Sometimes, if a freeware game gets really popular and a lot of recognition, it gets a retail release. For example, Alien Hominid is still available on Newgrounds, but it has been ported and released with upgraded visuals and extra content on modern consoles. A more recent example is Super House of Dead Ninjas, which was originally a Flash game on Adult Swim Games, but now has a retail release on Steam. We’ll be taking a look at that soon enough, but this week I think it’s time we talk about something that’s a little more obscure and was recently a part of Steam’s Linux sale. This week we look at the super cheery platformer, Eversion.
Now you might remember Eversion from MegaGWolf’s Halloween video but let me assure you, Eversion isn’t scary at all. It’s a simple platformer where you run around as a cute little flower-person named Zee Tee, who jumps on enemies and collects jewels as he completes levels so he can rescue his beloved princess Nehema. The game controls well, whether you use the keyboard or a game pad and, since you need only one button in addition to a D-pad or analog stick, you can use almost any type of controller. The platforming also takes a page from games like Super Mario Bros. by making it so pressing the jump button (default is the ‘up’ arrow) when you jump on enemies will propel you up higher than you would normally be able to get.
However, the big innovation Eversion brings to the table is Zee Tee’s ability to ‘Evert’ levels: an ability which allows him to travel to a different layer of the world he is in. The basic layout of the level is still the same, but certain aspects will have changed. For instance, layer two allows you to walk on clouds and enemies will start to look worried. As you pull back the layers (up to eight if you collect all of the jewels), former obstacles will disappear as new ones arise and even the enemies will undergo some changes. Each layer is distinct and has its own music and visual style, so by the end of the game, when you’ll start levels on later layers, you’ll be able to recognize them on sight and know what abilities they give you.
Overall, this creates an interesting, puzzle-platforming experience, though there are a couple of flaws. First, you can only evert a level at certain points and, in the freeware version, it’s not readily obvious where these points are; the only clue you get is a music change and a slight change in the level’s color. In the early levels, this isn’t a problem, as there are only a couple of eversion points and they are usually put in places that you’ll have to go to, but later levels have multiple eversion points and they are hidden in inconspicuous locations. This wouldn’t be too bad, but each point only lets you shift between one set of layers, meaning that you’ll need to remember where multiple points are. To be fair, this only becomes a problem in a couple of levels but when it does become a problem, it can be excruciating.
Additionally, the final level is straight-up unfair, with a couple of sections that you can force you to restart the entire level. This is a shame, since the level is actually a pretty excellent test of the skills you’ve developed up to that point. Of course, reaching the final level is a feat in itself, though that’s a far more understandable and rewarding challenge, as it requires you to fully understand the eversion mechanic, as well as find all of the jewels in the game.
Overall though, even with these problems, I recommend Eversion. The game is fairly short if you just want to beat it, since there are only eight levels, but it’s easy to dump in plenty of time if you want to unlock both endings (three if you get the steam version). The game is also very forgiving outside of the final level, with it giving you unlimited lives, and automatically recording all jewels you collect, even if you fail a level. The game also has a nice aesthetic, capturing an 8-bit style that reminded me of a game that might show up on the Sega Master System, and the different music used for each layer perfectly captures the feeling of each visual style, as well as give a growing feeling of dread as you tear through the game’s different layers.
Yeah… while it would be tempting to spring the horror aspects of the game on you (something I highly recommend you do to your friends if they haven’t heard of Eversion), that would be assuming that you didn’t know about Eversion’s reputation as a scary game. While spoiling the specifics would be a crime, I’ll just say that there’s a danger to peeling back the fabric of reality and this game has plenty of twists and dangers that will leave you on the edge. If for no other reason, you should play Eversion just to experience the tonal shift this game takes in the second half.
The freeware version can be found HERE.
Now, like I said, the developer, Zaratustra Productions, made a retail version that is available on Steam. While the retail version has the same gameplay and layout, it has a number of new features, including improved visuals, backgrounds,a time attack mode, more things to collect, a new ending, and, most importantly, a new feature which makes nearby eversion points appear when you press the evert button. This version is the definitive edition of Eversion, so if you have some cash to spare, it’s definitely worth a play.