Navigating the afterlife as the child-like spirit Ki, Evergate is a game that asks you to explore past memories that depict Ki’s connection to another soul. As you continue through the game’s particular twist on the indie platformer, you learn more and more about the story of Ki’s life.
The platforming of Evergate is simple to pick up, but comes with the twist of Ki’s Soulflame. As you jump, you can activate this beam, slowing time as you point it in a particular direction, and then use it to propel yourself forward. The goal is always the same, to reach the next gate and skim through to the next level and part of the story. That might sound simple, but the beam must intersect with one of the many yellow crystals on screen and end on one of the magical glowing panels in order to propel you forward. As the game progresses through the different landscapes, your Soulflame ability changes as new crystal types appear. It could transform to being able to create platforms or teleport you to where you need to be instead of acting as a method of propulsion.
Part of the puzzle is working out the route and how to use your abilities to collect essence, which is scattered throughout the levels. Collecting essence allows you to gain abilities that help you advance through the levels. Evergate is ingenious in its conception, with each aspect of gameplay well thought out to create a beautiful world to explore.
A problem I found, however, was that the game could be so frustratingly difficult, even in the earlier levels, which all had a suggested completion time of around 20 seconds. Some levels took me up to an hour to complete, due to one specific grievance. Evergate demands pinpoint accuracy. If you miss a jump or a beam activation by a split-second, you will invariably need to restart the level. This led to a lot of repetition, which turned to frustration, and then mistakes, more repetition, and so on. It feels more like a vicious cycle rather than the interesting puzzle platforming I believe Stone Lantern was aiming for. For a game that is so simple in design and concept, Evergate is unwaveringly and infuriatingly difficult in ways it didn’t need to be.
An easy fix, as it were, would be to have a more forgiving difficulty setting. While I can push myself to struggle through the levels, there’s not much fun in suffering through a game, no matter how enjoyable the concept is. Masocore platformers have their place and appeal, but the difficulty here is less a technical challenge and more how finicky the timing is.
Despite this, the landscapes depicted were beautiful and detailed, with an eerie glow reminiscent of Ori and the Blind Forest. The atmosphere varied between the areas, from a dark, almost unnerving Chinese forest to the open, calm, icy plains of Alaska, allowing you to travel the world alongside Ki.
Not only is the artwork stunningly varied from level to level, but the score adapts itself for each world, matching the visual aesthetic depicted. This stunning level of synergy allowed for true immersion, letting you feel as you belong to the memories in the game. Between levels, memories are depicted more clearly as the levels seamlessly connect to one another. Above all, the animation in Evergate is impeccable, and is the game’s saving grace.