Each night the dreams come. Dreams of fantastical creatures and vistas that could only exist within the realm of the imagination. But when the morning comes and the eyes open, they dissipate like wisps of fog. But tonight's dream is different. It seems that you have been granted a gift: the gift of time. Or at least that's what that white-haired giant popping out of the ground has told you. But if your dreams are a place where anything can happen, that means it's also the place where everything can become undone. This world is a riddle that only you can solve. And you'd better, because there is a rot and the black wind is blowing. The Everloom is an artistic adventure game by Lucas Paakh that takes players on a trip through a forest of imagination.
Move with [WASD] or the [arrow keys], and interact with the environment with [Spacebar]. There are people to talk to and items to discover, which will be added to your inventory in the upper right, then used automatically when needed. Explore the world, help its inhabitants solve their problems, and hope you'll live to see tomorrow's sunrise.
The Everloom is an aesthetically gorgeous game. The 16-bit graphics are beautiful, with some particularly impressive parallax scrolling effects being a highlight: Mode 7 ain't got nothing on this! The prose and dialogue are trippily evocative, with players getting a real sense of the game's fantasy world and characters through relatively little dialogue. The Everloom is a work that let's the scenery do most of the talking, and it does, calling to mind a variety of gaming classics: a little King's Quest here, a little Chrono Trigger there, a sprinkling of MYST... not to mention a few Robert Frost quotes. Paakh has always been a developer who wears his influences on his sleeve, and he definitely knows how to pick the right elements from each.
That said, how well said elements combine is mixed. While the story is charming enough to keep players forever-intrigued, much of the gameplay boils down to listening to a character give a portentous statement, delivering the correct item to them, then getting another portentous statement and another item for your troubles, rinse, repeat. The Everloom sometimes feels like what a Final Fantasy game would be if it were nothing but fetch quests, and it's not clear if that's a compliment. Compounding this problem is the size and scope of the game world, and the CPU intensity required to display it. It's always a little eye-rolling when game's with graphics from 1995 make your modern-day computer run laggy, but in a game where every next step of the plot is several screens away, it can be a bit unbearable. Whatever happened to letting players lower their graphical quality? (Turning off the Hardware Acceleration does help with this problem).
But if The Everloom is occasionally confounding in mechanics and in plotting, it is a fascinating piece of gaming, and compares favorably to the best of Paakh's able canon, indeed. One can only hope Paakh will someday show us more of this dreamworld, because if not, I may have to write some fanfic. And yes, that is a threat.