Ever Forward, developed by Pathea Games, known for My Time at Portia and Super Buckyball Tournament, focuses on a young girl named Maya. Due to certain events, which become clear later in the game, Maya has become lost on the edge of dreams and reality, and is desperately trying to find her way back. In doing so, she recovers various memories of moments leading up to these events, and these memories are definitely gripping and heart-wrenching.
The focus of Ever Forward is the relationship between mother and daughter. Maya is constantly vying for her mother’s attention, as her mother becomes more and more engrossed in her work. This becomes a real struggle for Maya, as she slowly by slowly gets pushed aside more readily by her mother.
This story is simple, but executed fantastically! It is portrayed not only through dialogue, but through detailed imagery and Maya’s reactions to the world around her. Every interaction was made with purpose and I could not stop myself from feeling sorry for Maya and all that she has to endure.
At the heart of it, Ever Forward is a basic puzzle platformer, but the puzzles themselves are anything but basic. They require stealth to complete successfully as well as a good understanding of timing. Making the most of each opportune moment is vital. With simple run, jump and interact mechanics, you control Maya and attempt to sneak around the various security bots posted around to insert a cube at the end of the stage. Getting past these security bots requires a lot of outside the box thinking, and doing so successfully feels very rewarding.
The developers have implemented an instant checkpoint system, which can be used to either recall Maya to that spot, or return to it upon being caught by the bots or after falling off the stage. This checkpoint system also saves every object in the position it is in at that moment, so when you return to it, everything will reset to that save point with you.
One area that was really lacking was the jumping mechanic. It felt very stiff and more often than not made crossing areas where Maya was required to leap over a gap or untouchable surface much more difficult than necessary. However, I do also recognise that we are playing as a young girl, so we probably shouldn’t have expected a Crash Bandicoot style jump anyway.
The art style is definitely one of the biggest draw cards for Ever Forward. The developers used a simpler texture design, with most of the world being cell shaded rather than using photorealism, and it looks really beautiful. From the opening scene, which shows Maya running down to the seaside and into the water, right through to the end of the game, the vibrant colours and textures never cease to charm and amaze. The large colour palette on the island is truly a sight to behold.
In the puzzle platform sections, the overall tone changes completely, instead of a beautiful world filled with diverse colours, instead it becomes darker, with mostly grey tones, which really emphasise how daunting this part of the world is for Maya.
The music in this game is also brilliant. The score used on the island uses mostly solo piano motifs to create a sense of wonder and to encourage exploration, whereas the puzzle solving areas have darker more mellow sounding strings and synths with some soft piano sprinkled in also. The music really helps to emphasise the change of environment, as well as the change in Maya’s emotions. From feeling safer in her exploration of the island to having a sense of feeling lost in the puzzles, the music really does help to create a stunning, but also tense atmosphere.
Whilst Ever Forward is definitely a unique experience that has an interesting narrative to it, the fact that the playtime is only about 3 hours, can make it seem a bit unappealing to some players. Overall, the game is a very enjoyable one and definitely worth the small time investment, if you don’t mind the $20 price tag.
Reviewed by Samuel Incze
This game was reviewed using a download code provided by Pathea Game Studio. The Beta Network uses affiliate partnerships, however this does not influence reviews or any other content published. The Beta Network may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links that are on the website.
Check out our video review of Ever Forward to see more of the breathtaking art style