Coming at an odd time in the Nintendo 3DS lifecycle, Ever Oasis is not a blockbuster title that rivals the anticipation of something like the handheld's newly announced Metroid: Samus Returns. No, this is a new venture from a developer called Grezzo that has previously handled ports of Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask for Nintendo's current portable, and it’s because of these that the publisher had enough faith in the studio to handle making its very own game. As it turns out, Nintendo's trust wasn't misplaced.
Ever Oasis starts with a simple, albeit original enough, plot that stars a petite humanoid creature referred to as either a Child of the Great Tree or a Seedling. The name of the player character’s race in question gives way to the narrative, which features the player-controlled protagonist and his or her ability to bring life and habitable areas to a world that’s been overrun with a dark and mysterious force known simply as Chaos. The number of these bastions has declined rapidly as the seedlings have fallen or become lost, and it ultimately comes down to the player character to journey off to build and strengthen their own little village.
Grezzo’s latest goes about doing so through a hybrid game mechanic of sorts that blends the Animal Crossing-esque task of managing an oasis by building it up and finding new residents, while grinding to improve it through action role-playing elements that task the Seedling with taking on a number of different (and corrupted) animals and monsters that must be defeated in order to return to their original form. It's an interesting balance to maintain, but the limitations of the 3DS make the venues available for exploration feel flat and limited.
Additionally, wrapping up tasks to appease villagers is rewarding – albeit a bit of a grind at times. In that light, Ever Oasis doesn't execute on its design all that wonderfully, but the buildable homestead present throughout is what's sure to keep roping the user in. The basic gameplay design of building the in-game village is far from difficult to comprehend, as the Child of the Great Tree must spark the interest of hopeful inhabitants through their actions, convince them to stick around by completing tasks, help them build their shops, gather supplies for them to sell, and then reap the monetary rewards.
As previously stated, the desire to continue building one's oasis is really the motivating factor behind the entire game, but that's not the only enjoyment that can be pulled from the final product. The quests themselves are challenging, and require users to have an understanding of how to combat their foes. Dodging when necessary, striking quickly, and making use of available allies (of which there are two hand-picked companions accompanying players for each expedition) are crucial to progressing through the title's various dungeons.
As a result of these allies, the fast travel option becomes quite useful as users find themselves in need of swapping out their chosen A.I. friends in order to solve various puzzles scattered about the land. This effectively eliminates the need for excessive backtracking, much to the delight of those that care little for revisiting the so-so vistas of Ever Oasis. Plus, quickly completing these expeditions will trigger stat growth for the Seedling and his chosen companions, which in turn allows players to grow their character and their oasis in unison.
All in all, Ever Oasis is a neat addition to an already stacked library of games for the Nintendo 3DS. It does something different from other RPGs currently on the device through its action-styled gameplay and town-growing focus, and the end result is a unique and enjoyable romp. It's not without its shortcomings, which appear to emanate from a lack of hardware power and the tedious nature of the various tasks – the latter of which will even appeal to some players. Even then, Grezzo has done a great job doing something new without an established license, and it appears to be a very promising first step for the studio as it continues to grow.
Ever Oasis is now available exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS. Game Rant was provided with a physical copy of this game for review purposes.