STAFF REVIEW of Everhood: Eternity Edition (Xbox One)

Wednesday, September 27, 2023.
by Adam Dileva

Everhood: Eternity Edition Box art I’m all for quirky and weird games, which is probably why I enjoyed games like Undertale, Lisa: The Painful and Earthbound so much. Speaking of Undertale, if I had to compare Everhood: Eternity Edition to one game, that would be the one. It has similarities in its simplistic visuals, humor and rhythmic gameplay, but is a completely unique experience on its own merit. Released back in 2021, Everhood is now here for Xbox fans to jump into its weird and oddly addictive world, complete with 16 new songs added by some very big names in the industry.

Everhood: Eternity Edition (simply referred to as Everhood from here on) starts with by asking if you are ready to abandon your humanity and accept immortality. Say “No” and the game ends and you go back to the main menu, so clearly you hit “Yes” the next time. The opening scene begins in a forest with a red wooden doll on the ground, aptly named Red, but the limbs are broken apart and strewn about. Along comes a small Blue Thief who steals your arm and takes off. This somehow awakens you and puts you back together, minus one arm, and thus begins your quest to get your arm back.

Up the trail you’ll meet Frog, acting as the game’s tutorial to how the rhythmic gameplay is controlled. You’re then introduced to the save system, which can be done at any street light, and yes, they’ll talk to you as well. You’ll eventually meet up with the Blue Thief, which turns out he’s working for Gold Pig to told him to steal your arm, so naturally that’s who you’ll be trying to find to get your arm back. I don’t want to talk about much more of the story itself, as it’s quite interesting, and honestly, there’s so many plot twists and turns that I didn’t’ expect that you’re best to uncover these for yourself. The plot actually takes some quite dark turns, and the ending sequence had me quite shocked and surprised. With multiple endings and a New Game+ mode, there’s plenty of replayability as well.

You’ll first choose what difficulty you want to play on, from Story Mode up to an unlockable Insane Mode once you complete your first playthrough. As you explore each area you’ll come across a cast of really unique and odd characters. Some are recurring and have more importance, whereas others are just minor and only offer a line or two of dialogue. You’ll eventually make it to the hub area that has a number of different doors you can access (and some you can’t yet) to reach new worlds. Each area is vastly different from the last and memorable in their own way.

As you explore each area, you’ll eventually come across different characters that will battle you. Instead of a turn based system like in most RPG’s, Everhood instead uses a music based approach that is quite similar to Guitar Hero more than anything else. There are five different lanes that the notes will come down the screen, and you must simply avoid them by moving left or right and not being in that lane at the wrong moment as the note reaches the bottom of the screen.

Battles begin easy enough with slow and rhythmic songs, eventually becoming more and more challenging as you progress. ‘Boss’ battles are quite challenging, especially on the harder difficulties, but you have a health bar above your head that will regenerate the longer you don’t get hit by any notes. This gives you a little breathing room for the sections where you’ll accidentally take damage from as handful of notes in succession.

There’s essentially two different types of notes; small flat ones you can jump over (or can lane change to avoid) and taller pillar-like ones that can’t be jumped over and have to be avoided instead. Without spoiling any story elements, eventually you’ll also be able to absorb certain notes as well, charging up two similar colored in a row which can then be used to fire back at the enemy. Absorb a different color than the first though and it won’t count, so you’ll need to be purposely ‘catching’ specific colored notes in a row if you want to fight back. This is much easier said than done when songs become quite challenging, fast paced and the screen starts to distort. Also, you’ll eventually find black notes that can’t be absorbed, having to be avoided, and if you get hit, you lose your charge as well.

I’ll admit, I found the movement to be a little stiff at first, as I couldn’t time the jumps properly and kept getting hit. Eventually I got used to it and had no problems after a handful of songs. Also, once you play a level a few times and get to learn the song’s beat, it makes it easier as well, as you know that when you tap your foot to the rhythm that’s the moment to avoid or jump. Just like in Guitar Hero, once you were able to play Expert difficulty songs, you just get in that zone where you become one with the song and just know how to react instinctively, even when the playfield starts to distort and the screen is chaotic with things all over and flashing lights.

The star of Everhood isn’t the story, the comedy or even the gameplay, it’s the incredible soundtrack from a variety of artists. With a wide variety of genres and beats, there’s sure to be something you like along the way, though I enjoyed them all for different reasons. Even the first few songs you play are bangers. Chris Nordgren and Cazok seem to have made the bulk of the core game’s soundtrack, but with the Eternity Edition, 16 new musical battles have been added from some pretty influential composers. Just to list a few of the standouts:

- David Wise (Donkey Kong Country, Battletoads, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts)
- Manami Matsumae (Mega Man, Shovel Knight)
- Disasterpiece (Fez, Hyper Light Drifter)
- Keiji Yamagishi (Ninja Gaiden, Streets of Rage 4)

Don’t let the simplistic visuals from the trailer or screenshots fool you, there’s a clever story underneath and some really addictive gameplay. That said, if you even have the most minor of any sort of photosensitivity when it comes to flashing lights, Everhood is absolutely not for you. There’s plenty of warnings about it before beginning, but it can be a lot to take in visually, especially in the last section when things get truly crazy. Even not having any issues with flashing screens, it can be quite difficult to discern what’s going on at any moment, though by design.

Everhood: Eternity Edition isn’t just a mere port, it adds a whole new slew of songs for veterans to enjoy as well. The addictive rhythmic gameplay is tough but fair and elevated by the fantastic soundtrack for anyone that loves good beats and chiptunes. The story does take some unexpected dark twists, but it was surely a memorable ride. I’ve never taken any drugs in my life, but I can only expect this is what it might look like if I did. Already a cult hit, I hope more experience the unique weirdness of Everhood that had previously not heard of it, much like myself, as I now anticipate its announced sequel.

**Everhood: Eternity Edition was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10


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