Recently Nintendo hosted events in London and New York City, and we were fortunate enough to attend and grab a little bit of time with one of the 3DS’s lesser-hyped upcoming titles, Ever Oasis.
For a game that launches in just over a month, we’ve heard and seen surprisingly little of Grezzo’s first independent title. If you’re not familiar with Grezzo, its team was responsible for the stellar Majora’s Mask 3D and Ocarina of Time 3D as well as the The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes. Having proven its chops with some of Nintendo’s most beloved classics, Grezzo is cutting its teeth on something entirely its own, and it seems as though it has been worth the wait.
Ever Oasis feels like equal parts Fantasy Life and Legend of Zelda. You control a party of up to three characters, each of whom have their own strengths and weaknesses. We're told your party is interchangeable, as you can recruit new characters from those living in your oasis. Tethu, the main character, is the only staple in your party. Each character has a class, such as warrior or mage, but Nintendo wasn't quite ready to spill the beans on how job details work or if there's any kind of upgrade path or class change system.
Combat is fluid, fast and fun, with a dedicated light attack and hard attack button, as well as a special skill which is unique to each character. Each character is strong against certain types of enemies and weak against others, and we suspect this and the game’s various intricacies could be a focus at this year’s E3, just before the game releases on 27th June. What we did see is that combat is nuanced and requires skill. Instead of just finding an enemy and hacking away at it, you'll need to make use of your dodge, ranged skills and melee attacks to claim victory.
The demo had us helping a traveling merchant named Jasper find their tools that they lost after being attacked by a group of monsters, called Spikydillos. After getting the details from Jasper we were set loose on an expansive desert that was more reminiscent of something one might encounter in Zelda game, which makes sense given Grezzo's pedigree. While we're familiar with Grezzo's recent achievements, it's worth noting that Ever Oasis producer Koichi Ishii was also involved in the creation of Secret of Mana, an excellent SNES-era RPG. The few environments we had the opportunity to explore included a desert and a cave, and both were delightful, featuring bright colours that really pop and match well with the cutesy art style; they were both backed by some of the best-sounding music we've heard on the 3DS so far.
After a short time afield we came across the monsters that robbed Jasper and took them on. As we mentioned before, combat required we actually pay attention to the enemies' next moves, as a misstep could cost you dearly, and we did indeed die our first time out. Nintendo representatives on hand helpfully pointed out which characters and skills would work best against our quarry and we were able to emerge victorious, but it was nice to see that characters are not simply clones of one another but have unique skills that will benefit you greatly depending on your situation.
After dispatching the monsters we recovered the tools and returned them to Jasper, where we were informed we could now improve a shop within our Oasis. Speaking of shops, you'll be responsible for restocking some of the shops in your oasis in order to bring more travellers to your humble patch of land, which will in turn increase the possibilities for more quests and party members. You'll need to keep the habitants of your oasis happy by making sure they have the amenities they require, keeping shops stocked and handling their requests as they arise. Some NPCs, like our new friend Jasper, have unique skills that can help you further explore the world around you, such as the ability to dig. Unfortunately, our demo ended here and we were unable to see what further town-building aspects might be tucked away in the game, but we reckon it won’t be long now until we have all the details.
Despite being such a short demo we came away optimistic about Ever Oasis. It’s a cute RPG with excellent combat mechanics that are reminiscent of some of the 3DS’s absolute best games. We highly recommend keeping an eye on Ever Oasis; it could be the next big game on Nintendo’s venerable handheld.