Ever Oasis

released on Jun 13, 2017

"From the team behind The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D comes a daring new adventure that expands on everything RPG fans love about the genre. As a chosen Seedling, your mission is to build a prosperous oasis by working with your partner, lsuna. Meet and ally with members of other tribes to complete your mission, while battling against the Chaos threatening peace in the desert. Battle enemies in real-time combat as you switch between three party members and explore a savage desert. Forage for materials in caves and puzzle-filled dungeons to earn dewadems, which are used to grow new shops and even grow gear!

- Dive into a new take on the Adventure RPG genre in a brand new IP.
- Explore a savage desert, deep caves, and puzzle-filled dungeons.
- Forage materials to make products at shops, or synthesize equipment and items at your treehouse.
- Complete missions to recruit new villagers, each with their own shops, weapons and abilities, then bring them exploring/foraging.
- Earn dewadem, currency, over time as shops sell their wares to build new Bloom Booths.
- Developed by GREZZO Co., Ltd. the team behind The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D
- Battle wildlife that are possessed by Chaos and other enemies in real-time combat, while actively switching between party members.
- Immerse into a beautifully created world inspired by Egyptian culture/mythology."

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Genuinely love this game, I dearly wish it wasn't dealt the blow of being a late 3DS title.

This review contains spoilers

Nearly made me cry at the end 👍

Good example of a game that is badly in need of both design craft and narrative theme. On paper, the game sounds interesting enough: revive a town through shops and farming, adventure the nearby landscape with shopkeepers, dive into dungeons..
Customizing the town (at least a few hours in) only involved placing a few shops and some other items to optimize their income. Restocking shops involves a process of farming for particular materials, walking into the shop and restocking. As the game gets bigger you have more shops to restock. I guess the idea is that the player was supposed to be sort of a supplier for the town, but the NPCs' dialogue didn't feel particularly interesting.
Made worse is that grinding for these items is a little boring. The combat isn't that interesting, the environment you find enemies in ranges from empty large maps to dungeons filled with boring mechanics reminiscent of the 3D Zeldas' boring puzzles. So if you need to restock, it means going to a dungeon and finding an enemy that you easily kill. Because there's SO MANY materials, I would assume this kind of gameplay loop would occur a lot through the game.
The dungeons are bad - for some reason the Zelda Items needed to do the (boring) puzzles are tied to party members, so you need to bring a mining person to mine ore, etc... puzzles seem simplistic or perfunctory, the combat doesn't really use 3D in an interesting way...
So overall, you have a combat/exploration loop whose combat isn't fun, nor exploration interesting. And that feeds into a town management loop, which is tedious, simplistic and slow (to farm you have to walk to the farm screen...load.. etc). The Town is 3D and explorable, but there isn't much to explore or see (like in a harvest moon town), it would have felt more efficient to merely make everything into menus? Or to shrink the size a lot more or improve fast travel.
Simple town management could be cool, but it would only work if it was feeding into an adventure experience with more well-designed and interesting things, or narrative hooks. But Ever Oasis feels like spending time in one flat system in order to make the numbers in another flat system go up.
I think the number of shopkeepers could be way lower. Lean into making them actually interesting characters, tie them to the environment in some way so that there's a desire to go out into the world. Create some kind of motion that makes it actually interesting to run around. Make the shops interface in more interesting ways with the combat/exploration systems, etc...
Ever Oasis reminds me of why 'lots of game systems!' games can fail, in that if none of them are given ample design thought, there's a risk of nothing interesting happening - sure, the systems feed into each other and make numbers go up, but there's not much meaningful outside of that. (And there's already a genre for 'number go up' that streamlines and gives lots of thought into making number go up - clicker and idle games!)
Anyways yeah. I guess I like the spirit of this game, but it doesn't do anything particularly well, which is sad. I think the setting of exploring outwards from a town, going to the countryside, etc, is really interesting!

I'm genuinely saddened by the fact that this is a Nintendo IP because I just know that's going to end up like StarTropics and just languish forever in Nintendo's company portfolio as "that weird thing that failed" rather than receive a sequel/spiritual successor that irons out all of the rough spots. There's some great ideas here! The execution is a little rough and the combat is boring, but hey, I appreciate the spirit.
It's pretty clear that the people developing this were hoping that this was going to be a smash hit, right down to a species designed with the specific purpose of becoming marketable plushies. Someone really wanted those Noot birds to be on phone cases and keychains.
I also love that Nintendo has an IP where the main story is "the apocalypse happened, most of the cities are dead, humanity is also dead, and the wilderness is a bleak wasteland of sand". They tried to soften the blow by having a localization where the words "Squee" and "Rawr" are honest-to-god used in a 2017 release, but man, we could've had a Nintendo franchise where the premise was "global warming fucked us all over, go time manage your desert survivor town and hope that this named character doesn't die like the other named characters".

Literally no one I know has played this game. It’s alright I guess.

Really disappointing for a first party Nintendo game, but it did lead me to discover Rune Factory so it was worth it