Everlight: Of Magic & Power sounds like it should be an action role-playing game, but instead it’s the latest adventure from German developer Silver Style Entertainment. In it, you play as an ordinary teenager named Melvin. One day, as you’re browsing through a candle shop, you’re offered a chance to learn magic, and you jump at the chance. For your training you’re transported to a town named Tallen, and you learn that in order to become a magician, you have to conquer your fears -- and also cure the people of Tallen from a mysterious curse. To help you out, a tiny flying elf named Fiona is assigned to you, and she acts as your guide, sort of a snarkier version of Tinkerbell.
In case you can’t tell from the description, Everlight isn’t exactly a serious adventure. For example, the curse on Tallen causes its townspeople to do odd things at night and then not remember them in the morning. And so the “upright” blacksmith starts boozing, the monk starts gambling, the nice little old lady turns into a dominatrix, and so forth. You also have to deal with carrot trees, werepoodles, polka-dancing mice, and more. The tone of the game is lighthearted and fun, and while I didn’t experience any big laughs, I frequently smiled and chuckled.
The puzzles in Everlight are all inventory-based, and they’re usually pretty straightforward. Generally, you find an object, which allows you to solve a puzzle, which gives you a new dialogue option with a character, which allows you to find another object, so you can start over. That means finishing the game is more about repeatedly talking to people and searching through locations than it is about taxing your brain, which is too bad. As an example, early in the game the town librarian complains about the mice in the library. Right outside the library you find a cat, and it doesn’t take a great leap of intuition to figure out that you somehow need to lure the cat into the library. And the object used for the puzzle isn’t exactly tricky, either.
If Silver Style Entertainment sounds familiar, that’s because they’ve been developing games since 1993, but their track record isn’t great, mostly because their games are a little rough around the edges (in fact, one of their games, The Fall: Last Days of Gaia, had so many problems that it never got released in the United States at all). Everlight is no different, and you can tell right away by looking at its system requirements. When was the last time you played a simple point-and-click adventure game that required a 2.6 GHz processor? Never? Everlight is slow to do everything (it takes over a minute just for the game to start up), and it doesn’t make up for the slowness by providing excellent graphics, or even coming close. Plus, the dialogue is often long and rambling (Silver Style really needed to have some sort of editor come in and pare it down), and so the pace of the game suffers, especially when you’re stuck, and it takes a half hour just to go everywhere and talk to everybody.
On the plus side, Everlight sports an excellent interface. The game is played using a third-person perspective, where you left-click to perform most actions (such as moving Melvin around and talking to people), and you right-click to examine objects. That’s reasonably standard for third-person adventure games. What elevates the interface in Everlight is that it comes with a built-in hint system (Fiona can give you clues if you ask for them), there’s a button that allows you to see the hotspots for your current location, you can use an overheard map to jump to anywhere in Tallen, and when you click on something far away from Melvin, he automatically runs to it. No double-clicking required! Want more? You can actually save as many games as you’d like, and you can name the saves. That doesn’t sound like anything special, but surprisingly few adventures actually include those features.
One final note. While the tone of the game isn’t serious, and while the game has a Teen ESRB rating, I’d say that its content is geared more towards adults than children. There are lots of references to sex in the game (like when Fiona speculates that mages live in tall towers to compensate for something), and many of the jokes are going to go over the heads of children (like when Melvin spots a portrait of Dorian Gray). Nothing in the game is explicit, but between the content and the meandering pace, I just don’t know how well Everlight would work for family play.
And so, overall, I’m giving Everlight a rather mediocre score. Some parts of the game work well (like the interface), but others drag it down (like the slow engine), and so instead of the great game it could have been, it’s just a nice, pleasant game. But the puzzles work well enough, and it has just enough going for it to bring back fond memories of LucasArts adventures, and so it’s a reasonable enough purchase, especially at its $20 suggested retail price.