I like quirky.
Wait, didn't I just start a review with that phrase a couple of
Perhaps I can pass this repetition off the way they do in school.
If I browbeat you into understanding the phrase, perhaps it will
have the right impact. But
, you say, I already understand!
You like quirky! Why are you wasting my time with this crap?
To which I can only say: You must be at the wrong website, bub, if
you're looking for content that doesn't waste your time.
is quirky. (Shocked? All right, all right, I'll
stop using it.) It's a scuba diving RPG.
I'll give you a couple of blank lines to let that percolate.
A scuba diving RPG. I paid damn near full-price for this game, new,
from a local gamestore. Why? I won't repeat it again, honest. You
know why. I figured it was one of those games that bears two prices
in its life, full price, and full price used on half.com. I figured
I'd preempt the whole secondary market business and snag it early.
A scuba diving RPG. Unlike most RPGs, there is no combat whatosever
in Everblue 2
. While there are "enemies" that can hurt you--sharks and
poisonous sea snakes--you cannot assault any of the evil fauna that
lurk in the depths. You can run away, you can find and use a sonar
attachment that scares your watery foes, but never does your character brandish
a sword (or harpoon or knife) and bust it Cloud Strife-style.
To be honest, I consider this a Good Thing. It's delightful to play
a game where combat is irrelevant, where the goal of the game is not
to leave a wake of steaming corpses. Sure, RPGs show the enemies
disappearing or disintegrating, but we know the truth
festering on the hillsides, they pile high in the dungeons, they fall from the
floating continents like so much detrius. The worlds of most RPGs are
terrifying places, where small bands of people cut vast swaths of
destruction across entire continents. In Everblue 2
, the closest
you ever get to a "swath of destruction" is when you go on a salvage spree
in one of the game's wrecks. And those items respawn immediately after
you leave anyway.
So. A scuba diving RPG. If there's no combat
, you say, how
is it an RPG at all?
(No, you don't really say any of this, I'm sure,
and you're probably not thinking it either; nonetheless, it's the easiest
way for me to segue without having terribly awkward bridges. Like this
one.) Well, as the game progresses, you buy or find better equipment
that allows you to descend to further depths, swim faster, and hold more
phat l3wt as you plunder the seas. And, yes, your hit points go up
occasionally as you gain 'levels.'
Did I mention there were fetch quests?
See, everyone on the island--I don't remember the name; the story's so
inconsequential as to be mostly irrelevant--is obsessed with diving or
something involving diving. They're missing their dead husband's diary,
some clay for sculpture, or taco recipes (no, that's not a joke), and
can find these things in the deep blue. As you do
people favours, they give you their Shells of Friendship
are as close as this game gets to a progress meter.
The core "storyline", if you want to call it that, takes around ten
hours to complete. It'd probably take less if you didn't end up doing
a number of the sidequests as well, but sometimes it's nice to swim around
in a sunken ocean liner looking for a gramophone, rather than pursuing
the Gratuitous Evil Corporation's cronies.
's presentation is simple, but it works beautifully.
The island is presented in 2D click-and-move-and-talk form, with the
ubiquitous Floating Hand representing, uh, whatever it represents.
When you go out to sea, you always stay close to the seabed, and so
there are no ascend/dive controls; you simply strafe around like in
a first-person shooter. A slow first-person shooter. Without the
It's when you enter the various derelicts and caves that the game
really shines. Now you have a full range of motion, and you have
to explore every nook and cranny of the various locales to find
what you need to progress. There's a lot of superfluous junk in
these "dungeons"--a lot
--but it's a blast to just tool around
in the depths, feeling a little scared and a little excited as your
wan flashlight tries to pierce the darkness.
[I find myself trying to not overuse various poetic terms for the
ocean. This is one of those games that inspires such phrases. Not
so much the ocean sequences--they're fairly plain--but when you
swim through the black and find yourself on a sunken sundeck, complete
with rattan chairs, or poking into the crew quarters of a pirate ship,
it's hard to not feel a little tingle of excitement, of awe, of
Here comes the obligatory Issue Paragraph. Certain parts of the game
follow blindingly stupid videogame logic; at the start, you can carry
a whopping 300g with you, but by the end of the game you can pick up
and store bunk beds and six-foot-long lockers with ease. The fact that salvageable items reappear
every time you dive into a wreck, while terribly handy for your pocketbook,
lacks a certain realism. There's never an explanation for
why the boat can only go certain distances away from the island until
it gets upgraded. And the core game doesn't last very long, so if you're
not a fan of "bonus stuff," you may find yourself done with Everblue
before you'd like.
But, as I say in (almost) every paragraph after the obligatory Issue Paragraph,
these issues are fairly minor. Every RPG has its dumb tropes, and Everblue
's just happen to be stranger because they are not familiar to me.
How realistic, precisely, are a bunch of treasure chests lying around in
the only passageway between Point A and B in every damn RPG ever? I
can forgive them, and I can forgive Everblue 2
What I can't forgive is that we never got Everblue
the first over here
in the States. It was released in Europe, but us Yanks never got it. A
damn shame, really.
A scuba-diving RPG. If that phrase perks up your ears--figuratively, I'm sure--then
you will probably enjoy this game as much as I did. It's got its issues, but it
occupied every night of mine for a week and a half, which is impressive.
The fact that it came out over here at all is even more impressive. If
you can--and you like this sort of thing--I heartily recommend
supporting it and other (okay, so I lied) quirky titles.
Plus, you can lay one of the best head-turners on your game-playing friends:
"Yeah, I just beat Everblue 2
. You know, that scuba diving RPG?" And
then you can act belligerent when they have no clue what you're talking about.
Because they should.
Return to the Playstation 2 review