Is it possible to have too much choice? We have all experienced the dilemma of choosing a difficulty level when starting a new game, but Even The Ocean hurls so many options at you before you begin this platformer cum adventure that you may think you’re the programmer. It’s quite refreshing, however, to see a game offer so many customisable tweaks. You can turn off screen shakes, add helper blocks to allow easier navigation in the platform sections, or even opt for “No Dying” and have your character benefit from invulnerability during critical moments.
The main choice, however, is: What type of game would you like to play? Full Game Mode requires that you play the game in its entirety; a story filled with emotional drama, political intrigue, and the practicalities of working as a technician making power plant repairs. The events unfold in gameplay elements that draw from various genres: visual novel, RPG, and 2D platformer.
If you opt for Story Mode, the game skips the platforming sections (navigating the power plants to make those repairs) to focus instead on the story. Conversely, Gauntlet Mode bins the story elements for a pure focus on the platforming challenges, and – for speedrunners – there are a lot of options to tinker with the structure.
When a game draws from different genres, the result can be hit and miss. But Even The Ocean manages to mould a charming – and very quirky – adventure. The technician under your control is named Aliph, a new recruit on her first call to make repairs with a colleague. An incident, however, leaves her alone, and the implications from that event spiral to form the backbone of the story. This is a game with a political voice, and the tale is handled with effective dialogue and absorbing characters.
The platform puzzle sections comprise of tight controls, although the pieces in play can be a little unusual. There are blasts of air to thrust you upwards, walls that can be climbed unless they are coated in smooth glass, and bubbles which offer protection from dangerous gas and lasers. These random elements reminded me of the abstract puzzle nature of the retro puzzle classic Chip’s Challenge.
The most important consideration in these more action-oriented moments is Aliph’s energy alignment. A horizontal bar on-screen visualises her affinity with Light and Dark energy. Here the colours purple and green come into play, in their most important role since Splatoon. Each time Aliph touches something of either energy alignment (colour-coded for convenience) the bar adjusts accordingly. If the bar becomes completely Dark or Light, she dies. It’s a clever puzzle element that also influences her movement, as Aliph can move faster horizontally when she has a strong Dark alignment, and can jump further when her alignment is heavily Light influenced.
Overall, the platform sections aren’t too taxing, and are generously dotted with save points. When you are not navigating the power plants, there is an overworld to explore, reminiscent of Final Fantasy or the Persona series. It is not always apparent which way you should head, and freedom is initially limited, but there are plenty of characters to meet. The game is best thought of as “RPG-Lite” in execution.
Even The Ocean is one of many games on the eShop to flaunt a pixel art style, and the gameplay is occasionally a little rough around the edges but full of imagination. The story triumphs in offering a satisfying conclusion and is perhaps the game’s greatest strength.
Even The Ocean Review £14.99
Even The Ocean fuses platform, puzzle and adventure elements with an intriguing story framed in a visual novel. The more of these genres you enjoy, the more fulfilment you will gain from this thought-provoking tale.