Ever Foward is a new narrative-driven puzzle adventure from the studio that gave us My Time At Portia, Pathea Games. My Time At Portia was a stunning sandbox RPG that went on to win many awards, and for good reason, so how does Ever Foward stack up? There's a new demo available that you can try right now and we ourselves spent some meaningful time with this title and we've got to say, it's a haunting journey that is easy to get lost in.
A quick disclaimer: I'm terrible at puzzle games and because of that, I usually steer away from them. That being said, My Time At Portia was an incredible experience so I knew I had to try this out and I'm so glad I did. I tend to get stuck in my head a lot and that's why there is just this block against puzzle games. I overthink, which causes me to make mistakes, which then usually results in me getting frustrated and eventually moving on. With Ever Forward, however, I felt nothing but calm and invested.
Ever Forward will task players with becoming a twelve-year-old girl named Maya, a young girl trapped between the edges of reality and dreams. Maya must dig through her own subconscious in order to effectively recover her own memories while forcing her to confront her deepest fears and her most longing sorrows. It's deep, especially when you go into the game knowing you'll be playing a 12-year old. That depth paired with progressively harder puzzles while bouncing between the two realities is incredible and makes for an adventure that stands on its own and brings a calm that is still rooted in the shared human experience of sadness and regret.
Maya must make her way through dangerous sections of this in-between world and the creative stylings around parts of her memory really work beautifully to offer a dualistic experience: dreams vs. nightmare, fear vs. bravery, discovery vs. total loss; it's simple and in its simplicity lies genius.
The first time I solved a puzzle in the demo, the game swept me off of my dreamlike feat and rooted me firmly in the first Maya memory unlocked. During this sequence, you can feel Maya's pain and not being able to understand her mother's absence due to her young age. From her mother turning away to return to work, Maya turned wistfully to a hanging swing - a simple childish ask that was taken away as the dream sequence continued and Maya was once more faced with a new puzzle.
The bounce between realities felt fluid and not rushed, giving a unique sense of calm why playing through each stage. Accompanied by a floating cube, Maya's journey through her own mind is one that is memorable and free from convolution.
As expected in a game about puzzles, the puzzles themselves get progressively more difficult. Similar to that of Portal, what seems to be simple at first glance can end up being anything but. There aren't any sarcastic murderous AI beings here, but there is another enemy: the human mind. Our perceptions, our fears, our losses; they can accumulate to swallow us whole, a feeling that can be felt at any age and Ever Forward respectfully broaches that universal experience without demeaning the character for her age or making the player feel forced in any way.
The art style is simple in a way that is stunning but also uniquely indie. The devil is in the details of each puzzle, in each memory interaction, and each embolded step. The Ever Forward demo definitely had me, as a player, wanting more and I genuinely look forward to seeing the whole adventure when it arrives later this Summer.
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To learn more about Ever Forward, check out the official Steam page here. It's there that you can also find a free demo to see if this adventure will resonate with you!