I've been looking forward to playing this nifty sci-fi ARPG for quite a long time so let's see if Everreach: Project Eden was worth the wait.
Everreach: Project Eden was developed by Elder Games who also created the worst shoot 'em up that I've ever played; Solar Shifter EX. However, this project looked much more promising with its turn-of-the-millennium sci-fi narrative and somewhat retro aesthetic. For starters, its story revolves around Planet Eden as humankind is looking to inhabit it so they send security forces including Nora Harwood who you play as on her mission to help colonize the planet. However, things aren't so simple on this alien planet as there are plenty of mysterious soldiers who appear to be out for colonist blood. At least the local alien wildlife seems tame. As you play, you'll ask yourself questions such as who are these hostile forces and is the company that you work for (Everreach) up to something shady? It's a fairly compelling narrative that'll make you want to explore Eden more and more as the plot unfolds.
Along with the cool premise, I also enjoyed Everreach: Project Eden's music. It features a fantastic synthesizer-heavy sci-fi soundscape as well as more dramatic orchestral arrangements. On the other end of the equation, the graphics are kind of disappointing. Some of the environments are quite beautiful but most are pretty generic and the character models look like they belong in an original Xbox game. On the plus side, you quickly meet a spherical robot companion shortly into the campaign who is genuinely funny. I thoroughly enjoyed its dry tone while it delivered some truly clever lines. In fact, I wish I had a humorous floating robot sphere that followed me around. Oh, and the narrative doesn't do a good job of making you care about the characters because it just thrusts you into the world with little exposition. You do learn more about Nora as the campaign goes on but I never really felt connected with her in any way.
Anyway, let's get to the gameplay. Everreach: Project Eden is broken up into distinct gameplay scenarios that'll have you exploring, shooting, solving puzzles, and riding a hover bike. Each mission is full of an impressive amount of variety and you'll regularly shift from one scenario to the next so situations rarely overstay their welcome. There's also a high degree of challenge which will test your aim and at times, your patience, too. The core combat is simple as all you do is aim and shoot and you can crouch behind stuff as well which greatly helps with avoiding enemy fire. You'll mostly shoot down drones and space soldiers and the firefights can get pretty intense.
With all of that being said, Everreach: Project Eden is an incredibly frustrating game for many reasons. One of my main complaints is that Nora seems to get stuck on everything from brushing past railings to stumbling on small rocks so whenever you want to run away from foes, you might not make it to a safe distance after getting snagged on something. On top of this, if you face more than 1 enemy at once, your health will drain faster than you can say bologna sandwich so you really have to be super-careful while confronting foes. These aspects and more make the gameplay feel unrefined and often unfair which, needless to say, is like a total bummer, dude.
Finally, allow me to discuss a redeeming quality about Everreach: Project Eden. As you discover loot, fight enemies, and solve timed puzzles, you'll amass a wealth of experience points and materials. The former is used to level up which grants points that you can allocate to Nora's 3 base stats while the latter lets you purchase upgrades which can substantially improve your capabilities on the battlefield. Heck, you can even unlock the ability to place a forcefield which I found particularly useful. There are a few other gadgets and skills that you'll unlock, too, and watching Nora's stats and repertoire expand is rewarding stuff indeed.
Even though I enjoyed my time with Everreach: Project Eden for the most part, there's no denying just how half-baked it is. If it released for the original Xbox, it would probably be a cult hit but in 2019, it simply feels dated.
- + Cool premise, music, and funny robot friend
- + Action-packed campaign is full of variety and challenging situations
- + Rewarding character growth
- - Character models are subpar at best
- - Loads of frustrating moments due to unrefined and often unfair gameplay
- - Doesn't make you care about the cast