Everslaught arrives at an interesting time.
As VR fans are left pondering the PC platform’s future in the face of Quest’s success and the advent of PSVR 2, here comes a Steam-exclusive (for now) roguelike. Not only that but developer MobX seems pretty satisfied with the game’s early performance, shifting over 1,000 copies on launch day. And there’s over 100 user reviews — mostly very positive — to back that success up, too. All of this is modest by traditional gaming standards, sure, but an encouraging beacon of positivity in the SteamVR marketplace.
So, what’s all the fuss about?
If you’ve played recent flatscreen games like Hades or even VR hits like Until You Fall, the bones of Everslaught should be pretty familiar to you. You run a gauntlet of rooms, fighting off hordes of enemies to earn loot like better weapons and money and upgrade your personal stats. You might make it to the end of a ‘Blood Run’, as the game calls them, or you might die. Either way, you’ll be earning points towards persistent progress to help push you further in your next run.
Even in Early Access, the game gets the core of the roguelike foundation right; there’s a hub world where you can store, repair and upgrade cherished melee weapons, and filling canisters up with the blood of your enemies turns each run into a careful balancing act. You can spend that blood on using more powerful attacks, for example, or healing yourself.
That’s all well and good, but it’s pretty much what you’d expect from the genre by now. Where Everslaught really sets itself apart is in its zippy arcade gameplay and sheer numbers of enemies.
Melee combat is very simple. Everslaught doesn’t have the choreographed structure of Until You Fall nor the physical drive of Blade & Sorcery; you’re free to waggle your hands and rack up hit points on an enemy’s head. While I can appreciate the focus on fast-paced action, I am hoping MobX adds some depth to the sword combat, as I quickly settled into a routine of erratically waving my hand in the direction of an enemy’s head to kill them in seconds.
Some enemies do have armor to dispose of first and others will explode a few seconds after impact, providing a little variety. But there’s no blocking enemy attacks or major benefits for taking slower, stronger strikes, and it didn’t seem to matter if I was using the flat of my blade or the sharp ends. It’s more akin to waving a foam sword around when it is holding the genuine article.
But don’t despair; that doesn’t ruin the Everslaught experience. For starters, MobX counters some of that ease with brute force. At times the game pours enemies into the arena at an excessive rate, and you’ll need to keep on your toes and swing wide to stay alive. It’s brilliantly desperate, putting your back against the wall and piling on the pressure.
More importantly, though, the sword isn’t your only means of attack. Everslaught also plays up to some superheroics, with a Batman-esque hookshot you can use to propel yourself towards enemies or certain markers. It works by raising your left arm up, palm facing the ground, and pulling the trigger. Throwing yourself through the air and landing with a sword strike is immensely satisfying, as are last-minute arrow dodges or escaping enemy explosions, and you’ll quickly work it in as an essential part of your combat routine.
But, better, yet, twisting your left arm when raised will also summon an incredibly powerful hand cannon. It costs blood to use but it really packs a joyous punch, sending enemies flying in the way you wish a good swing of your sword would. It also becomes a necessary companion in those moments when facing a sea of enemies, with a wide spread allowing you to thin the herd.
These two elements help push Everslaught past its initially basic combat, but I’m hoping to see MobX expand on them further. As it stands, the game offers arcade thrills but doesn’t reach the same intensity of a low-health level of Until You Fall. New levels and story sequences are going to be added over the course of Early Access, and I’m hoping all of that adds more substance to Everslaught before its full launch in late 2022. As it stands right now, though, there’s some mindless fun to be had here.