David OReilly is probably best known for making unique animations, but recently he has begun developing video games. In 2014 he released his first game "Mountain", where you simply observe a mountain without controlling anything. This may sound a bit odd, but Mountain received critical acclaim and laid the foundation of "Everything."
As soon as I heard that Everything promised to let the player control anything from the smallest atom to the largest galaxy, I instantly put up my guard. There have been way too many times where developers promise gamers the ability to do something you've never done before only to leave them disappointed. Fortunately for us, where other developers have failed, Everything delivers.
You first start off by entering a name. You are then put on a random planet controlling a random object. For me, I started on an ice planet controlling a polar bear. The very first thing I noticed (which is also the same that other people noticed in the official trailers) is that a lot of the animal's movements resemble stiff somersaults. At this point, I'm thinking what is going on? But I pushed through and began exploring my surroundings. After discovering a few different types of trees and a few standard animals, I started to get that feeling of dread that I may have been lied to again, but that quickly went away when I learned how to ascend and descend into different levels. These levels range from microscopic to being out in the middle of the universe surrounded by different types of galaxies. Only once I realized the true scale of Everything did I really start to appreciate what was happening.
Now even though you can get as small as the smallest atom, Everything never becomes overwhelming. While there doesn't seem to be true objectives, you will find yourself collecting objects from certain classifications (animals, trees, viruses, spacecraft, etc) to try to complete a collection. Whenever you go to a new area the map appears to be as far as the eye can see, but when you move around you'll start to actually see that you're really in a confined space. This limits the number of objects that you'll find and encourages you to move to another area. The awesome thing about this is that if you visit the same type of area twice in a row (ice continent, city continent, grass continent, etc. ) there will always be something new, as long as you haven't completed your collection.
A major aspect of Everything are the readings of philosopher Alan Watts. As you progress there will be opportunities to listen to different audio clips that talk about the different ways the world is connected. These readings support the underlying theme of the entire game and have a nice calm presence that makes for an enjoyable experience.
Everything took me about 2.5 - 3 hours to complete. Once you finish, you can keep collecting objects in your game or start a new game plus. Everything relies heavily on experience, which isn't a bad thing, as long as you know what you're getting into. If you've enjoyed games like Journey, flOw, Flower, or even the Katamari series, then Everything is definitely worth your time.
4.5 out of 5
Thank you to Double Fine and David OReilly for providing the code.