Last March, Chinese developer Pathea Games posted a blog entry on the development of their upcoming puzzle game Ever Forward. They highlighted how the game was first conceived and how it grew to what we see now, a narrative-driven puzzle adventure.
Now, the team is gearing up to release a demo that features almost half of the final product, and I was pretty excited to try it out. One thing is for sure, after three hours with Ever Forward, these developers prove they know how to create some challenging puzzles that look appear incredibly simple at a glance.
Ever Forward focuses heavily on its narrative through memories of a girl named Maya. Evidently, Maya has found herself lost in a strange world somewhere between reality and imagination, and she is faced with making her way through it. If that wasn’t enough, there are also post-apocalyptic themes detailed through these memories.
Players are able to run around a map as they make their way to key points that whisk them away to a strange dimension of puzzles. Accompanying Maya is a strange cube, which allows her to fly to different sections of the map. Puzzles are displayed by red platforms, which are revealed once Maya interacts with it.
Puzzles appear to be simplistic as they typically feature a guard enemy type and a few objects. However, you’ll quickly discover how clever these developers are when you are left staring at a puzzle for 30 minutes. Maya dies in one hit, but she can use the environment to her advantage. Throwing cubes or pressing buttons are each in her wheelhouse to distract enemies away from her.
These puzzles are definitely skewed towards fans of the genre, but there’s a liberal save feature that allows you to save pretty much wherever you want so you can try a few different approaches. I also found out that puzzles can be solved in multiple ways, which I noticed only after doing some puzzles the hard way and discovering a tactic later on that would have worked on an early puzzle.
Graphics are decent, but they definitely have an indie look to them. The cutscenes were also nice, but the subtitles didn’t stay on the screen long enough to read what was going on. One issue I had with the game is the controller support, which could use some fine-tuning since some of the actions, such as flying, didn’t seem to work.
Ever Forward is going to test your skills, but the pay off is a unique narrative with some dark themes that motivate the player to get through each challenge. Puzzle puts your skills to the test, but the developer makes failing not so noticeable as the respawn time is instantaneous. I’m definitely looking forward to being frustrated with late-game puzzles when the game officially launches.
Ever Forward has planned release date for June 2020 on PC-via Steam. A Free Demo is available now.
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