I took quite a beating in the battles and it would have been more fun if the camera was properly positioned.
Ever Oasis has a charming, varied, and colourful world to explore with many characters who join you on your journey to safeguard your newfound home once and for all. If you're a fan of action-packed adventures, you can't go wrong with this adorable pocket-sized tale.
- + Cute and colourful world
- + Lots of skills and twists continuously keep the gameplay fresh
- + Growing your Oasis is rewarding
- - Lack of voice acting
- - Camera can be frustrating to deal with