When it was revealed last year, Ever Oasis was a surprise new IP from Nintendo, marking the first major release by Japanese developer Grezzo that doesn’t have Zelda in the title. It’s certainly a sign of trust in the team and Ever Oasis makes for a nice enough adventure, even if it does have some uninspired design choices.
Ever Oasis takes place in a world ravaged by a cursed desert that is spreading at an alarming rate. Oases are being overrun by the curse, including the one the main character lives in, with their brother dying to save them. After winding up near a small pool of water inhabited by a water spirit, this new pairing come to the conclusion that they need to create a new oasis and somehow stop the spread of the curse.
The fairly simple premise that does a great job in setting up the world. It’s not going to blow any older gamer’s expectations in terms of plot development, but it’s a relatively harmless tale that younger gamers in particular can get behind. It’s not a game exclusively for them, but they’d probably get more enjoyment out of befriending the wanderers and satisfying their requests as you explore the desert and its dungeons.
While it doesn’t really do much that hasn’t been done with the Nintendo 3DS before, Ever Oasis is an appealing looking game for the system with some decent music that invokes an almost Arabian theme. Characters have an almost “chibi” look to them, with cartoonishly large heads on small bodies, but they’re all easily distinguished from each other.
Ever Oasis is a game of two halves that are intrinsically linked: A traditional action adventure with dungeons in the style of The Legend of Zelda, and town management with elements of Viva Piñata thrown in for good measure. It’s an odd mix, but they’re intertwined with the happiness of your town being tied to your party’s HP and quests requiring exploration and gathering items to take back with you.
It’s clear that Grezzo have taken some inspiration from StreetPass with a few of the details presented in the town. A group of visitors will appear at your gate each day and new visitors will comment on either finally finding the oasis or mention something they like. There are also Nooks whose sole purpose is to enter your shops and spend money on the products that they sell.
Once you’ve fulfilled a condition or quest from your visitors, they’ll become a resident and grow your town. This can range from finding a lost item to having certain shops available. Once a resident, you can initially put them to work in new shops, but later on you’ll be able to have them work in your garden or accompany you in the adventure sections.
As your population grows, your oasis can be expanded to cover more territory and feature more shops and structures. This helps you to attract more and more people, as well as increase the maximum HP of your party. At first it’s fairly organic in terms of progression, but there comes a few points where you must grind side-quests in order to achieve a certain population count. The reasons are sound for story purposes, but it does feel forced.
Of course, the other side of the coin is the adventuring. It acts as a rather basic action adventure where characters have light and heavy attacks, as well as special attacks for some of the later allies you can bring with you. Each ally also has their own ability that allows for salvaging from certain spots or progressing through dungeons.
Enemies are weak to certain weapons or skills, so having the ability to swap between allies to perform special moves allows for more control. This is especially handy as the AI does tend to guide characters into the path of enemies a little too often. Enemies you encounter don’t have particularly tricky patterns to them, but there’s a bit of variety with the designs and how to tackle them.
Quests are perhaps some of the weaker elements of Ever Oasis. They essentially boil down to either having a certain shop in your oasis or grabbing a certain item from the world. They do make up the bulk of the game though, which is somewhat disappointing as it is perhaps the least compelling part of the game.
Exploring dungeons on the other hand is as good as The Legend of Zelda, except that it’s up to the allies accompanying you to lend you the abilities you need. They’re structured somewhat like the Nintendo 64 Legend of Zelda dungeons and the bosses are just as imaginative with multiple phases to keep things somewhat interesting.
Ever Oasis is a decent game for a younger audience to get into, but it doesn’t do a lot that’s completely new. It blends the adventuring with town management nicely and is a well made game, but at the same time there’s nothing that really thrilled me while playing it. It’s a shame really, as there’s nothing necessarily wrong with Ever Oasis, there’s just nothing particularly special either.