The Welsh Gaming Network was provided with a review key for Evergate, by developer Stone Lantern Games LLC / Publisher PQube Limited. This 2D Puzzle Platformer is available on Steam for £7.99
Waking up in the afterlife should not be this beautiful.
The combination of the hand-drawn world and the live orchestra start strong as Ki floats from the Kindlewheat and is reborn into the afterlife. I could not help but feel hopeful. As Ki looks around for the first time, I join her and take in the scene. We both notice a storm raging in the background, casting a shadow on an otherwise beautiful world.
Picking up the courage to move forward, I get used to the controls and meet The Keeper of the Kindlewheat. Ki listens intently as the storm rages, and The Keeper grants us the ability to use the Soulflame. Moving towards a portal to The Evergate, The Keeper explains that the Soulflame will help us in our journey to complete the circle of life. The Evergate will send Ki back to Earth, where she will live again. However, it is not that simple; the storm raging sends monsters forward that stop Ki in her tracks. The Evergate presents Ki with the opportunity to explore the memories of her Kindred spirit. She must discover the mystery behind the storm that threatens the afterlife.
The Soulflame is the main mechanic within this puzzle platformer. It is a beam allow Ki to interact with Crystals that she finds within the memories. By aiming the Soulflame through a crystal and ending on a white surface, she can activate the crystal. Each crystal offers a new form of interaction or movement that helps Ki reach the door at the end of each of the 85 puzzles.
The Soulflame is a double-ended blade, in that it is your movement tool but is limited to how you can use it. Not only must you be able to hit the crystal with the beam, but you must also align the beam with a white surface. Angles and timing become essential, but the game does not want the player to be frustrated, so it offers the player time. Every time that Ki channels her Soulflame, the game slows down until she releases it. You can, of course, turn this off. Through my experience, however, it is essential to beat the puzzles.
Being able to slow time down as you soar through the air can be the difference between missing your next jump and certain death. As I said, this is important to finishing the puzzles, but can sometimes break the flow of the game. But I was always too concerned with completing the puzzle, not looking awesome as I did so.
Evergate wants the player to experience the story. The aim is not to be the most challenging puzzle game. The difficulty is subjective as you can change how challenging or easy the game is, depending on your ability or preference. I chose to keep the game at its base settings, but you can change the game speed, turn off the slow down function or even make yourself invincible if you would like. The developers want you to enjoy Evergate how you want to, and that is fantastic as everyone can experience the incredible story the game presents.
Each memory that Ki visits is a chance for both you and Ki to learn new movement options. Introducing a crystal in every new book is how the game progresses. Each book will have you using the crystal almost religiously. You will learn each application and ways to manipulate it to your advantage. Slowly, the game will introduce older crystals so that you can experiment with each to form fantastic methods of movement. By the end of the game, you will be using each crystal as if you have been using them your entire life. Evergate does a fantastic job to teach you the application and limitations of each crystal.
Evergate does an impressive job merging the story and themes with the mechanics. Reincarnation, memories, and lessons are not only the themes of the game; they are also mechanics. Each time you die, you are physically reborn on the screen. One of the key anti-frustration tools that the game uses is the quick respawn or restart feature—allowing the player to see their error and learn from their mistake.
Each memory you visit includes new skills you can learn to take with you. Punishment is not what the game is looking for, it is not a puzzle platformer that is going to scold you every time you make a minuscule error. The puzzles may have multiple answers to them, meaning that the first time you complete the memory may be different to the second time. Through all 85 puzzles, the first few are a little linear, but once multiple crystals are available, it becomes up to the player how they get from A to B.
Even with the great gameplay, the game itself looks beautiful and sounds incredible. The hand-drawn world and live orchestra provide a captivating experience is the right kind of encouragement to get you through any challenging puzzles you encounter. Often, I caught myself staring into the background. I lost myself in the everchanging environment as giant seals swam through the world, thunder crashed all around the screen, and the northern lights danced as Ki watched.
After you reach the end of each level, the door you enter will form a bridge to the next story and honestly maybe my favourite transition within a game. Bridging each memory together reinforces how Evergate includes the theme and story within every aspect of the game—Ki’s story breathes life into the game, and the game breaths life back.
Evergate has something to offer to both Puzzle enthusiasts and Platformer pro’s, but it does not expect you to be amazing at either. It does hold your hand a little bit, but that is fine, it means everyone can experience this beautiful and emotional journey. Even if you want a challenging experience, you can always aim to complete all the speed running challenges or the additional books the game provides. I am not a great puzzler or platformer player, so I was happy to experience the story and enjoy the scenes, but the game truly has something for everyone.