Published: Pathea and Circle Entertainment
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox 1, PC
Initial Release: May 2020
We must move, Ever Forward
In Ever Forward players are Maya, a young girl lost on the edge of what is real and what is a dream. Long forgotten memories are unlocked with each completed puzzle, players reveal the mysteries of Maya’s subconscious and begin to help her face her fears. Moving through different environments, facing challenging puzzles, we slowly discover more and more about Maya and her past.
This journey leads us through beautiful, pastel-coloured landscapes, across idyllic beaches and through sprawling meadows before we stumble across a memory. These red, angry-looking blights on the peace lead us to futuristic neon environments where we must solve the puzzle to return home. This world, stuck in between fiction and reality begins to open up as players piece more and more of Maya’s memories together, unearth new puzzles and shed light on what is buried in Maya’s subconscious.
Something very interesting about these puzzles is the multiple ways in which they can be completed. Bin Yang director of Ever Forward explained how “(Our) development team spent more than three years designing challenges with the ultimate puzzle adventure fans in mind”. Each puzzle can be completed in several different ways to reflect the ways that different people approach puzzles and different ways of problem-solving. I have to admit one puzzle had me so immensely stuck I had to take to YouTube to check a guide on how to complete it, but no matter how I followed the guide, I still couldn’t get to the end. So I watched another, that showed a hugely different approach and one that just had me sail through to the end.
In Ever Forward there is no wrong way
These neon puzzle areas really reminded me of playing through Portal. We must avoid the sentry bots and get a cube from the beginning to the end. A combination of the glowing white, the beeping bots and the cubes led to that Portal vibe I mentioned before. But, it by no means feels like a Portal copy, these similarities feel more like a love letter to the series.
The cerebral nature of the puzzles will have players feeling both elated when they come to the end but heavily frustrated as they are zapped by sentry bots for the 1000000th time!
A little puzzling
As much as Ever Forward is visually really engaging, accompanied by a relaxing soundtrack. Whilst Maya explores the ‘real’ world, the pacing feels halted more often than not. Players can spend so long trying to complete puzzles that they have forgotten about this other world or what they are trying to achieve.
Whilst the compulsion to keep repeating the puzzle until it is complete, some of the mechanics could be better explained. In many ways, you feel launched into a situation with very little guidance. The game does offer a hint option. However, you are only able to get a hint for a puzzle if you have collected leaves in the real world. Something that was not explained until I had unknowingly walked through some leaves. But even then I only found them once.
Ever Forward excels in its puzzles. They make up for where you maybe lose track of the underlying narrative and aim of the game. It is visually impressive and engaging, it’s well worth spending the time working out the cerebral puzzles. Where different aspects let Ever Forward down; the hint system etc, it is still a very strong puzzle adventure.
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