Slow gameplay from all the resting, the map didn't help much, repetitive puzzles, bad voice acting, annoying music.

User Rating: 5.9 | Evergrace PS2
I had just come back from a weekend with my family, anxious to try out the new computer and to finally be able to play EQ with my husband. Unfortunately, and as much as he tried, his efforts to network both systems were in vain. With both computers back in the shop to solve the problem, we decided to rent a few games to pass the time and enlarge our gaming horizons.

One of them was EverGrace.

Long ago, on the Edinbury continent, there lived people with a strange mark known as the Crest. Many calamities and unexplainable events took place around those who bore the Crest. Soon, people began calling it the cursed mark, and feared and avoided anyone who had it. What is the meaning of the Crest and what is the destiny of those who yield it? That is what the main characters want to find out.

You play as two different characters separately, a young man named Darius and a girl called Sharline, both bearers of the so-called Crest. They find themselves inexplicably in a strange land only known to them as a fable... until now. On their quest to find the way back to their own world, they discover that they were called to this strange place by a mysterious entity.

The gameplay is rather simple: you run around and attack creatures, collect money and buy some armor. The game uses a pressure sensitive system for attacking: if you press the button lightly, you will deal a small amount of damage, press it hard and the damage output will be much better.

There is a power bar you have to pay special attention to, as it represents your fatigue. As you run around, you get tired and your power will go down, so don't even think of attacking something without stopping for a few seconds, your hits will be pretty much nonexistent. Having to stop to rest every so often makes the gameplay slow and tedious.

You can get a wide range of armor and weapons, each of them with special attributes and their own unique properties. You don't learn magic spells, magic is a characteristic of certain pieces of equipment, and it's usable while you are wearing them.

Each creature has also its own features, and while some weapons may deal critical hits, others will barely scratch them and sometimes even heal them. It's up to you to discover which weapon works best on each type of creature. Remember to fix and upgrade your weapons and armor, as they will wear out from usage very quickly. Don't use them until they're ruined, it will cost you a pretty penny to repair them if you do. Small upgrades and frequent reparations are the way to go. You may even change your armor's color if you want your character to be more fashionable! You will find these options in the shop.

There are many puzzles in the game, most of them to be solved with the help of the special attributes of your equipment. Unfortunately, these puzzles and their solving method cause the game to become repetitive fast.

For example, in one of the dungeons, I had to open locked colored doors to find the exit. The first part of the puzzle consisted in finding the right 'spell' on my armor to cast on a flashing orb in the middle of a room. This situation repeated itself three times, for a fire, ice and lighting orb. This would lead to the appearance of three mirrors in another room, which lead me to the second part of the puzzle: push the mirrors (red, green and blue) to combine into the colors of the locked doors. This wouldn't be so difficult if it wasn't for the horrible creatures that spawn once you move a mirror once. Most of the time they would knock me off the circular platform and it was game over.

Getting to the rooms after unlocking the doors was another problem... the portion of the map (another weakness of the game) that shows on the screen is of no help, and I wandered lost through hallways and dead ends for a long time before finding the right spot.

Although the characters move smoothly and are detailed (as are weapons and armor), the scenarios could have been a lot better. I personally found them rather bland. I also noticed that when there are more than three enemies on the screen, the image 'lags'. And the camera angles don't help at all while fighting or looking around: walls, pillars, trees and other structures will often block your view making it impossible to spot your enemies and horrible to control your character.

The story builds up as you progress, but most of the time you will never learn as much as you'd like or need to, and will be left with the impression there is something more you're not being told. Eventually, you do find out that there is a crazy scientist who is kidnapping people and performing experiences on humans with the purpose of understanding the Crest. Sounds interesting, but it really isn't. Interaction with other characters is also limited; there isn't much variety on what they have to tell you. Which brings me to the voice acting and sound.

After two visits to the shop, I couldn't stand the shopkeeper's voice anymore. Maybe it was the pitch or the tone, maybe it was the repetition of "Is this ok?" every time I checked on a price or an upgrade. The lip sync is bad, or in most cases it just doesn't happen and the character that is supposed to be talking has his/her mouth closed. And the voice acting could have used a little more of well, acting! There are too many occasions where the characters seem deprived of feelings when they're supposed to be transmitting them, and I think sometimes the words didn't match the subtitles.

I turned the sound off shortly after starting my adventure mostly because the music got on my nerves right from the title screen. Even though it changes throughout the game according to the area you are in, it doesn't get any better. That ensemble of voices is repetitive and annoying.

EverGrace doesn't explore the potential of the powerful system that is a Playstation 2, and judging by my experience, it seems the game was unfinished by the time it was released. The only strong point I found in it was the FMV sequence in the beginning. Unfortunately (and contrary to many opinions) I found the things I disliked in this game to be more numerous than the ones I liked, which is reason enough for me to believe that this game should be left where it belongs: on the shelf. At least I was able to say in the end "Good thing I only rented it!"

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