Surprisingly ethereal. Surprisingly topical.
I’m not sure what’s happening in Maya’s life right now; truthfully, I’m not sure she is either.
She knows her mother works long hours from home, never finding time for her and is instead always on her phone. She knows that no one is allowed to go outside, and that the state will provide all their needs for them while everyone’s huddled indoors. And she knows that she’s a capable little girl who can do great things, if only everyone else would listen.
She knows this, and I know this, because I’m on the edge of my seat, eager to find out what happens next through Maya’s eyes in Ever Forward, an upcoming 3D platformer/puzzle game from Pathea Games (My Time at Portia). Expected to launch this July, Ever Forward is a feast for the eyes that promises a scintillating story told piece by piece through puzzle after puzzle.
The player takes control of Maya, a young girl who feels more present in an absolutely gorgeous landscape beset by tumultuous puzzles. As she encounters each puzzle, she solves them with the help of a friendly cube, who enables her to see enemy robots who would literally destroy her. By sneaking around them and getting to the finish line, she can complete the puzzle, and we are treated to a cutscene that peers into her memories.
These memories of hers are worrying, if I’m being honest — a sweet little girl who wants nothing more than to play with her mother outside is stopped at every turn — first because her mother is constantly having to take phone calls, and then, soon after, because some unknown force wages war on the land. Suddenly, Maya finds herself restricted from going outside to play on her swing or check on her growing tree, and instead must occupy herself in her room while her mother continues working.
Where she feels trapped in her memories, the beautiful landscape we have come to know is freeing, as she’s able to run, jump, and even fly with the help of her friendly cube. Of course, it’s all for a set purpose — we must uncover her memories and get to the bottom of why we’re in this serene world, and maybe there’s something we can do to solve the troubles of the one from her memory.
Controls are straightforward, with WASD moving Maya, space for jumping, and “E” for interacting. The gameplay is also simple — get from point A to point B without setting off the killer robots. You’ll have to do this by sneaking cleverly around them, distracting them by making noise away from you, or using switches to assist in your travels. Each puzzle builds upon concepts learned from the last, so pay attention to how you’re solving each step as you progress.
The scenery was absolutely gorgeous — really stole the show — and it helps sell this rather ethereal landscape to be playing a little girl in a flowy white dress. Additionally, the music is quite pleasant, and the jarring transition from placid pastures to the puzzles helped sell the story that, underneath all of this beautiful nature, something is really, really wrong, which made me want to keep going despite the increasing difficulty. Ever Forward has certainly bewitched me, and I’m eager to play more to learn what happens next.
If I have one complaint at this time, it’s that I wish the movement felt more fluid. For how stunningly smooth everything else looks and feels, the somewhat clunky movements detracted from the entire experience. I wouldn’t say the controls are truly clunky, but they are mildly clumsy in comparison to how everything else feels. It’s a minor complaint, and one I’m sure is being addressed in development.
One look at Ever Forward’s trailer and I knew something special was headed our way. With amazing aesthetics, scintillating story, and perplexing puzzles, Ever Forward should be high on everyone’s wishlist. If you enjoyed Gris or other games that explore the psyche in oblique ways, be sure to keep an eye on Ever Forward, coming to Steam this summer.
More information as well as a free demo can be found on the game’s Steam page.