Ever Oasis Review: Slow, But Steady

It took everything in my power to not open this review with a “Wonderwall” joke, and here we [...]

SI 3DS EverOasis
(Photo: Nintendo)

It took everything in my power to not open this review with a "Wonderwall" joke, and here we are. Everything about Ever Oasis, the new 3DS action roleplaying title from Grezzo (The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D), sounds great on paper.

An RPG late in the 3DS' life from a developer experienced with the console and developing for it, a unique hook that is somewhere between city-building, life sim and dungeon crawling and a cute, but not overwhelming art style should make for something great, right? Right.

Ever Oasis is in no way a bad game, but for everything it does well, it misses the mark on a handful of other things. It's an enjoyable experience, but one you'll need to strap yourself in for. Let's jump in.

Story

The plot of Ever Oasis is nothing new, building upon age-old fantasy and fairytale tropes with not much deviation. You play as Tethu/Tethi, a Seedling who watches his/her brother fall to a great evil, taking his oasis with him, leaving you to start anew.

And that's where the game begins, as you're tasked with building an oasis, complete with finding new residents, opening shops, gardening and more. When you plant your oasis for the first time, you meet Esna, a water siren who guides you throughout your journey.

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(Photo: Nintendo)

Early on, you'll meet Miura, a lizard women in search of her sister, Roto, a horned seedling, Sol, the thief, and plenty more that'll assist you on your journey or open shops in your town. The story hits on things that would seem commonplace in any classic Mana series game, though it never climbs to the heights of its spiritual predecessors.

Gameplay

The gameplay of Ever Oasis is fairly simple, with each section of the game sporting its own set of goals and objectives. In your oasis, you'll be managing your time by checking in on residents, gardening for shop stock and collecting currency from shop owners.

Much of the city building aspect has you managing the resources gathered to build and open shops in your town, in turn garnering more currency and gaining experience for your oasis, which will level up and allow you to host more visitors and bring in new residents.

The residents are also a big part of the game, as some will show up unannounced in your town with dialogue-activated quest requirements while others will be found roaming the sprawling dungeon areas.

When you leave your town, the game transitions to its action RPG status, and once you meet the early-game companions, you'll have a few characters to switch between while in dungeons. Similar to puzzles in the LEGO series of games, certain characters will have weapons or abilities that can unlock doors, chests or reveal hidden passageways.

Unfortunately, this means a lot of backtracking.

But backtracking isn't the only tedious aspect of the game, as Ever Oasis' combat has a few flaws of its own, trading in more complex action RPG combat for a hack and slash-esque model, one made more frustrating by the imbalance of enemy difficulty in the desert and its dungeons.

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(Photo: Nintendo)

In most enemy scenarios, you'll be up against baddies that can one-shot you, despite your equipment or level outweighing them, making the game feel more like a struggling Dark Souls than a Mana game. You'll eventually get the hang of the combat and its timing, but it never stops being a stress inducer, even with the different fighting talents of your companions.

Finally, resident management in the game feels like a cross between Tomodachi Life and Animal Crossing, as the characters do have plenty to say, and dialogue in your town is often humorous and quick witted. It would have been nice to see the life sim part of the game expanded on a bit more.

The best part of Ever Oasis has to be its music, though, something that feels perfectly nostalgic despite being the soundtrack to a 2017 title. The chimes and eastern influence of the game's tunes make playing relaxing -- most of the time, and definitely add more life to a sometimes barren world.

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(Photo: Nintendo)

Verdict

Ever Oasis is a perfectly fine game, bringing in light touches from the Mana series while sprinkling hints of Grezzo's previous work throughout. It's an action RPG with a lot of heart, but that might not be enough to convince players looking to sink 40+ hours into a AAA game.

However, we're excited about the characters and world of the game, and we can only hope that they'll show up somewhere down the line. Until then, you'll catch us listening to the game's soundtrack on loop.

Rating: Three and a half out of five stars

Ever Oasis is now available for the Nintendo 3DS. A review copy of the game was provided by Nintendo.