At first we were very skeptical about Ever Oasis. Really very skeptical. But after spending thirty hours with what is probably one of the last pearls to arrive on the Nintendo 3DS in these ebbs of his life, we have changed our minds. Ever Oasis is worth every single penny of the ticket price, and sits on the border between two genres: management and RPG. Here's what we think
Ever Oasis is first a new IP of Nintendo, published exclusively on the devices of the 3DS family. Probably one of the last new IPs to peep into it, before retirement. At first glance it is somewhat reminiscent of Fantasy Life and Animal Crossing, for the design of the characters, mechanics and game situations. But in truth it is neither exactly one nor exactly the other, as we shall see. Behind the scenes of Ever Oasis is there Raw Team, which despite the name has produced excellent portable versions of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and then that of Majora's Mask in recent years.
If that's not enough, you should know that the CEO è Koichi Ishii, which only a few bad people will not know. Yes, it is that Kochi Ishii who directed the very first three Final Fantasy. The same one who basically imagined some of the most important themes of the Square Enix franchise, such as the legend of the crystals, and designed the moogles and chocobos. Above all, Ishii created the Seiken Densetsu saga, directing first Final Fantasy Adventure, then Secret of Mana and many others.
At the end of this long chain of important titles from the past peeps out Ever Oasis, Atypical RPG, full of management elements, which will not have who knows what graphics, will not vary the bases of traditional role playing, but manages to bring a minimum breath of fresh air into the summer heat.
The Thousand and One ... Oasis
The atmosphere from The Thousand and One Nights is immediately evoked, starting from the “Arab” climate that is breathed almost everywhere, then passing through the desert and exotic environments. And Ever Oasis really has the characteristics of a real fairy tale, even considering that the story begins with the archetype of "once upon a time". For the rest, of course, we cannot expect a plot of exemplary originality.
A long time ago, in a world that was still green and flourishing, the different races lived in an atmosphere of peace and prosperity, and they were naturally happy and content. Then, however, Chaos arrived, in the form of an entity capable of sowing death and destruction, transforming almost the whole world into an arid desert populated by evil creatures. Only a few places resisted the fury of evil, thanks to the magic of the wind and the strong bond between the spirits of the water and the incorruptible keepers of the seeds of the Great Tree.
Those places, these Oases, are all that remains of the world as it once was, and for hundreds of years they have provided a safe place for travelers. Travelers who, more often than not, after many trips and battles against monsters, then decided to settle there with their own shops, making it the center of their businesses. Coming in detail to the story of our protagonist, however, the oasis in which he has always lived together with his older brother (who among other things was the head, as well as keeper of the seed of the Big Tree) is attacked and destroyed by a creature of the Chaos.
Our brother, since all is now lost for our house, uses the powerful magic of the wind to make us escape death. Our alter ego is then welcomed by Esna, a Spirit of Water with whom he immediately makes friends, planting the seed of a new Oasis, destined to counter the advance of Chaos and provide refuge to travelers.
Ever Oasis: un po 'RPG, un po' Sim City
Ever Oasis rests its foundation on relationship established between the protagonist and the new Oasis he foundeda in the desert. The narration will also be carefree for most of the time, and suitable for players of all ages (even the smallest ones, up to a certain point), but this does not mean that we will not be able to "mature" in the company of the protagonist.
Establish an oasis, and we will soon learn this, it also means taking on a number of responsibilities, answer for its safety, for the well-being of your inhabitants (and for those who from time to time come to place their home or shop there) and also explore the dangers of the outside world which, we remember, is still inhabited by the hungry creatures of the Chaos.
At first our Oasis will be nothing more than a miserable green dot in the vastness of the desert, but with a little effort, things will change quickly. It is important to attract new inhabitants, to make our village attractive for external visitors. Safety from Chaos is not enough to make one of the many specific tribes in the game world decide to come and pitch their tents with us: as with any nascent civilization, it is important that there is an exchange of raw materials and a thriving market.
At this point the new characters will be tempted to pass into your Oasis and perhaps even to stay; this means that from then on you can select the new inhabitants as one of the three members of your game party, and take them with you on missions in the outside world.
Why yes, at some point you have to leave the Oasis, either to safeguard the village by eliminating nearby threats, or to find those damned raw materials that are needed so that the new shop of that specific character can open its doors. We can set up an exploration party by choosing from all the inhabitants of the Oasis. Each is equipped with special equipment and skills (useful in the battle phase), as well as specializations that are fundamental for the collection of materials and the resolution of the environmental puzzles that dot the various dungeons.
For example, there are those who specialize in excavation; who can shatter large boulders; who, again, can literally roll into the cracks in the walls to reach otherwise inaccessible places and so on. Each inhabitant has its own utility in the game economy and, even if the party is limited to three active members at a time, it is always possible to return to the Oasis with the many teleportation points to change its composition and use the companions we need to reach secret places, to recover some particular material, or to beat a more difficult boss than usual.
Technically speaking, Ever Oasis almost pushes the possibilities of Nintendo 3DS to the max. It is still a console that has been on the market for 7 years now, and that sooner or later (but more then than sooner) will also be forced to retire. The fact remains that we can enjoy a really noteworthy artistic sector, delicately curated and created scenarios, and a sound sector that is certainly not memorable but that manages not to bore neither during the exploratory phases nor in the management ones of the Oasis-HUB.8 Noteworthy
Points in favor
- Interesting plot
- Well-balanced mechanics
- Charismatic game world
- No online multiplayer
- Technically limited