• Secret of Evermore Review

    Secret of Evermore is an action RPG released in North America on the first of October in 1995, and to PAL regions in February the following year. It stars a teenaged boy and his pet dog (both named by the player) who end up stuck in the world of Evermore and must work together if they wish to ever get home.

    We open up to a black and white flashback of Podunk, USA, 1965. A malfunction in a lab atop a mansion results in a massive flash of light. Then we jump thirty years to the present where our main character and his dog are leaving a theater. I wonder what's playing?

    The dog spots a cat, chasing it into the mansion we just saw, now run-down and abandoned. They come across the lab hidden at the top (I guess an underground lab was just too mainstream) with a large machine inside. The dog begins chewing the wiring, activating the device and sending them to the land of Evermore. Maybe he should have gotten a goldfish.

    Since Secret of Evermore is an action RPG, that means there are no random battles. Fighting happens in real time with enemies coming at you as they would in an action or adventure game. The only difference is you gain experience points through fighting them and level up as time goes on. The battle/item system is pretty much the same as in Secret of Mana, where you charge your weapon before you attack.

    Evermore is split up into four parts: Prehistoria, Antiqua, Gothica, and Omnitopia. Each area represents a moment in time. Prehistoria speaks for itself, filled with cavemen and dinosaurs, and you find your primary weapon being a bone; Antiqua, based in ancient antiquity, has a Colosseum and pyramid; Gothica is all medieval castles with a strong dragon population; and Omnitopia is a futuristic space station that you get to see a little bit of before escaping to Prehistoria. Your pet also changes form in each of the four areas going hand in hand with the location's theme, from a prehistoric wolf to a robo-dog.

    You can switch between the human or his dog at any time in the game with the AI taking control of who you're not using. With the human AI you can set him to be defensive in battle or go all out; with the dog, you can have him attack any nearby enemies or search for alchemy ingredients.

    Alchemy replaces the usual magic systems that you'll find in other RPGs. Instead of magic points you need to find ingredients for your Alchemy Formula. Alchemy Formulas are given to you from other alchemists that you meet throughout the course of the game. It's recommended that you set your dog to search for ingredients and only have him ready to attack anything that moves for bosses and stronger enemies you meet out on the field. If all goes well your dog will lead you to a spot where an alchemy ingredient is being held. Otherwise, he'll just be sniffing at the ground all day. You can also manually control your dog to search, whether you're controlling the main character or his dog. When you have the right ingredients you'll be able to cast magic on enemies.

    There are four kinds of weapons in the game: sword, spear, axe, and a bazooka. I'm not even kidding, you actually get to fire a bazooka! Of the first three weapon types, there's a version in each area of Evermore. As they are used, the skill level rises, up to level three, and with each level increase you get a new charge attack you can use in battle. Some weapons are also needed in order to remove obstacles such as plants and rocks.

    Another thing that changes across regions is currency. In Prehistoria they exchange talons for goods and services; In Antiqua it's gemstones; Gothica, gold coins; and in Omnitopia we have credits. If you find yourself in one region with only the currency in the previous region, don't worry. There are people who will convert your currency over to that region's so you'll be good to go.

    Cons: Overall, this game just bores me. I like the world and how it's setup, but there's nothing that really pulls you in. The main character's personality is just bland and his biggest traits from what I can see is looking like Archie from the Archie comics and sprouting off about B movies when he finds himself in a new situation. I know this is back in the 16-bit era, but come on, we got Final Fantasy VI one year before this came out. I know Square Soft has a more interesting protagonist in them.

    Searching for ingredients is a tedious experience. It makes me long for the simpler magic systems in other RPGs than saying, “Oh, wow, this is so cool and original!” or whatever they were going for. It felt like they were trying to go for something different and in the end it just wasn't executed that well.

    Another thing that annoys me about this game is the save feature. You can only save your game at a certain point and you have to perform an action before you can do it. In the first town you find in Prehistoria you have to pay a man to sleep in his inn and then the game gives you the option to save. Further on in the game you have to shop for items (you don't have to buy anything so that's one silver lining) and only then can you save. Would it have been so hard just to have a save icon or something? This is just ridiculous. It feels like they're trying to be different and standout when all they're doing is making things unnecessarily complicated.

    Conclusion: It's a game with an interesting setup, but lacks a hook to pull you in and keep you interested in the characters, and for an RPG the characters are just as important, if not more so, than the world. It tries to be unique and just comes across as a chore in the end.

    Try it.

    For more reviews please visit ToriJ's Video Game Reviews.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Secret of Evermore Review started by ToriJ View original post
    Comments 2 Comments
    1. chionos's Avatar
      chionos -
      I'm a rare fan of SoE. I think it's fun. I like the sounds of the game, I like the dog, I like the alchemy. But I'm also someone who actually likes a bit of grinding.

      I always thought it was a very unique game (because it is) that maybe was a little lightweight compared to other square offerings, and also lacked some polish, but was fun and different nonetheless.

      I would actually love to see a modern sequel to SoE. I should have mentioned that in the sequel thread.

      Edit: I should clarify: it's a unique game because of the way it combines its various elements. It is not unique in the way of inventing new systems or anything like that. It borrows heavily from other games, specifically Secret of Mana.
    1. Spooniest's Avatar
      Spooniest -
      It's a very interesting update to the Secret of Mana engine, one wonders what would have happened if that game had been completed the way it was originally envisioned.

      I never cared much for the protagonist, though. The B-movie quotes he repeatedly spams are all made-up. Would it have been to legally dodgy to have him quote real sci-fi shows and movies? That seems weird.

      The dog is...well, a dog. There's not much done in the way of building his character, because how do you characterize a dog?

      The weapon system is handy, I like that part, but the Alchemy system is just as tedious (if not moreso) than Secret of Mana's magic system, requiring a lot of grinding to get the spells up to a decent level of power.

      Final Note: When I first played the game, I was stuck in Antiqua because I couldn't figure out the puzzle where you have to switch to playing as the dog and jump across the bridge. That puzzle was incredibly obtuse, but I solved it without a guide after almost a year.
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