“Ever Oasis” is developer Grezzo’s first deviation from a long line of Zelda releases and remakes in a while, and whilst that ever-present influence can be felt at times in their new title it doesn’t stop it from being a wholly original and enjoyable game.
Ever Oasis casts you in the role of a Seedling, a cute race that inhabit, protect and nurture the world’s multiple oasis. But in the barren desert world, these oasis are slowly being destroyed by a generic evil simply named ‘Chaos’. After a quick introduction and tutorial, you’re thrust into the role of an oasis protector – the last remaining oasis in the world, in fact – and are tasked with turning it into a stronghold against Chaos.
You do this by luring wandering travellers in and getting them to set up shop and form an economy (that all feeds back to you, conveniently) whilst you’re off in the dangerous desert adventuring and dungeoneering. The more varied and multicultured your hometown becomes, the stronger it grows and the stronger your party becomes, directly affecting your ability to interact with objects in dungeons and the kind of goodies you can craft.
Much like Viva Pinata – one of my favourites, by the way – you get people to stay in your Oasis by fulfilling their own personal criteria. Having certain shops already set up in your town, offering them particular items, or even growing them unique fruit in your garden. Often, story-centric NPCs will be found in dungeons and will join thanks to you saving them, but for the majority of your inhabitants you’ll have to work hard to prove your town is worth their patronage. It’s a good system that is never extended as far as I wanted it to be, in so much as you’ll never have to really shake the foundations of what your Oasis is to get one super rare resident to stay, but it works just fine.
Outside of this simple city-building aspect is the game’s questing outside the walls. You can trot off with a party composed of particular residents into the wastes to grab new loot, find new NPCs and explore dungeons. The gameplay of this mechanic is equally simple, with fights against Chaos-infused critters quickly devolving into dodging at the right time and responding in kind with a flurry of attacks. The dungeons have some puzzles to overcome, and these are signposted with elements that only certain races can interact with, meaning you’ll have to make sure you bring the right allies to the right dungeons. You can always warp back and change them on the fly, however. That the game allows you to do this makes me wonder why you couldn’t just skip a step and switch your party when you’re out and about – ‘call for backup’ or something similar – as it just adds a slight annoyance when you encounter a puzzle you can’t overcome with your current set up.
- 1 2