Ever Oasis is a frickin’ adorable game and I need it

I’ve been intrigued about Ever Oasis since I first saw the trailer.

The subsequent excitable discussions that sprung up around it in gamer communities almost immediately only compounded how I felt. It definitely seemed interesting, but I hadn’t looked into it too much before I downloaded the free demo so I didn’t really know what to expect.

One of the first things that you inescapably notice about it is how frickin’ adorable it is. The art style is so unbelievably cute, but it’s not just cute. Every character has a very distinct design and the background is really detailed. It looks fantastical and realistic all at once.

I know you don’t always get the most accurate feel for this sort of thing in such brief demos, but I really like what I’ve seen of the gameplay so far.

It seems like it’s going to be challenging enough to keep me – a full grown adult playing a game likely designed to also appeal to children – engaged in the story and puzzles, but not so challenging that I’ll be exhausted or frustrated by it. I like how you have to think about what sills you need and what characters are going to be best in any given situation. (That also kind of gives a sense of promoting teamwork, which is adorable.)

I assume that the puzzles will get harder in the real game, but it doesn’t seem like it’ll get overwhelming. A guy in a gaming forum said it was impossible to play without walkthroughs, but he’s literally the only person out of a fair few that I’ve spoken to who thought this, so there’s a good chance he’s an idiot and the game is fine.

The missions kind of remind me of the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games, but they’ve taken the concept and made it better (and without a Pokemon skin). You go out as a team and you do things that help your little community, doing people favours and whatnot.

This game has also got rid of the thing I find most frustrating about Pokemon Mystery Dungeon – the instructions are direct but not patronising. Generally, I think that the Mystery Dungeon games are too aware that they’re aimed at children and it feels very quickly like you’re being spoken down to.

Basically all the things I liked about the gameplay in Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, with the only exception being that there are Pokemon in it, are in this game. And then some. I like that the missions are to help people and I really enjoyed exploring the brief bits of the game I got to visit in the demo.

I think the reason I’ve fallen so hard so quickly for this game is the premise.

It’s so lovely.

You live in an apocalyptic wasteland and you’re part of a small, growing community of survivors building a safe space – an oasis, if you will – in the wildlands where people can feel safe and welcome. New people come to your village and you do them favours and encourage them to stay. The more people in your home, the better it flourishes and the better a world you create.

I adore the focus on community and compassion and caring. It’s quite rare.

I understand why – with most games being action-based, it’s difficult to justify violence so the story world generally just behaves as if its an accepted part of society. Maybe fighting is a sport, maybe you play as an assassin, maybe they don’t bother acknowledging that violence is an issue. Having fighting in a game gives you, well, something to do.

In this game, even the fighting has a sense of sweetness to it. You don’t kill your opponent. Instead, it seems to transform from a monster into a less threatening form of their species. In a way, you’ve rescued them from a dark existence.

It’s just way too cute.

I’m saving for about a million things right now, but this is absolutely going on my list of things I need to get.

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