Even the Ocean review for PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Platform: PS4
Also on: PC, Switch, Xbox One
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Developer: Analgesic Productions
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

As I wrote recently about another game, usually when I think of Ratalaika, I think of games that are medium (at best) quality, and require little to no effort to get an easy Platinum trophy. There are some exceptions to that combination, but for the most part, I?ve found that description captures their output pretty well.

Consequently, it means that when I play something like Even the Ocean, it stands out.

I mean, the latter half of that description is still accurate: it?s not at all hard to get the Platinum here in less than ten minutes, despite the fact the full game would take you at least five or six hours to finish if you do it properly. In fact, the game practically encourages speed-running — not only does it helpfully highlight options like fast text and skip through scenes, one of its gameplay modes is literally called ?Warp”, which allows you to skip straight to the ending, from which it?s just a matter of visiting a couple of places to get the trophy to pop. Given that you don?t get to see how everything plays out when you do that, it makes for a pretty unsatisfying way to get the Platinum, but it?s still there if you want it.

What makes Even the Ocean remarkable (relative to other Ratalaika games, at least) is that the longer journey is also worth checking out, even if you?ve already gotten all your trophies. And even more than that, what makes Even the Ocean particularly remarkable is how well it blends together a couple of disparate elements that wouldn?t normally go together.

At first, the game seems like it will be your standard retro platformer. After a long intro cutscene that explains the setting, you?re set down in a 2D world where you?re exploring a broken-down power plant. There are a couple of tweaks to the formula here and there — something involving different types of energy and keeping them balanced and whatnot — but for the most part, you think that Even the Ocean will be just like countless games before it.

Then the visual novel/adventure/RPG elements kick in.

You soon find out that there?s a lot more to Even the Ocean than just platforming. It?s built around a long story about a futuristic city called Whiteforge, and the main character, Aliph, has to save it from destruction. There?s a lot of reading involved in this half of the game, but thanks to strong writing and a good cast of characters — plus an engaging plot — it does a good job of keeping your attention.

On top of that, there?s a lot of exploring to be done. Not just within those platforming levels, but also in an overworld map, which you soon learn holds many secrets, and within levels, as you carefully search for objects that move the game and the story along. It doesn?t take long for it to become apparent that Even the Ocean is much more ambitious than your standard platformer, to the point that it goes beyond one genre.

Luckily, the game is more than able to pull off the genre-bending. There aren?t too many other visual novel-adventure-RPG-platformers out there that I can think of, but I can confidently state that Even the Ocean makes a pretty solid case for why there should be more of them.

Ratalaika Games provided us with an Even the Ocean Ps4 code for review purposes.

Grade: A-