Everlight of Magic & Power Review

Anyone looking for a fresh new game, with a whimisical, light-hearted approach to magic and fantasy, need look no further than the recent release from The Adventure Company: Everlight of Magic & Power. Created by The Games Company, Everlight allows the player to embark on a journey to explore a totally different world -- a world where fairies and elves and goblins still exist, and where magic is everywhere.

As the game begins, Melvin is a normal -- if somewhat introverted -- 13-year-old boy. One day, he wanders into a local shop, where the shopkeeper presents him with an opportunity to invoke candle power to travel to a strange new land, in a time different than his own. When he arrives, he finds that he is in a town that has been under a curse for hundreds of years. By day, Melvin meets an entourage of fairly normal townspeople; but by night each of them changes personality into something totally different from their daytime character. It is up to Melvin to explore the town and surrounding areas, talk to everyone he can, find out what has happened, and free the town from this curse.

The game is played in the third person, as Melvin, and takes place almost exclusively within the confines of the small town of Tallen. The scenery is a delightfully caricatured cartoon-style environment, not unlike the Simon the Sorceror games. However, the attention to detail that is apparent in every aspect of the artwork has taken this style of game to new heights. (See sidebar for screen samples.)

Employing a day-night motif, the game allows for instant changes between the two. No time is required to pass in order to invoke this change; indeed, Melvin can switch between the two at any point in the game, and for any duration of time. Given that "everything changes" at nighttime, this duality presents two distinct environments for Melvin to explore. Places he has already visited during the day, and people he has already talked to under "normal" circumstances, could change dramatically by switching to nighttime. In fact, in some cases it is critical for Melvin to know whom to approach at what time of day, to accomplish the tasks set before him. And if that weren't enough, Melvin will discover that one particular task will require him to travel through time, as well.

The interface for Everlight is a simple point-and-click one, using the mouse to direct Melvin's movements, pick up objects, interact with other people, and -- when speaking with others -- select topics of conversation. The mouse is also used to select items from inventory, and -- when necessary -- combine items together.

As already mentioned, the artwork in the game is extremely detailed, yet in a "cartoony" way. The intricate 2D backgrounds are intermingled with many animated objects (mice running through many scenes seems to be a theme in the game), and realistic animated light and haze effects (such as shadows cast by the passing clouds, or mist rising from the ground) are rendered extremely well.

One thing that should be noted is that this is essentially a pure adventure game -- as opposed to an adventure/puzzle game. There are many inventory-style challenges (e.g., finding objects to interact with other objects); and the majority of the game is task-based (i.e., determining what Melvin's next activity should be, and figuring out how to accomplish it). However, there are really no specific logic puzzles, no "brain busters." In fact, the overall design of the game is quite similar to the Simon the Sorcerer games, where the game begins with a single task to achieve (in this case, rid the town of its curse); but along the way, various "roadblocks" are encountered that require our hero to interrupt his primary task in order to help someone, or to locate some object, or accomplish some intermediate chore, or do a favor for someone that will then provide him with further information, or progress, toward his main focus. Each of these, at the time, seems a diversion -- a straying from what Melvin came to accomplish. But each is critical, in that it provides another "piece of the puzzle" that he is trying to decipher, and brings him closer to accomplishing his original goal.

Since the game does progress along a specific story path, there is a great degree of linearity in the game play. While there is still much random exploration within each segment of the game, there are also many places where a single event or action is required before the game can be moved along. And until that action (or "trigger") takes place, there will be very little other productive game play. Thankfully, the game includes a diary -- kept by Melvin's faithful elven companion, Fiona -- which lists all of the outstanding tasks that Melvin is working on, along with some hints as to what he may have to do to accomplish them. It is this diary that is also the mechanism by which the player may select the game's difficulty level, as the three possible selections (Easy, Medium, Hard) each provide a different level of hints to the player.

If I had any complaint at all about the game, it would be as a result of this game linearity. There was often a feeling of "What do I do now?" The one and only activity required at a particular moment to "trigger" the next step in the game was non-intuitive, and resulted in much extraneous trial-and-error, unnecessary repetitive dialogues with the other characters, and an overall feeling of frustration. At times, it seemed that the only thing that could be done was to navigate the entire town, and speak with every person -- both during the day, and at nighttime -- to try and find something that would move the game along. This resulted in a lot of "back and forth" in the game, running from one place to another, particularly when it became necessary to talk to many individuals in sequence, which became quite tedious. Thankfully, the game also includes a map of the entire town of Tallen, which allows the player to immediately transport to any place in the game with a single click.

The game is rated "T" (Teen), and there are several reasons for that. One is that there is some mild "language," but the predominant reason is the prevalence of sexual innuendo and related humor. Throughout the game, there is much double-entendre, as well as scenes (particularly at night time) with direct sexual themes (such as a daytime "granny" who, at night, turns into a nymphomaniac dominatrix). Suggestive comments and sexual references pervaded the game unnecessarily, particularly in the humor.

The game length is moderately long; however, some of that is due to the random running around, or trial-and-error approach to game play, as mentioned above. Overall, the novelty of the story line, the fantastic artwork, and the whimsical nature of the overall setting combine to make a uniquely enjoyable and entertaining adventure game that should provide many hours of fun.

-- Frank D. Nicodem, Jr.