Every so often a video game comes along that really embraces the mantra that ‘games are art’, offering something that feels less like your traditional gaming experience and is more unique than anything you’d have ever played before. Everything is one of those games.
It’s incredibly difficult to describe Everything as there’s nothing quite like it out there. It’s essentially a universe simulator where you have full control over each and every object to be found. Seriously, the game lives up to its title since you literally have control over EVERYTHING. You’ll be taking control of a wide selection of wildlife, plants, the land itself, the planet, the solar system, the galaxy… you get the picture. This works through ‘ascents’ and ‘descents’, where you slowly zoom in and out of the world and take control of objects that are bigger or smaller than you. It’s incredibly impressive to witness, with the sheer scale on offer unlike anything you would’ve seen in any other video game.
When you take over an object you’re able to move around freely and explore how you please, though there are a few mechanics that allow you to vary up the experience a bit. Take the ‘singing’ ability for example, that lures anything that is the same species as you and groups them together in one unit. From there you’re able to take your horde of creatures and stampede across the wild lands, slowly expanding your troupe along the way as you discover more and more of the same creatures. Everything understands the concept of creating life too, though its PG approach sees creatures ‘dancing’ in order to create new life. You’ve really got full control of how everything within the universe plays out – it’s like ‘The Sims’, but instead of taking place within a household it spans across the entirety of existence.
Whilst exploring the universe, you’ll come across a selection of little speech bubbles that either act as a tutorial to the game’s mechanics or offer an outlook into the inner thoughts of each and every controllable object in the game. You’ll also occasionally find sound clips from lectures given by famed philosopher Alan Watts as he discusses the philosophy of life – whilst I’ll admit that these clips might make more sense to better educated folk than I, for the most part they fitted in perfectly within the fabric of the strange tasks I was performing. After all, what’s more fitting than a philosopher speaking about the universe and how everything is interconnected when playing a video game that allows you to take control of everything he speaks of?
Everything’s main problems lie in the fact that there isn’t a whole lot to do, with actual objectives few and far between. You can take control of anything you desire and can explore as far out or as far into the universe as you please, but after toying around with these mechanics for a short while you’ll begin to run short of things to do. It’s a shame that such an expansive world is filled with so little purpose – don’t get me wrong, there’s an abundance of things to see and collect, but no actual reason to do so outside of your own satisfaction.
Completionists who love to uncover everything a video game has to offer will be in heaven though, with Everything featuring hundreds upon hundreds of things to discover that’ll see you scouring each and every corner of the ever expanding universe – I’ve spent a ton of hours with the game and my catalogue is nowhere near completion yet. There’re endless hours on offer if your plan is to complete this catalogue, whilst the sense of discovery it offers will certainly entice a particular type of gamer. Whether it’s insects, wildlife, planets, or even the foundations of the universe itself, there really is a lot to see within Everything.
Everything’s aesthetic is a simple one with most objects’ animations resorting to basic movements or a simple flip of the object over a 360 degree motion. It’s incredibly simplistic and any sense of actual realism is absent, but it all seems to fit in with the bizarre nature of the game. Each and every object looks decent enough though, with Everything constantly offering a decent representation of all of its object’s real-life counterparts. Whilst it doesn’t look breath taking visually, the sheer scale of things is so awe inspiring that you won’t really care – for a game of such a huge scale the art design and fact it flows together so seamlessly is incredibly impressive.
At its very core, Everything almost feels like the antithesis of a video game; sure, you’ve got the full freedom to interact with this colossal universe that seems to reinvent itself over and over, but it’s hard to find a purpose to anything that you’re doing. Whilst the lack of a real objective saw the game’s allure wearing thing on me after a few hours, actually seeing this universe and how expansive the interactive freedom offered to the player is was INCREDIBLY impressive and worth the admission price alone.
Unless you’re seriously into collecting everything in a video game there won’t be much in Everything that’ll interest you for the long term, but those impressive opening hours alone make it worth checking out. With a fairly low price-point and considering the fact that there’s nothing else out there quite like it, I’d definitely recommend trying Everything just to experience how unique a creation it is.
Developer: David OReilly
Publisher: Double Fine
Release Date: 21/03/2017
Format(s): Playstation 4 (Reviewed), PC, Mac