Reviewed by Josh Brant
Developed By: David OReilly
Published By: David OReilly
Category: Simulation & Adventure
Release Date: January 10, 2019
Sometimes when I’m thinking about or writing a review, I come to a point where it’s really hard to describe exactly what I was just playing. That’s definitely the case with developer David OReilly’s simulation title Everything now available on the Nintendo Switch, and it’s probably unlike anything you’ve played before. It’s hard to explain, but this is one of those rare experiences that actually made me want to be a better person, and will make you think long and hard about the universe and our place in it.
Everything is a title that’s truly about everything that exists, and the philosophical thoughts we may have. There’s not much story progression this is the type of title that is much more of an interactive experience than a video game. In Everything you take control of some sort of object or organism which includes animal life, plant life, and even full landmasses, planets, galaxies, and then all the way down to the molecular level.
All you are doing is moving around and interacting with other objects. You can talking to some of them, including inanimate objects or other animals and plant life, and sometimes they have something to say. There are many questions about life in general that are brought up during the course of your playthrough, but as far as gameplay goes, you are pretty much doing whatever you feel like.
The way it works is that you control a certain organism and start to get the gist of just moving around and finding progression areas labeled as story icons. You can interact with them and they will give you some narrative elements, and teach you what you’re able to do during your playthrough. Most of the story in Everything or gameplay revolves around just learning what you’re able to accomplish in the world and what you decide to do after that is all up to you.
There will be many times where you want to get to the next story point or figure out what the next tutorial is. Everything can actually play itself and you can even customize how it interacts and moves. Many options are available for tailoring the experience to what you feel is appropriate for how much controlling interaction you wish to use. When you’re controlling some sort of organism you can move around and possibly join up with other similar organisms, such as a big herd of animals and move along with them. Also, you can ‘Dance’ with certain animals in order to strike a friendship and eventually maybe mate.
After you get a comfortable feeling for that animal, plant, or whatever, you have the ability to ‘Ascend’ or ‘Descend’. This basically means you are either transferring to another of a similar type, or growing to something bigger or smaller. For example, going from an animal to a giant tree, to a landmass, to the planets, to the stars, and even to whole galaxies that you’re able to actually move. Once you Ascend to a certain level, you loop back over and go back to the smallest level, and then you can work your way back up yet again.
While you’re progressing the story and getting more tutorials, you’ll also be finding these different sound clips given by Alan Watts from 1965 through 1973. He gives out lectures on different life concepts, the meaning of life, and all types of thought provoking questions posed through it. Everything is the type of game that will definitely have you questioning the existence of everything.
There is a great amount of content in Everything with many different types of animals, plants, landmasses, and more to take control of and explore. Your progress is always updated to include which objects or organisms you’ve been before and you can even work on becoming every single possible object in the entire game over the course of playing it. There’s even a New Game+ mode once you’ve finished Everything and you can start from the beginning, but have more freedom with all the abilities you earned right from the get-go.
Basically, Everything is many things and at the same time, nothing. It’s really up to you to decide how you want to experience this title and how you want to play it. You can do a lot of exploration or try to become every possible creature and object, or you can just collect the different sound clips, the decision is truly yours. If you just want Everything to play itself you can set the AI to how you want it to behave and what’s in the world, then just let life take its course.
Appropriately, for such a meditative game, the music is very atmospheric and enthralling. If you prefer contemporary classical music or ambient soundscapes in your video games, it may resonate all the more with you. I felt the music was one of the stronger areas of Everything and showcased what the experience is all about. Graphically, nothing especially stood out, but it was impressive to have so many different control components to all the different organisms and objects you could control.
Overall, Everything is a very tough game to review, mainly because it’s a totally unique experience that shouldn’t be rated just on being a video game alone. Every single person who plays this will have a different experience and I can only answer to myself by saying I hope we get more philosophical games to make us ponder what being a better person is all about. It can be somewhat slow, repetitive, and unclear at times, but you’d be hard pressed to find a more addictive experience about discovery and freedom.