Ever Forward is a 3D adventure puzzle game with a sad but heartwarming story. You play as a little girl called Maya, trapped in between reality and imagination. I don’t want to say too much about the story because I would hate to spoil it, but the story is centered around (what seems to be) a cataclysmic event that has forced everyone to stay indoors and a story of neglect by a mother to her child (though not on purpose). The ending was kind of obvious but emotion-filled nonetheless and I was sad it ended and wanted more.
In the beginning of this game, you arrive in a grassy land where some houses are taken over by glowing red roots and seem to be corrupted. Every time you visit one of these places, you get teleported into the puzzle world where, with the help of a floating cube, you must solve the puzzle to remember a memory. In the puzzle world, every puzzle starts the same with the cube being used to open the puzzle. The goal is also always the same, needing Maya to get a cube to the end of the puzzle. What you encounter in the middle depends on the level and can include (though not limited to), box switches, weight activated switches, teleporters, and even gravity control. Ever Forward can be very rewarding to the player at times as there are many puzzles that must be well thought out before execution to be flawless.
There was a great balance of characters, scenes, and actual gameplay. The music was also very relaxing and I noticed it helped me get through the harder puzzles. The visuals were very pleasant, with the grassy land looking very scenic and lush. The puzzle world was very beautiful as well but had a more modern feel to it and was filled with concrete colors. I felt a sense of attachment to the characters and the more I played, the more I wanted to find out what happens.
A feature I thought was very helpful was that you could save anywhere, anytime and that helped a lot with the more harder levels where i found myself repeating the same thing over and over again.
Despite having a nice story and some nice puzzles, it is sometimes too slow and the mechanics feel too awkward at times, especially with some of the more difficult levels. As mentioned before, there is also not a lot of focus on explaining the mechanics and little to no hints to figure them out. Sure, you can collect leaves to give you a hint but this feature is not explained properly and barely helps. Add to it some awkward timing based puzzles that don’t work with the controls of the game and you’ve got some very difficult puzzles that tend to be more frustrating and based on sheer luck. Thankfully this wasn’t the case for all the puzzles and a majority of them were actually very fun. Although to be honest, I got stuck on a level and couldn’t get past it due to this very reason which was very, very frustrating. I even checked gameplay videos and did the same exact things but it still wasn’t working. That’s how precise I had to be.
It might be nice to give the player a hard mechanic to figure out, but its definitely more rewarding to first introduce the mechanic and then build on it, with the total difficulty increasing steadily as you advance through the puzzles. This is not the case in Ever Forward where some of the puzzles would be difficult, then easy, then extremely difficult. There are a lot of discrepancies in the overall difficulties of the levels and its very unstable and can be very frustrating. While it is true that the player would appreciate some easier levels in between the hard ones, this feels like the levels are way too easy compared to some of the ones that follow afterwards.
There was also unclear visual cues in the hub / grassy world. Mainly at the beginning and especially with the tree trunk that you can use to go to the next area. I frankly had no idea we can even use the trunk to walk on top of it until I saw it in a video. Though the rest is self-explanatory, with cues such as big glowing red roots to point you in the right direction.
Nevertheless, there were some puzzles that were extremely fun to play, especially when teleporters were added as you had to look at the whole puzzle from a different angle and choose to teleport at a specific time to avoid being caught. It was levels like these where I enjoyed the game the most and I got a sense of satisfaction after completing it.
There were also some bugs in the game. For instance, when you try to climb over the ledge, if you clicked the button before it was shown on the screen, you would jump instead and alert all the robots to your location. Another bug was the teleporter from the grassy world to the puzzle world. Sometimes you would not get instantly teleported even if you enter the broken house and you would instead have to search for the place that teleports you around the house.
In the end, Ever Forward is a fun puzzle game with small bugs. Saving a lot is the key to getting past those harder levels and if you have the patience, keep trying- eventually its bound to work. The game itself is very enjoyable save for a few things that could be fixed and I definitely had fun playing the game. I even wish it was longer.
The game was released on the 13th of August, 2020 by Pathea Games and is available to purchase on PC via Steam for $14.99.