Ever Oasis (3DS)
Ever Oasis is a new Nintendo IP developed by Grezzo who handled the remakes of Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask on the 3DS. This fact shows in one half of the game, because dungeons in Ever Oasis are very reminiscent of these Zelda games as combat and puzzles take turns frequently. The other half consists of building up and managing an oasis which requires plenty of resource gathering and exploration to increase your population.
The combat is a basic action-RPG that uses two buttons for simple combos. Enemies are categorized in seven distinct groups, each weapon type is effective against one or two of them, but also ineffective against another one or two. Since equipment cannot be changed in the field, the party of three should be balanced. While your avatar is always locked into the group, the remaining two members can be anyone of ultimately 60 playable characters. New combos and special moves are learned with level ups, but the combat is first and foremost about dodging and getting hits in during an opening, and that's fine. You can cycle between your party members on the fly to control the most effective one, because the AI does not provide the efficiency of a human player. Aside from some level design confusing the AI, the CPU-controlled partners do a solid job though.
The inhabitants of your oasis commonly want you to do quests and they also tell you about rumors that could make more people join. There is always something to do in the about two dozen of caves and several dungeons. But it's also inside the oasis where a lot of things happen while you are on an expedition. Many stores get opened and they constantly need resources to create their goods, part of the revenue goes into your wallet and the money is used to build new stores as well as for forging improved equipment. There is also a garden where seeds can be planted and trees spend new fruits and nuts every day. While all of these routine tasks have to be done manually in the beginning, every time they begin to feel repetitive, the game surprises you with new options to turn them into automated processes. After a while you don't have to visit stores to deliver supplies, you can assign your townsfolk to work in the garden, you can send otherwise idle fighters on expeditions in previously visited areas to gather resources from monsters or plants.
The main quest of Ever Oasis is highly motivating, because the individual gameplay elements work great together. It's also meaty, so you get your money's worth from it alone. It's only after you've seen the credits that tedium starts to set in. Increases in the level of your oasis hardly do anything of note anymore, the quests become repetitive because you get sent to places you've been numerous times before, the optional dungeons feature randomness in their rooms' contents and are supposed to be played repeatedly, and the in-game achievement list has some very lofty targets. The game's world suddenly feels very small whereas it felt so vast before the story concluded.
One annoyance in the game's design I want to point out is the implementation of resource gathering skills, namely mining and digging. Since the avatar does not have them and these skills are rarely available among other characters, you are quite limited in good choices for a party. The same holds true for skills that are used for environmental puzzles. Ever Oasis allows you to create a temporary quick travel point anywhere, but instead of going back and forth between oasis and current location, all of these things could have been better implemented to skip this travel process that comes across like a band-aid for a stubborn developer decision. Being unable to change your weapon during expedition falls into the same category.
|Controls||10||An intuitive control scheme that is supported with several
touch screen buttons for various menus.
|Gameplay||Build up an oasis, gather and manage resources,
solve quests and raid dungeons and caves.
|Story||The plot is standard fare. The sheer volume of playable
characters makes it hard for anyone to be memorable.
|Single-player||Management of the oasis becomes more convenient as time
goes on. The gameplay mix motivates to keep going.
|Graphics||A pleasant scope for a 3DS title. Occasional framerate
drops in some battles against several enemies.
|Sound||An alright soundtrack without any particular themes that
stand out. Satisfying sound effects.
|Value||About 30 hours for the main quest, at least 20 hours
for postgame activities, potentially much more.
|Replay Value||Not many different choices you could make on an additional
playthrough. Postgame is notably worse than main quest.
|Score||7||Ever Oasis combines known elements and adds its own twist,
but fumbles the postgame content.