Review

Everything Review

  • First Released Mar 21, 2017
    released
  • PS4

Black holes and revelations.

Imagine taking a philosophy class where a brilliant, engaging, charismatic professor opens your mind and helps you see the world like you never have before who also pauses every few minutes to play a Frank Zappa album. That should give you a rough idea of what it's like to play Everything. It's a game that manages to convey profound beauty and a sense of one's place in the universe that's periodically undercut by a compulsive need to interject a sense of twee and abstract randomness. It's hard to tell how seriously you're supposed to take it all.

Everything is an interactive art project that allows you to transform into nearly any object you find, from planets all the way down to microbes. There are no traditional goals, and except for one particular area, Everything has no hard-and-fast boundaries. It's just you and the universe, with nothing standing in your way.

The dissonance starts from the very beginning. At the outset, you're a bear in a vast woodland full of creatures living out their lives. They move around by tumbling end over end, stiff as boards, like they're auditioning to be new Tetris blocks. After spending some time learning the basic controls, you can roam around freely, “sing” to other creatures and things, learn how to hear their thoughts, and figure out how to talk to them to gain their trust and move in groups. It's the game at its most playful: rocks, animals, and houses will grouse about a friend who's a jerk or cheerily go on about what a nice day it is all while doing perpetual faceplants to get around.

Eventually, one of the plants, animals, or objects you encounter tells you that you can explore things on a smaller scale--and thus, you learn the Descend ability, which allows you to embody a different creature on a lower plane of existence. That’s neat by itself, but the real magic occurs when you realize that you don't have to stop there. Embodying something like an insect is step one. Step two is inhabiting miniscule things like pollen or hair. You can then continue downward to atomic structures, and finally subatomic particles. The trick goes the other direction as well. A bear can Ascend and become a sequoia tree, which can become an entire continent. A continent can Ascend to become a planet, which can become a sun, which can become a galaxy.

The ease with which you can become one of a diverse set of objects across multiple planes of existence feels like a technical marvel. Everything's long-term memory is impressive as well. You can spend a solid hour exploring atoms in a blade of grass. When you eventually ascend, the game will remember the group of ants you corralled into service nearby, no matter how far you go.

If your greatest gaming dream is to assemble a street gang made up of two teapots, an eyeball, a saxophone, and a banana that misses its sister, Everything is the game for you.

Everything is at its most powerful when it provides humbling, awe-inspiring moments of scale, held even further aloft by sound bytes of the late British philosopher Alan Watts that arise along the way. Watts' ongoing narration may be the game's strongest core component, as it provides a sense of neo-spiritualist context to everything you see and experience. Exploring the very building blocks of reality is powerful on its own, but Everything achieves something deeper with the gentle, playful reminder that this, too, is us.

How, then, do you marry that with the ability to hop down the street as an refinery's smokestack, or talking with a monkey about how dumb his friends are? The answer: You don't. There’s an element of wacky, dadaist humor to Everything that, at its most absurd, brings back memories of Katamari Damacy's endless amusement; being able to roll the most random things up in a ball and watching them squirm around, making noises until the ball is big enough to swallow planets whole. You can't roll things up here, but if your greatest gaming dream is to assemble a street gang made up of two teapots, an eyeball, a saxophone, and a banana that misses its sister, Everything is the game for you.

No Caption Provided

Therein lies the fundamental issue: there is no unifying theory of Everything. If the point is to invoke a sense of existentialist zen, it accomplishes that, but it subsequently undercuts the accomplishment with a sense of lame, abstract humor. If the point is to invent a wild playground where everything that exists has a self-centered consciousness all its own, it’s that as well--in which case, it's almost taking Alan Watts' ideas to Looney Tunes levels of ridiculousness. When those two elements are at odds, the game seems to lose all meaning.

That's a grave disservice, too. More than a few games are able to deliver this brand of random crazy on a far more enjoyable, technically polished scale than this--the very “ending” of the game feeling like an inadvertent homage to the intro of every LittleBigPlanet game just solidifies that fact. But the number of games able to so effectively recontextualize how you think about your place in the universe in an interactive medium is paltry. That crazy game of playing as random stuff is disposable. That game of realizing we are all one is vital. A combination of the two thrown together, Everything becomes staggering in its ambition--and yet deeply disappointing.

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The Good

  • Amount of things to inhabit is impressive
  • Alan Watts' narration is perfectly suited
  • Sense of scale is beautifully executed

The Bad

  • Animal movement is terrible for immersion
  • Recurring silly tone undercuts the poignant sense of wonder

About the Author

Justin Clark spent five hours with Everything before reaching what could be construed as an ending. Though really there are no endings. There is only a series of quantum transitions from state to state, with infinite possibilities of form, all distinct and yet all the same and familiar, a vessel that may change shape but carries the same content. A complimentary code for the game was provided by the developer.
27 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Talavar

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Edited By Talavar

If your greatest gaming dream is to assemble a street gang made up of two teapots, an eyeball, a saxophone, and a banana that misses its sister, Everything is the game for you.
The above comment represents the mindset you have to have to actually enjoy this heaping pile of crap.

Imagine playing a game that was actually a game. Now Imagine playing "Everything" after you played that game.
Next: Imagine eating a stuffed crust pizza. Now imagine eating a pile of hammered shit after you ate that pizza.
This is the basic comparison.

This game would be fantastic if you like to try to convince others that you're some sort of existential Guru, and actually have some sort of fake interest in it.. Outside of that, it's about as mind numbing as drinking a gallon of formaldehyde.

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DudeBroPartyYo

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Edited By DudeBroPartyYo

Animal movement is that way on purpose. def getting this at some point. Narration is awesome

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zura_janai

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Edited By zura_janai

gamespot was copy/pasting the number 9 on every game review.

since mass effect 4 they changed it to 6.

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Gaminsincepong

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Holy sweet golden fried baby Jesus! A PS4 exclusive that didnt get a 9? Im going to cut myself.

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Gelugon_baat

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I just watched Gerstmann of Giant Bomb turn Earth into a turd in this game.

Now I have seen EVERYTHING.

2 • 
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RussellMartin

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I watched the clip. This look strange and somewhat interesting. I could actually listen that that guy talk about existence all day! If this is a $20 game (not sure) then it might be worth it to hear the lecture.

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Gelugon_baat

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Edited By Gelugon_baat

One would think that if some of the animals are going to move like Tetris blocks, their reproduction activities could have been presented as them coming into contact with each other like Tetris blocks.

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deactivated-5f7f1f15951f0

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Slapping an animated GIF of a bear onto a block and tumbling it head over feet is too jarring an image, especially when it's used on everything. It's like trying to tackle an abstract concept while someone is punching you in the stomach every 30 seconds.

This concept fully fleshed out would be incredible. Being able to spy and/or jump into the shoes of anything you can see in the environment would be quite an experience. One second you could be a wolf hunting for food; once spotted, you could become prey with a mouse click an try to evade the wolf. If you can put the player in the position to realize what's required to survive, you force them to learn not to take life (whatever species or form) for granted.

When you have that level of interaction and immersion you gain a whole new level of appreciation of life itself.

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Gelugon_baat

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@mattcake:At least this game has the excuse that animals cannot be mo-capped so easily. Mass Effect: Andromeda doesn't have that.

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Gelugon_baat

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Edited By Gelugon_baat

No kidding about the animations for the animals. Here, look at this.

I have the impression that if the 'animals' are replaced with Tetris blocks, the gameplay won't change at all.

P.S. Apparently, the reviewer also had the impression of Tetris blocks. What a coincidence - one that speaks ill of the game.

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Ryan_Som

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Well, great. That just proves it. Everything is terrible.

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drumjod

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"Black Holes and revelations" - I like the Muse reference!

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GirlUSoCrazy

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Cool, I want to try this

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FuBi2k

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Not really a game but more of a toy that wants you to think about existential curiosities and question what sentience means to you, inspired by Watts' recordings while experiencing different viewpoints in nature. If you take it as what it is then it's a neat little diversion but do not expect gameplay. So definitely not for everyone!

My only complaint about the presentation of this experience is the tumbling of the larger creatures. The flowers, trees, landmasses, birds and sea creatures grow and animate nicely, insects and small mammals at least jitter but larger animals tumble. It appears as though it's some kind of bug but was clearly done on purpose. Perhaps something else to ponder..

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cetaepsilon

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Can't believe to find myself torn between this and Mass Effect

6 • 
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Stelios

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Congratulations on your monumental success of reviewing everything in one single review. Now you're past that, nothing else remains.

However, I fail to see how everything is limited to a singular thing, a console none the less. Even more worrisome is that you gave everything a 6. It seems nothing you do, feel or sense will ever excite you.

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TRMDYL

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Edited By TRMDYL

@stelios: life is generally a 6/10 thing. until we die.

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mattcake

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Same animator that worked on ME:Andromeda I see.

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LouiXIII

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@mattcake: That's a low blow lol

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Ripper_TV

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The game is only impressive on the surface. There's NO ANIMATION in the game. It does feel like it was made by a single person.

It is just a collection of crudely modelled objects, nothing more. You can't REALLY interact with anything in any way.

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RaveNRolla

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I still don't get what it's about. You can just aimlessly inhabit different lifeforms and objects and just "be" them for a while? There's no goal, no gameplay?

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Setho10

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Edited By Setho10

@RaveNRolla: That is pretty much it. There are no goals, no fail states, no leveling, no levels and the whole thing wraps around so that the smallest plane of existence is also the largest, hence there is no progression whatsoever outside of trying to inhabit everything in the game. Think of it more like an interactive art installation than a game.

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cloglin

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@RaveNRolla: I'm confused in exactly the same way.

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xantufrog

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Edited By xantufrog  Moderator

I was really confused by the video for this on psn. Glad I could read a bit here

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LouiXIII

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Just watching that trailer above got me sleepy...

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Gelugon_baat

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@louixiii: If you were to experience everything else about the game, you probably won't wake up until the next century.

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LouiXIII

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@Gelugon_baat: I see lol

Back to BoTW xD

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Everything

First Released Mar 21, 2017
released
  • Linux
  • Macintosh
  • Nintendo Switch
  • PC
  • PlayStation 4

Everything is a conciousness simulator and open universe exploration game by David OReilly.

6
Fair

Average Rating

9 Rating(s)

5.3

Developed by:

Genre(s):

Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
Everyone
Alcohol and Tobacco Reference, Mild Language, Violent References