It’s been a while since I’ve talked video games on the blog, but since I finished another one over spring break, it’s time!
Plus, this is a cute RPG set in a desert with colorful environments, stunning music, and a variety of characters to explore with. It’s Ever Oasis, and it’s worth talking about!
Released in 2017 for the 3DS only, Ever Oasis puts you in the shoes of a Seedling, a tiny little person who has the power to control the wind, and teams up with a water spirit to bring life to a desert oasis in the midst of Chaos bearing down on the world. You have the option to play as Tethu (the male avatar pictured above), or Tethi (the female avatar not pictured), and your partner in all things is Esna, the blue and gold water spirit in the image above.
As you work with Esna to expand your oasis and restore peace and prosperity to your world, you invite more Seedlings, as well as other creatures, to live in your oasis and set up shops called Bloom Booths. This combines the adventuring and dungeoneering elements of the game with a crafting element that helps you access new equipment, new clothes for your avatar, and new pieces of story information that add depth to the characters living in your oasis.
Personally, I had the most fun with the quest system. While I wish it would allow you to accept more than one side quest at a time, the game makes it easy to see who has a quest for you (they’ll have an exclamation point over their head when you see them in the oasis), and the quests include classic types like item collection, specific battles, and escort missions. Unlike most games, where the escort missions are THE WORST, I was delighted to find that the character you escort in Ever Oasis quests becomes a member of the party for the duration of the quest and is capable of fighting along the way. You don’t have to worry about them being fragile and helpless, causing you all kinds of problems with restarting over and over to get them to their destination, because they’re already pretty self-sufficient, especially if you’ve been adding them to your party now and again prior to taking on their quest.
There’s also a neat little exploration system that allows you to take some of the ingredient grinding off your shoulders. Finding all the crafting materials and keeping your Bloom Booths stocked as your oasis grows can be a little on the tough side until you unlock explorations, at which point, it’s a breeze. You’re able to send your non-Seedling residents into the desert on your behalf to collect either monster drops or non-monster materials, and they’ll return with a whole bounty for you to redistribute among shops as you see fit.
The one thing that does suck about the exploration system, though, is that there’s a bug which sometimes prevents you from unlocking one of the late-game exploration areas. It doesn’t prevent you from completing the game, and it doesn’t lock you out of anything you could miss, but it does make grinding for some ingredients solely your responsibility, since the option to delegate a team to cover that area isn’t available. This bug doesn’t strike every file, but I was unlucky enough to encounter it and not know I did until long after I could have quit without saving and tried another time to trigger the cutscene that makes the area available for exploration teams.
On the flipside, the bug is pretty late game, and you can totally get by without it, so ultimately, no sweat. And honestly, I’m personally taking it as a challenge. Makes it a little tougher, but that means I have a reason to put more time into it!
But moving on from mechanics, I want to mention the story of the game. Without going into details, since the last thing I want to do is spoil anything for anyone looking to play this, the story really held its own up until the final boss. I liked the way it progressed from area to area, giving you a fuller picture of the world your Seedling chief is living in without getting too overwhelming with stats and places and histories and such. While you can spend upwards of 30 hours on the game, you aren’t scrambling to remember the lore or where you were in the story or how you got there if you put it down for a couple months.
That said, sometimes the story feels a little simple. There are a couple story lines that could have had a greater impact if they’d been explored in more depth, and I was disappointed we didn’t get more. This is especially true of the final cutscenes, where I felt like the stakes weren’t quite high enough, and the payoff not quite emotional or thorough enough. It was by no means bad, just not quite fully rounded.
You do get a hefty dose of post-game content, though, with new festivals and oasis residents available to unlock. There’s also an achievements system to tackle once you’ve finished the game in the form of completing certain actions so many times, and a network of labyrinths to explore in order to level up your residents and obtain new items. At some points, the post game gets a little repetitive, since it doesn’t introduce any new story elements beyond the tidbits revealed in completing side quests, but I like the achievements system and the desire to complete the checklist keeps me coming back.
All in all, Ever Oasis is a fun, beautiful game that has so many hours of play time in it, and a really solid dungeoneering system. Hell, it let you revive your whole party up to three times by the end of the game if you all fall in battle without giving you a game over. That kind of leniency, coupled with the vibrant environments, simple controls, and engaging story makes it a really phenomenal game. I’d absolutely recommend it, especially if you like dungeon crawlers and games with heavy crafting elements but wish they were a little less restrained and linear.
Have you played Ever Oasis before? Think you’ll give it a try now? If you’re on the fence, there should be a free demo available for download from the Nintendo eShop, and you should give it a go! Bottom line, though? Let’s chat!