There have been a lot of interesting genre mashups with lots of heart lately—haunting stories with poignant messages that usually subvert the norm of video games altogether, where killing everything actually has a negative impact. Everhood is such a title: a genre mash-up that surprisingly shares many elements with Undertale while providing a experience of its own—but just barely.
Everhood is an adventure game with rhythm game sections and other genres thrown in occasionally. In the time its been released, I’ve seen many people describe it as Guitar Hero meets Undertale, and while that’s not entirely accurate, it’s hard to deny that characterization. In Everhood you play as a wooden doll whose arm has been stolen by a blue gnome. As the wooden doll, you wake up in a strange land full of interesting characters. Sometimes you’ll have to bypass these characters by playing a sort of rhythm game that resembles Guitar Hero as well as a few other genres, including a racing game segment.
While Everhood isn’t really about tight gameplay mechanics, its rhythm game is actually sort of fun. It was hard for me to play at first, since your goal is to avoid lasers ON the beat, which is usually when you would try to hit those notes in a normal rhythm game. You can either jump over the ‘notes’ or dodge left or right to avoid them. Some of these laser notes are too tall to jump over. There are situational variations on this gameplay. Those rhythm sections can also be incredibly unforgiving. Even with quick reflexes, it’s possible you may need to play them a couple of times each to get through them. While most of the rhythm gameplay requires you to merely survive to the end, in some cases you’ll have to do some action or a meet a goal before you are able to proceed—especially after you get the ability to deflect some beats back.
While I enjoy the rhythm sections, they don’t feel as thought out or have the same impact on the narrative as the bullet hell sections of Undertale did. Also, the music that you dodge lasers to is pretty good, though all of the music would probably show up as B-Sides if they were composed by Toby Fox. The music in Everhood is serviceable, but not quite as memorable as Undertale’s.
While you’re not playing rhythm games, you’re exploring the dark, surreal world of Everhood and its characters. Again, the similarities with Undertale can’t really be ignored here. Characters are quirky in similar ways to those in Undertale, and even tout a similar character design style. Everhood’s world is an interesting place to inhabit, and there are secrets and story nuance to uncover.
I found Everhood’s story to be similarly derivative of Undertale. While it certainly tells its own story, it tends to hit similar beats, themes, and tone. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, however. I wouldn’t say that Everhood is a rip-off of Undertale—it brings enough to the table—but Everhood is definitely paying homage to that game.
It’s hard to deny Undertale’s influence on Everhood. I think part of what made Undertale so successful was how novel it was. Everhood, on the other hand, seems to be full of concepts that have been explored elsewhere. There’s nothing wrong with homage, though, and Everhood’s amalgamation of various IPs makes it into something somewhat unique. Even though its heavy reliance on explore, interact, battle, and its art style make it seem more like an Undertale ripoff, that doesn’t stop you from being able to enjoy Everhood’s poignant underlying story.
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