Everblue 2 was the first Diving game from Arika to get a world-wide release. The first game in the series, Everblue, was only released in Japan and Europe, making it impossible to play or obtain through stanadrd means in the US. Fortunately, although Everblue 2 is a direct sequel, the story is perfectly understandable if played as a stand alone game.
Leonard Delphino (Leo), a professional and reknowned salvage diver, finds himself stranded on a small carribean island after a storm. With only one way to raise funds he joins a team of local divers, the Amigos, who are salvage diving in the area. Putting his skills to use recovering objects, finding treasure and solving mysteries on the ocean floor, he is hampered by a corporation known as SeaDross – also salvage divers but responsible for significant damage to the local ecology. Of course, when the corporate divers disturb something they should not have, his skills will be pushed to the limit restoring the artefact to save Pirate Island.
As with Everblue, most of the game takes place underwater. Leo uses sonar elements to locate salvage, fill his bag and then surface to trade the items to allow him to buy better equipment or complete quests. Unlike his home seas, however, these waters are home to a range of dangerous or poisonous creatures, including sharks, rays, and eels. Avoiding these creatures, and remembering the need for appropriate equipment like fish repellant and anti-venom adds more complexity to the game.
Salvaging involves diving to the ocean floor with distinct sonar elements equipped (clay, metal etc.) When the sonar is fired, it returns a distinct ping depending on the location of an object it is set to detect, and using the sonar pings you track down the object and locate it for your sack. You can also explore wrecks, where objects you can lift (depending on your strength and the sack you have) will highlight in yellow. The first time you find an item it must be identified to find its value, so early in the game there is an element of chance about what you collect or discard.
On land the game offers a simple point and click interface. It is purely text-based, and the only real land sound effects are background music. By talking to islanders, you can access requests, comments, or occasionally minigames. However underwater the game really comes to life. It is presented in a first person view, but the sea creatures are excellently modelled, and react to your presence. The sound effects for the ocean, including Leo’s regulator and sonar, are excellent, and exploring the sunken wrecks can be genuinely eerie.
It has an excellent range of subquests, as the islanders request favours, set tasks, and Leo steals jobs out from under the corporation. There are several minigames, including racing, a salvage competition, photography and more. Over all of this, the game has a detailed story (an element notably missing from the first game) with a mystery to solve involving pirates, a sunken ship, a missing artefact and, of course, the corporation.
So how does it compare to the first game? The underwater graphics have improved, and the controls are more responsive, allowing limited movement up and down, which is a great addition. The extra sonar elements and good range of side quests and minigames give the game a broader feel, as does the increased number of areas and larger cast. The game’s story is more detailed, and the characters better drawn, which gives the game more depth on land as well as the ocean. In all, this game gives the impression it is what the first game could have been with more refinement.
There are a few flaws in the game however. Treasure respawns, so if you need money you can salvage the same valuable item many times. The amount Leo can lift underwater with certain equipment can get ridiculous (e.g. a car), and exact positioning is required to lift certain objects. Some of the quests can be difficult to work out, and we did explore the wrong area for at least one.
Overall, Everblue 2 is a game which is mainly suited for exploration and treasure-hunting fans, as it offers a wide area to roam, and a variety of free-form challenges. It has a good story, but the background may be slightly thin for RPG or mystery fans, and action fans may dislike Leo’s lack of weaponry. It should also be suitable for most age groups, although some moments (mainly involving eels and sharks) may make players jump. However as a rather unique game this is worth a look by most gamers, especially if found on budget.