It’s pretty nice, this desert paradise
I’d like to say that my decision to pick up Ever Oasis was a well-informed one. That I decided to buy it after doing some research. That I really made sure that I wanted it before I bought it. But nope, that’s not me! As much as I would enjoy saying that I always intelligently purchase my video games, I’ve never fully grown out of buying them on a whim (although I have gotten better, thank you very much).
So, if it wasn’t a well-informed decision that led me to buying Ever Oasis, what was it? Well, let’s see… The little I saw of it before I bought it kind of reminded me of Fantasy Life (a comparison I later found out to be mostly incorrect). I also knew that Koichi Ishii, the man behind Secret of Mana, played a major part in this game’s development. Oh, and one time I played a game called Beyond Oasis. I liked that a lot, so playing another game with the word “oasis” in the title had to be a good idea. Right?
Anyway, regardless of why I decided to purchase Ever Oasis, I’m glad that I did. Ever Oasis provided new and unique adventure that, while a bit easy for my tastes, was both fun and refreshing. And it’s a game that I’d gladly recommend to most anyone.
Ever Oasis begins with your Seedling protagonist (who is customizable, I might add), helping their older brother Nour prepare for a festival at his Oasis – a prosperous safe haven, free from the Chaos that has engulfed most of the world. As the younger sibling of an Oasis Chief, your character is destined to one day leave in order to start an Oasis of their own. Seeing as how your character is a tad young however, you still have a while longer to wait before you’re ready to set off all by your lonesome.
…Or so you thought. While an Oasis is supposed to protect those in its vicinity from all harm, the Chaos has become quite powerful as of late. So powerful, in fact, that it’s now capable of forming itself into a physical being and attacking everything in sight. And sadly, while your dear brother Nour’s Oasis is strong, it just isn’t strong enough to fight off the full brunt of the chaotic onslaught. Just as the Chaos is about to envelop the both of you, Nour uses his wind magic – blasting you far, far away from the crumbling Oasis which you once called home.
When you awaken, you find yourself face-to-face with a mysterious blue being. Introducing herself as the water spirit Esna, she states that is her destiny to create a prosperous Oasis with a chosen Seedling. Even more importantly, she’s the last of her kind. It seems as though the Chaos has gotten so strong that every other water spirit in the world has been devoured – leaving poor Esna all alone. Luckily, you’re just the Seedling Esna’s been looking for. After explaining your situation to her, the two of you decide to create an Oasis together – the literal last bastion of hope against the Chaos.
A Garden of Happiness
Your primary task in Ever Oasis, not surprisingly, is to build an Oasis. But not just any Oasis. The best Oasis around. Actually, now that I think about it, yours is the last Oasis around. I suppose that that would make it the best by default. But are you going to rest on those laurels? Heck no! You’re going to do everything in your power to make your Oasis as prosperous as possible! (That is the point of the game, after all.)
Growing your Oasis requires a few things. First and foremost, it needs people. I mean it can’t really be all that prosperous if it’s just you running around, now can it? You can acquire new residents for your Oasis in a number of ways. In the beginning, it really doesn’t require much. Due to the way the story progresses, you’ll have a number visitors show up and, without much effort on your part, decide to settle down.
After that, it’s up to you to grow your Oasis on your own… well, sort of. Ironically, most of your new visitors will show up thanks to information provided by existing residents. I’m not actually sure how everyone is hearing all of these rumors but hey, at least they’re bothering to tell you. Rumors come in two types. The first is location-based. One of your residents will mention seeing or hearing about someone in a specific area. Typically, all you need to do is go find them and they’ll visit you in a day or two. The second kind of rumor is store-based. This means that they’ll only show up once certain stores appear in your Oasis (more on that later).
There’s still more work to do, however! Once someone visits your Oasis, there’s potential for them to move there forever. It’s your job to turn that potential into a reality! It isn’t that difficult, though. Convincing someone to move in works very similarly to convincing someone to visit you. Each visitor will have a number of requests, usually ranging anywhere from 1 – 3. Aside from a few storyline-specific ones, these all revolve around building stores or giving them items. If you can manage to fulfill those requests then congrats – you’ve just nabbed yourself a new resident!
I should also mention that visitors and residents come in a few different varieties. Many of your visitors will, like your own character, be Seedlings. Seedlings are the most flexible kind of character. They can set up shops, equip a bunch of different weapons, and even have customizable outfits. Next, there are the three desert-dwelling races (collectively known as “desert dwellers”), the Drauk, the Serkah, and the Lagora. Desert dwellers can’t do as much in the Oasis, but are very helpful during adventures. Finally, there are Noots. Noots are a special kind of visitor that show up, buy a bunch of stuff, and leave. They’re adorable and profitable – a win-win!
Shop ’til you Drop
The second thing that your Oasis needs to thrive is money. You’d think that a steady income might be a little hard to come by given the current situation, but nope! The money flows in like water (which I think that it technically is). After becoming a resident, Seedlings are able to create stores. Contrary to what you may think, you can’t actually buy anything from these stores. Residents and visitors take care of that. Instead, it’s up to you to restock them. As Seedlings sell their stock, they make money. And part of that money goes to you!
After enough selling and restocking, Seedling stores are able to level up. Leveling up allows Seedlings to start selling new products, sell more of their old products at a time, and powers up their combat stats. There is a bit of legwork, however. As with pretty much everything else in the game, you’ll need to complete a quest before leveling up the store. These quests work exactly like the rest, requiring you to gather items, fight something, or take the shop owner somewhere.
Conceptually, turning your humble Oasis into a thriving metropolis is a great idea, and actually doing so was fun, but I feel as though Ever Oasis fell short of its full potential. While this game boasts a plethora of mechanics, they’re all only there to a certain extent. Nothing was ever too in-depth; what you saw was what you got. There was also no way to lose. Aside from not making money, you could decide to never restock your stores and be just fine. I understand that the developers couldn’t dedicate their time to fleshing every single aspect of the game out as much as possible, but the lack of depth with the actual Oasis-building was noticeable.
Hitting the Old Dusty Trail
It’s not enough just to build an Oasis. You also have to keep safe! With the ever-foreboding Chaos growing stronger by the day, the normal power that an Oasis has isn’t just isn’t enough to protect its citizens. Because of that, you’ll need to go out and collect Lumite – mysterious relics capable of pushing back the Chaos. Of course, collecting Lumite isn’t going to be easy. If it was, then the Chaos probably wouldn’t be quite as powerful as it is now. The Lumite are well-guarded, and hidden in a small number of dungeons scattered throughout the world. And you know what that means, don’t you? That’s right, it’s for an adventure!
Exploration in Ever Oasis has a very Legend of Zelda feel to it that encourages players to explore. Each of the game’s overworld areas are vast, and contain a number of caves absolutely ripe for spelunking. There isn’t always a specific order to explore things in, either. Due to the way that the game is set up, you’re pretty much allowed to wander around wherever you’d like in the given area that you’re in. I always feel like it’s a good sign when you’ve explored so much in a game that you forget what it was that you were originally supposed to be doing. I can happily say that that happened to me in Ever Oasis.
Even more impressive were the game’s dungeons. Once again emulating a Legend of Zelda feel, the dungeons are… well, they’re like what you’d find in a 3D Legend of Zelda game – except for the fact that you aren’t carrying around a bunch of items. Instead, you’ll need to switch around your party members. Every resident has their own unique ability, many of which you’ll need to solve puzzles. This might be an issue if you had to walk back to your Oasis on foot, but the game’s Aqua Gate ability literally allows you to teleport to your safe haven from anywhere in the game. That’s kind of cheap if you think about it, but it’s certainly better than the alternative.
And of course, an RPG just wouldn’t be an RPG without levels and loot – and Ever Oasis delivers on that front as well. In terms of mechanics, there isn’t actually much to explain. You fight things, you gain EXP, you level up, and sometimes you find treasure chests with cool things like swords or wands inside of them. You’re also able to craft items back at your house, although I found myself using this quite a bit less than I had originally expected to.
Refreshing and Fun
It’s safe to call Ever Oasis a “Jack-of-All-Trades” game. Between building a town, maintaining a thriving economy, and traveling around the world, there are certainly plenty of things to do. My main gripe with this game has to do with how lightly it touched upon those elements. When a game tries to do several things, you can’t expect them to all turn out as detailed as they would be had the game just focused on one of those things. I’m aware of that. But when it comes to a company like Grezzo, I was expecting just a little bit more.
Still, this game was definitely successful overall. Due to the fact that it does so much, it’s bound to catch your interest in one way or another. And if the gameplay isn’t your cup of tea, it’s hard to say no those undeniably cute graphics.
FINAL VERDICT: 3.5/5
Available on: 3DS ; Publisher: Nintendo ; Developer: Grezzo ; Players: 1 ; Released: June 23, 2017 ; ESRB: E10+ for Everyone 10+ ; MSRP: $39.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a copy of Ever Oasis purchased by the reviewer