Some games just cut right to the chase. No set up, no indulgent intro, just a fast cutscene and you’re tossed in the deep end. Evertried is one of those games. Here you’re placed in the role of a cute little undead creature with a scythe who has to climb “The Tower”. See, in this world, lost souls that haven’t proven themselves worthy of going to either heaven or hell can choose to brave the horrors of The Tower to obtain their eternal reward. It’s far from easy, but your character was evidently a warrior of some kind in life, and that gives them a distinct edge to tip the odds in their favor.

Gameplay takes place on a 7x7 isometric grid, and is centered around a combat system that feels like a hybrid of turn-based and live action. Each floor has a handful of enemies to dispatch, and they only move when you do. To strike them, all you need to do is position your character next to them and take a step towards them, but you potentially run the risk of them retaliating if you don’t plan this out well enough. Since you can only take three hits total and healing is hard to come by, it’s important that you plan out a few moves ahead and try to turn the AI against itself. As you get more familiar with enemy patterns, you learn how to best manipulate your foes into either triggering traps or opening themselves up for an attack from you.

The live action part comes in with the Focus Gauge at the top of the screen. Every time an enemy gets hit—whether by you or a trap—or dies, the gauge will fill up a little bit more, and if you can max it out, it’ll level up. A higher gauge means defeated enemies will drop more shards, which are then used as currency to buy upgrades and skills in the shop you occasionally visit. The catch, however, is that the gauge is slowly but constantly decreasing, which lights a fire under you to dispatch all your foes promptly lest you lose gauge and potential shards as a result.

In practice, this makes Evertried a delightfully engaging experience, one part strategy, one part puzzle game. The Focus Gauge doesn’t decrease at a fast enough rate to feel discouraging, but that constant pressure pushes you to think fast on your feet and stay on the offensive as you chase foes down. Just when it feels like things are getting stale, you’re thrown a new boss fight every 10 floors and then a whole new set of enemies and traps to contend with if you make it past the boss. A typical run of Evertried usually doesn’t take much more than 10 to 15 minutes, which makes the experience feel nicely compact and quite easy to slip into just one more try.

If we were to name any complaint, it’s that the core gameplay in Evertried can feel a little stale after extended sessions. Skills and traps mix up the way you play somewhat, but you’re ultimately still confined to pressing one of four directions for the whole game, which gets a little samey given enough time. Still, we’d give this one a recommendation; there’s lots of replayability, the concept of its gameplay is something we haven’t seen before, and (most importantly) it’s fun.