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Everblue (PlayStation 2) artwork

Everblue (PlayStation 2) review

"You start the game as Leo, a rookie diver on the Caribbean island of Daedalus with this mysterious death in the back of your mind, and a lot to learn about diving."

It is hot and you live far away from the sea. The local swimming pool is full of screaming kids. You contemplate spending the day standing under a cool shower, but that would be a waste of precious gaming time. You don't want to have to move fast, you don't want too much excitement, and you really don't want to have to think too hard. Deep sea diving in the Caribbean would be fun if only you had the money to get there, but there is a cheaper alternative. Everblue is the ideal game for a day like this, though only if you live in Europe.

The game begins with a fully equipped diver exploring a cavern. The controls are easy to understand and use, and you slowly swim forward using your flashlight to see into dark corners. There is a precious artefact ahead, and as you move closer, breathing heavily with excitement, suddenly a shark attacks and the cavern collapses around you. Then it is twenty years later, and you start the game as Leo, a rookie diver on the Caribbean island of Daedalus with this mysterious death in the back of your mind, and a lot to learn about diving.

Initially, the graphics will hit you like a crashing wave. On land they are dreadful, but then you're not going to spend much time on the only island and single town. The game uses a simple point and click for all movement and the characters are small and hardly significant, and since the perspective is first person, you never get to see Leo. However all this changes once you get underwater, and although not resplendent with colour and life, the sense of really being a diver is well realised. Different species of fish swim by and can be photographed for your collection, things can be picked up from the ocean floor and later identified and sold or given to different people for a range of rewards. You use sonar and a boat exactly as a real diver would. You upgrade your equipment getting better wet suits and more powerful flippers and a bigger sack to hold heavier things.

Upgrading is the goal, but it is expensive. Once you start increasing your air supply and the depth to which you can dive, you can find new and better places to explore and spend as long as you like tracking down every piece of treasure. There are the natural limitations of the diver: stay submerged too long or go too deep and you will run into problems. All the information you need about your current status, the depth, the air in your tanks, the weight you can carry and the items you have, are clearly displayed and easy to understand. Once you access the more complex locations (one is a huge Titanic like cruise liner, another a seventeenth century pirate galleon) managing the restrictions can be tricky.

It might not sound that exciting to swim around the ocean floor listening out for the ping of your sonar, but it's strangely fulfilling. There's even a degree of tension that can get your heart racing when you're deep inside a wreck and only have a small amount of air left and you've just picked up another heavy object which makes your air run out faster. Can you make it to the exit before you run out of air? The music will change, your instruments show critical red and blood pounds as your vision clouds... But there's no penalty, other than having to start again back in town.

Inside a sunken ship spider crabs scuttle along the floors and brightly coloured fish cruise amongst the broken decks and corridors as you hunt for precious items. A light shines around any object that you can acquire and everything that isn't nailed down can be hefted into your diver's sack. Each item is completely realistic and it's very addictive filling your sack with such things as a Viennese vase, a bottle of Tequila, an oil painting, a child's doll, a sailor's chest (that you get unlocked to find more items), or a cannonball, a cutlass, an old flintlock pistol and even a surgical saw. There are no bones or bodies to find and no attacking sharks, but swimming through the wrecks, seeing the evidence of life long gone and the detritus of lost hopes and voyages gives an emotional edge. There are mysteries to solve as you piece together the story behind the missing diver from the start of the game, but it's the lure of all this treasure that keeps you motivated.

People in the town will give you quests to fulfil: it might be to find very heavy objects (eventually you'll be able to lift a cannon and even a grand piano when your diving sack is fully upgraded!) or to find 20 different bottles of alcohol, or a special suitcase that is all that's left of a drowned husband. When you complete a quest you might get befriended and gain additional accolades all of which are recorded for you. Really it's a collection game: can you collect all furniture, all bottles of booze, all beds, all pictures, all vases, and so on. There's even an auction room where you can sell off excess booty and buy rare items and even diving equipment. You'll be able to upgrade the sonar too, and with the additional option to trace metal objects you can find more ships as well as sunken chests on the sea-bed, which also yield valuable goods.

The melancholy peacefulness that pervades the wrecks, the desire to solve the mystery of the missing diver, and the lure of scavenging will keep you submerged for a very long time.


threetimes's avatar
Community review by threetimes (July 12, 2011)

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zippdementia posted July 12, 2011:

"and since the perspective is third person, you never get to see Leo"

Do you mean we never get to see anything except the back of his head? It seems like in third person you WOULD see something of the character you are controlling.
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threetimes posted July 12, 2011:

Um, no, you don't see him at all, just an arrow on dry land and I guess the rest is first person perspective. Got my perspectives mixed up. :(

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