Everhood Review – An Experimental Rhythm RPG

Everhood Review – An Experimental Rhythm RPG

Indie RPGs can have a ton of interesting ideas to work on. While the market may usually gravitate towards fantasy cliches, it’s not uncommon to see weird and unique concepts. Everhood is one of those quirky RPGs.

Everhood tells the story of Red, a puppet who wakes up in a world that can only be described as psychedelic. To retrieve his arms, he’ll have to explore multiple areas. However, this is but the start of his journey.

One interesting aspect of the adventure is its dreamlike universe. The characters, for instance, feel more like they might be playing roles, showing up at multiple places for different reasons. It also feels a little nonsensical at times.

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The story isn’t exactly its best asset, with many text mistakes, but I found this dream ambiance interesting and unusual. It offers a few layers the player may be compelled to analyze, and it sometimes feels like borderline creepypasta material while still not quite diving into horror.

On the visual side, the environments are dark but filled with colorful imagery and occasional effects distort it. This is especially true during combat, which offers experimental rhythm-based combat.

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The concept of the battles is facing opponents whose attacks are tied to the music. You have a horizontal grid with five tiles to step on, allowing you to avoid being hit. If you want a simple comparison, it’s like Guitar Hero, but you mostly try to evade instead of hitting the notes.

Initially, the player has only the ability to move to the sides and jump. Depending on the patterns, it may be better to do one or the other. The notes may have three shapes: crescent, crescent + a vertical rectangle, and line.

Understanding the patterns is key to success. At first, it may be easy to find holes in the patterns and move just a little, but as the battles progress, it consistently presents interesting attacks to oppose. This means that even at the endgame, it feels varied and unique.

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Another important aspect is that consistently evading the patterns allows the player to recover HP lost at a fumble. There are no healing items, leaving the player to learn how to exploit that to survive.

It’s during the battles that the game shows some of its most experimental visual aspects. Psychedelic imagery, tilting the whole board in which battles happen, and noise effects are a few examples of what the game throws at you. It even distorts the player’s vision to make it harder to gauge distance during some battles.

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For inexperienced players or those who want a little more challenge, it’s possible to change difficulty at any time. This includes right after losing a battle, as the game always offers a chance to alter the settings before continuing.

Unlike usual rhythm games, picking easier options doesn’t change the patterns. Its effects are reducing the damage taken and speeding up the HP recovery. This may not be enough for some players to be able to deal with the game. As I changed them during my time playing, I felt little difference between the easiest and hardest ones.

Also, it’s important to note that the game has no experience/level system. Though it’s tagged as an RPG and has features like transitions to battle landscapes, it may not be one, depending on your definition. Nonetheless, what’s important is that there are no builds, random battles, or any system to upgrade your character through experience.

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Battles aren’t the only thing to the gameplay, though. Besides questing for a few key items, the player can also enjoy kart racing and some other areas that play differently. One of those includes avoiding various traps while the other ends in a battle unrestricted by the usual board as the player try not to get hit by a scientist’s latest weapon.

Besides the psychedelic imagery, the dreamlike ambiance, and its experimental battle gameplay, the game also offers great music. This is particularly important for the rhythm-focused battles, and the various music used there are one of its main attractions.

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Overall, if I had to describe Everhood in a single word, it’d be “experiment.” It’s a game that tests interesting concepts to become its own thing. Combining adventure with RPG-Esque mechanics and an enjoyable take on rhythm combat that offers a unique experience for any looking for something new.

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