I’ve always been a fan of a shadow drop following a video game event, so seeing Evergate release straight after its showing during Nintendo’s recent indie game showcase was a nice surprise. I hadn’t even heard of the game before the showcase, but it immediately caught my eye thanks to its clever puzzle-platforming gameplay mechanics and its delightful looking world.
Well, after playing through the game, it has actually exceeded my expectations completely. Whilst I knew Evergate was going to be fun to play, I didn’t expect it to stand out as one of my favourite indie releases on the Nintendo Switch the year.
Evergate sees players take control of Ki, a spirit that was looking to travel her way through the afterlife and towards reincarnation. However, some strange entities appear following the emergence of mysterious storm and prevent Ki from striving forwards, forcing her to visit an array of memories in order to find her way to peace. Unravelling each memory and the tale behind them is the key to her progress, with plenty of lessons to be learnt about the ordeals of life along the way.
At first glance, it’d probably be easy to dismiss Evergate as yet another run of the mill puzzle-platformer, albeit with some super pretty visuals to look at. However, there’s a unique dynamic in place that strings together progression through each level in a clever and satisfying manner: the Soulflame. The Soulflame can be activated with a press of the shoulder button, which briefly slows down time and gives you the chance to aim it at one of the many crystals scattered across each level. Activating one of these crystals offers a variety of different effects, with the first being the ability to launch Ki across the environment based upon the trajectory that you struck the crystal at. Be warned though: you can’t just strike each crystal without a care in the world, but actually have to make sure that your Soulflame also connects to one of the magically-enhanced surfaces when aiming, meaning you’ve got to time your shots carefully and with complete accuracy if you want to take advantage of each crystal’s effect.
It might sound a little complicated there, but it actually feels incredibly intuitive in-game and is easy to get to grips with. The goal of each level is to simply make your way to the exit, though some optional objectives (that reward you with a collectible known as Essence) will require some clever use of both your Soulflame and your surroundings to complete along the way.
What really plays to Evergate’s strengths is the way that it constantly introduces new ideas and gameplay mechanics to keep players on their toes. Whilst the crystals might start off by simply propelling you through levels, they’ll soon help form platforms, teleport you across the map, blast out projectiles, and open all-new pathways, just to name a few. There are different obstacles and hazards to face across each world in the game too, which all add variety to the adventure and ensure you’re never doing the same thing for too long. It’s worth mentioning that it can all be pretty challenging when everything comes together, especially when you have to string together Soulflame blasts between crystals in succession – this requires both swift reactions and quick thinking, which makes for some really exhilarating scenarios during some levels.
What helps make all of this so damn fun is the ingenious level design, with each level you progress through creatively and cleverly structured to allow for flexibility in your approach. Don’t get me wrong, the puzzling elements of the game ensure that there is typically one straight-forward solution in order to complete a level, but there’s plenty of room for experimentation and playing around to try and figure out the way to unravel each tricky conundrum. Believe me, it’s SUPER satisfying, whilst it also ties into the game’s optional objectives which challenge you to approach levels in different ways. I got completely addicted to playing around with the game mechanics and trying to figure out the many ways to clear these and I had a blast doing so.
With ten beautiful hand-drawn worlds to play through that each offer an array of different levels, there really is plenty to admire in Evergate – they all look and play great on both the Nintendo Switch’s handheld and docked modes too, so you’re guaranteed a smooth and attractive experience whichever way you decide to play. Each brings with them different artefacts to unlock too, which offer various boosts to Ki that’ll help her progress through the ever-changing challenges that come your way; you’ll need Essence to get these though, so you’ll want to clear those aforementioned optional objectives if you want to grab them all. There are bonus levels to encounter along the way too, with Evergate offering plenty to keep players hooked in for some time. What more could you ask for from a puzzle-platformer?
Evergate is a delightful platforming surprise, with its cleverly designed levels complimented by some fantastic puzzling mechanics. I hadn’t even heard of the game before it was revealed at Nintendo’s indie showcase, but it has quickly become one of my favourite puzzle-platformers on the Nintendo Switch.
With its diverse gameplay mechanics, its elegant world, and its challengingly satisfying and flexible level-design that constantly keeps you coming back for more, there really is a lot to love about Evergate’s enchanting adventure.
Developer: Stone Lantern Games
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PC