Ever since I was a kid I have always been a fan of quirky games that tried something new. When I first saw Everhood it really stood out to me for this reason. While I am generally not the biggest fan of rhythm games, there was just something about Everhood that really appealed to me. The game reminded me a lot of games like Undertale and Earthbound which are the type of games that I generally love playing. Everhood can be really difficult at times and takes some time to get going, but it is a genuinely unique take on rhythm games that is also a blast to play.
In Everhood you play as a wooden doll. As your character wakes up you discover that your arm has been stolen by a blue gnome that has run off into the woods. In the search for your missing arm, you run into the quirky inhabitants of the area as they help you along your journey. As you make progress in your journey you may find out that everything might not be as it first appears.
If I were to describe the main gameplay of Everhood, I would say that it kind of feels like a reverse rhythm game. Let me explain further. Throughout the game you will enter various “battles”. In most of these battles you will be positioned at the bottom of five lanes which you can switch between at will. Music will start playing and notes will fly towards the bottom of the screen. In a normal rhythm game you would have to press the corresponding buttons in time in order to score points. In Everhood these notes are dangerous. Each note that hits you will deal damage. Depending on the difficulty you choose, you will heal lost health after a period of time if you don’t incur additional damage. To avoid the notes you can dodge between lanes quickly or you can jump into the air which is a little more delayed. If you are able to survive through the entire song you are able to progress. If you fail you will have to restart the song from the beginning or at a checkpoint you reached in the song.
I honestly have never had strong feelings towards the rhythm genre of games. I like rhythm games, but I also wouldn’t consider it to be one of my favorites. There might be some other games with a similar premise, but I can’t recall ever playing a game quite like Everhood. It shares elements from a game like Undertale and some other rhythm games, but it feels unique as well. Honestly the gameplay kind of feels like a dance of sorts where you have to move/jump around the notes in order to avoid them. This is all based around the music so it still feels like you are playing a rhythm game.
It is kind of hard to describe what it is like playing Everhood, but it is just fun to play. There is something really satisfying about the gameplay as you slide back and forth while narrowly dodging notes. The game never really lets up as the songs are fast paced forcing you to be constantly moving. The music in particular really drives the gameplay. I found Everhood’s music to be fantastic both from a gameplay and listening perspective. The music translates to fun and challenging gameplay. I could also easily see myself listening to the game’s soundtrack outside of playing the game.
Other than the rhythm based gameplay, the rest of the game is pretty much your typical adventure game. You move around the world interacting with other characters and picking up objects in order to proceed in your journey. These elements of the game are pretty typical to your traditional 2D RPG. There is nothing wrong with these elements, they just aren’t as exciting as the rhythm based battles.
One of the things that initially intrigued me about Everhood is that it honestly reminded me a lot of quirky RPGs like Undertale, Earthbound, etc. Between the characters, world, and overall feel of the game, it felt like it took inspiration from those games. The characters in particular really stood out in my opinion. The game generally deserves a lot of credit for the atmosphere as the game is quirky but interesting. The graphical style is pixel art, but I thought it looked really nice. Some of the battles in particular feel like you are in a trippy dance hall full of lights. Honestly I thought the worst part about the game’s atmosphere was the story itself. The story just starts a little slow as a bunch of random stuff happens. I wouldn’t say that the story is bad, but it does require a bit of your own interpretation, at least at first, to know what is going on.
On the topic of the game’s story, there is something that I wanted to quickly bring up about Everhood. When I review a game I generally try to avoid spoilers. This isn’t really a spoiler, but I will say that at around the halfway point there is a pretty drastic change in the game. I won’t get into specifics to avoid spoilers, but it has a pretty big impact on both the story and the gameplay. The main gameplay is the same, but it adds another little twist that turns the combat in a new direction. I thought it was a good addition, but it does make the battles more difficult in my opinion. As for the story this is the point where things start to come together where it no longer feels like a bunch of random events. I really don’t want to go into anymore specifics, but I thought the twist was really interesting as just as you think the game is going to end, the game is basically just beginning.
So I am going to preface this by saying that I am far from an expert at the rhythm genre of video games. I wouldn’t say that I am terrible at the genre as I usually play them at the normal difficulty. That said Everhood can be quite difficult at times. The game does feature five different difficulty levels with the recommended difficulty being hard (the fourth highest). I tried the game at that level and quickly had to switch to normal mode (third highest) as it would have took me forever to make progress at the hard level. At the normal level I would say that the difficulty can be pretty up and down. Some songs I was able to complete in a couple attempts. Even at the normal difficulty there was still some songs that took a lot of attempts before I was able to beat them. As you progress in the game the difficulty seems to ratchet up even further.
I see the difficulty being a negative for some people and a positive for others. I honestly found some of the songs to be kind of frustrating. To have any chance of beating some of the songs you need to be willing to die quite a few times as you familiarize yourself with it. The heal function really helps at times as you just need to survive long enough through the difficult parts until you can get a heal. If you easily get frustrated by difficult games though you may be turned off by Everhood. I think the opposite will hold true for players that want a real challenge though. I honestly had trouble with the normal difficulty at times and there are two difficulty levels even higher. If you really want a challenge, the game is likely to give you what you want.
As for Everhood’s length, I think it is going to have a direct correlation to the difficulty you choose and how easily you make it through the songs. The developers say that the game should take around 5-6 hours to beat. For some players I think that will be accurate. If you have any troubles with the game though, it could definitely take longer. I haven’t quite finished the game yet and I am currently around that point. If you are really good at these type of games or choose to play on one of the easier difficulty levels, I could see the game taking a little less time. If you really challenge yourself though, I think the game could take quite a bit longer.
Everhood is not quite a perfect game, but I enjoyed my time playing it. The best way to describe the main gameplay is probably to say that it plays like a reverse rhythm game. Instead of pushing the buttons corresponding to the notes, you need to try and avoid the notes altogether. I am not the biggest rhythm game fan, but I found this to be really interesting. The gameplay is really quick, challenging, and just a lot of fun overall. It doesn’t hurt that the game’s music is great as well. Otherwise Everhood does a pretty good job with its overall atmosphere as it creates an interesting world filled with quirky characters. The story does start a little slow though. Probably the game’s biggest issue is just that it can be quite difficult at times. This leads to the game becoming a little frustrating at times especially if you aren’t an expert at rhythm games.
My recommendation for Everhood mostly depends on your opinion of the game’s premise. If you don’t really care for rhythm games and just don’t think the game sounds all that interesting, it probably won’t be for you. Fans of interesting tweaks to rhythm games and quirky games in general will likely really enjoy Everhood and should consider picking it up.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Chris Nordgren, Jordi Roca, Foreign Gnomes, and Surefire.Games for the review copy of Everhood used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.