Even the Ocean

Even the Ocean

released on Nov 16, 2016

Even the Ocean

released on Nov 16, 2016

From the creators of Anodyne comes a grand story about Aliph, a lowly power plant technician for Whiteforge City, who finds her world turned upside-down after a routine maintenance trip goes awry. Now, working directly with Whiteforge's Mayor Biggs to face an unknown menace, Aliph must navigate her newfound power and influence to save the city. Aliph's identities, environmental issues and the world’s fate all hang in the balance of Light and Dark energies.

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The second Analgesic title for me in a few weeks - call me a fan now because these games really do it for me in so many different ways. They tell an engaging story with great character dialogue and emotions, with super impressive and memorable music all throughout, and always in these weird colorful worlds that feel out of place, out of time; futuristic and bizarre. And their design philosophy is all about the appreciation of simple and classic old games that give us nostalgia, but that everyone can play and enjoy. Both this game and Sephonie have customizable options that can make the game as easy or accessible as you want from the get go, or just to play the game normally. And they also "break the fourth wall" by talking to you directly as game designers, offering personal advice for the game, showing you how they made certain things, and even containing hidden little rooms and debug options that kind of break the game in a fun way.

Even the Ocean tells a super interesting story using very solid puzzle platforming and exploration, and with ethereal music that feels like Brian Eno meets Grant Kirkhope at times (one of my faves is this track you'll hear quite often in an area that you return to frequently... such a nice dreamy bop). It feels like a lost SNES or Genesis game in the best way. It's not a hard puzzle game except for some late-game sections but even then you won't struggle too much - as I mentioned this is something anyone can enjoy. It wraps up in a way I did not expect and had me engaged the whole time. I can't wait to play other Analgesic titles, what a great team of only two members with a ton of creative zest

Extremely good 2d platformer. Movement feels slick and I really like how the energy mechanic can lead to a bit of min-maxing lol. A bit on the easy side, for me at least. Maybe would have been nice to have some options to make it a bit more difficult but its whatever. Music and art are top notch with the artwork particularly being a huge selling point, simply a gorgeous game. With the story, I always like it when an action-focused genre like platformers have other stuff to do outside of the platforming and structure to guide the rest of the game on. The story does both of these and I think it does it quite well! It may be a bit "preachy" for some, but the moment-to-moment character reactions are really good and add some nice depth to the world and its characters. It also has an entire scrapped prototype of an earlier version of the game as post-game, which is awesome to see, even if I would have preferred it be a bit more guided than it is, but the fact its even there is so cool. Overall huge recommend.

Even the Ocean is by far Analgesic's most ambitious game, and every thing I love and hate about the game comes from that fact. To start with the story, unlike the brilliant characters of Anodyne 2 and Sephonie, EtO feels like it cares more about the world and the story around the world rather than the the people who live in it. And while that does serve the narrative of the game, it also meant that, until the big impact moment at the end of this one, there were only a few little moments that felt worth it to take a break from platforming to experience. (The namesake song is definitely one of them). Still, when comparing this game to non Analgesic-stories, it's hard to not love the charm of this world, and the way that playing it after playing Anodyne greatly increases the amount of perspective you feel it provides. It's a story that I feel impacted me the way it did because I had already played some of Melos and Marina's other games, and thus felt a connection with the way their games view the world.

Gameplay-wise, this one is definitely an oddity. On the one hand, the actual gimmick that replaces health is pretty uninteresting, and just serves as a puzzle-creator. On the other hand, the shield mechanic in this game is just an unfathomable amount of fun to use, and it by far the reason that this game is still likely going to be one of my favorites I play this year - just like Shovel Knight's Shovel, it completely transforms platforming, this time into a duel stick experience, something that made breezing through levels so much fun. While the levels never quite get difficult enough to be interesting, I still found just running around a beautiful place with a beautiful score to be too much fun to not call this game great.

Game #1 of 2024, January 2nd.

It's hard to be the middle child.

There's nothing particularly wrong with Even the Ocean. Its predecessor, Anodyne, came early enough in the indie boom that its novelty carried it past its weaker design choices. The sequel to that game, Anodyne 2, came about a bit later and brought with it a certain confidence in its eccentricities, a boldness that improved on the first game in every way. In between there was this: stumbling, a sign of growth, an attempt to tackle a more concrete story and more involved mechanics but lacking just enough to fall short on both.

The platform puzzling is… fine, really. Fun concepts that are never really explored, rooms that are easily broken, challenges that are afraid to slow the player down. The core mechanic of light/dark energy and how that correlates to your vertical/horizontal movement is brilliant and utterly underutilized. Success comes with ease, and with that ease comes a lack of investment.

Meanwhile the story tries, sometimes succeeds, often does not. Strong character moments are undercut by heavy-handed technique while the worldbuilding is more of a fragmented tour and less of a nuanced dive. Everything feels earnest, untempered, eager to be seen but with little to say beyond a basic allegory. There are worse things to be, same as there are better.

A positively different kind of adventure platformer experience, as expected from the devs.

my one analgesic blind spot and one im so angry i didnt correct earlier,,,almost certainly the height of their 2D game design for one, with a bold eccentricity that nonetheless feels constantly self-reinforcing and even intuitive...and as always, dovetails absolutely gorgeously with the larger picture. a rly common mental image in analgesics games is the individual standing in front of the incomprehensible and massive forces that have shaped them and their actions, and while this is by any measure the Bleakest of those in their catalog its also affirming in small ways...in particular the energy system. which even as u are filled with dread doing things u know u probably shouldnt (a feeling harnessed to similarly great effect in anodyne 2, god i love how many connections and filled gaps in this ludography finally playing this filled out for me), the energy balancing still illustrates that on an individual inherent human level, we are Different then systems, we know how to live well and are just forced pretend that the same rules dont apply to those above us. the pendulum swings between the intensive gameplay sections and the colorful intimate narrative sections are especially stunning here. as with all their games, a million tiny little moments of narrative and aesthetic and design that will stay with me forever.