Nintendo and Grezzo's 3DS game is a cool action-RPG, but it's also all about chill vibes and positivity.
In all the hubbub about the Switch and E3, one 3DS game, out on Friday June 23, stands to be possibly overlooked. From my time with the first few hours of Nintendo’s Ever Oasis, it has thus far delivered on the promise of being both a culmination of developer Grezzo’s 5+ years remaking Zelda games on 3DS and a spiritual follow-up of sorts to the Mana series. Mixed in for good measure are a whole bunch of neat town-sim elements that are borderline Actraiser-esque at times. You’ll have to wait a little longer for our full review, but an aspect of Ever Oasis that has stood out to me in its early goings has been its heart and tone.
Throughout gaming history, a lot of the focus of any kind of action-oriented game was to kill the baddies. The goal is generally complete the levels and beat the final boss. Ever Oasis still has a lot of those elements, as you do battle a wide variety of enemies, but that’s not the driving force. The primary goal of Ever Oasis is to just make the world a better place. Chaos has corrupted the world, ruined other oases, and made otherwise charming characters scared. As the budding heroic chief of your very own new and fledgling oasis, you pair up with a Water Spirit to build your new town and fill it with residents. The thrust of the adventure is just fueled by positivity. You’ll convene with the spirit, named Esna, and just talk about life and stuff. Yea - you’re all about stomping out chaos, but you also want to make sure everyone’s having a good time and the environment is pleasant.
It reminds me, in a lot of ways, of the great 3DS game Fantasy Life, which was astounding for how weirdly nonconfrontational some story segments were. For example, at one point in Fantasy Life, you come across the Dark Sultan, a demonic-looking creature who seems poised to be a major boss. In any other game, he’d be a villain. However, it turns out that the Dark Sultan is just involved in a prank war with another ruler. He’s actually a totally reasonable guy.
Ever Oasis doesn’t quite bend to those ridiculous lengths, but in a sea of aggressive games, it stands out as something more light-hearted and upbeat. It’s not without emotion or tragedy - the game does kick off with your brother’s Oasis being destroyed by Chaos and his fate unknown. But the attitude has more in common with a local community trying to stop chaotic litter from ruining the environment than a classic RPG party setting out to stop a villain’s nefarious plan. Ever Oasis’ primary foe, at least as far as I’ve played, is a vengeful nature more than anything else. Every enemy you fell runs off like it was a Sonic the Hedgehog baddie, because they’re corrupted by Chaos.
Outside of the more uplifting and inspiring tone, Ever Oasis has been a dynamite action-RPG with some light town simulation aspects. You can set off with a party of three adventurers to explore the world, collect items, and uncover new potential residents for your Oasis. When you’re tired of that, you can head back to your Oasis to use your spoils to stock the shops you help build. To get more shops and residents, you have to make them happy by completing quests, and the more residents in your Oasis, the more powerful you and your new home become. Everything funnels into each other in a fantastic manner that makes it so Ever Oasis rarely slows down, but also never feels too overwhelming. But maybe that last part is helped by the peaceful vibe of you and your Water Spirit.
If you want to try out Ever Oasis for yourself before the June 23 release, check out the demo on the 3DS eShop now.