Have you ever thought what life’s perspective would be as an ant? What about that feeling of an alien planet floating through space? Or maybe a turd skimming the earth? Everything challenges players to control the Universe while simultaneously challenges them to rethink their outlook of the Universe itself.
Everything starts off the same for everyone- players begin as a small bright speck in the void of darkness. After a few moments of movement, players form into anything. Now when I say anything, I mean anything. A buffalo, seaweed, and rock were the first few items I transformed into during my various game plays. Throughout the traversing, you find various sound bites where the philosophy of Alan Watts play while you explore the Universe. Though there is no direct story within Everything, Alan Watts’s vignettes offer deeper-than-expected internal contemplating that may have permanently adjusted my perception of everything. While the words of Watts, a late British philosopher are decades old, Everything found a meaningful way to present his argument in an exploratory and intriguing fashion. I kept delving deeper to continue the narrative – a testament to Double Fine and David OReilly for nailing the spirit of Watts’s work.
While Everything relies heavily as a narrative sandbox, the largest emphasis is its exploration. Regardless of where you start in the Universe, players have the ability to jump from one entity to another. For a few moments I was able to be a tree, then jump to a deer, then a snowball, and even an ice crystal. If I began to lose interest in the world around me, I was able to grow and shrink into different perspectives.
If I started at that same tree, I could delve smaller into a leaf, then a beetle, or an atom. If I was motivated to grow out my perspective, I could shift into a continental landmass, then a planet, or a solar system. Within each perspective, there are scores of creatures and objects that I was able to inhabit and control. Each sphere of influence also gave a distinct environmental feel. On the molecular level, for example, I immediately felt small and miniscule – simply floating around immensely larger items forcing me into their shadows and challenging my importance. On the other spectrum, as a solar system, I knew the vastness that encapsulated me – millions of planets with billions of creatures built from trillions of molecules weighed heavily with the responsibility it entailed. I was absolutely captivated by this mechanic. After a few jumps into various creatures, I would expand out a few times to a new planet – an entirely new world of creatures, molecules, and structures waiting to explore. I couldn’t help but think over and over again that Everything invoked what No Man’s Sky wanted to do – create a Universe worth exploring. Everything knocked this out of the park.
With this, Everything also entertains the notion that each entity has some sort of consciousness – forming ideas and sharing those thoughts onto you. A boulder, for instance, imposed on me that it was really happy to be “alive”. An atom, conversely, had a near suicidal thought, contemplating its existence and importance within the cosmos. The vastness of ideas, opinions, and noteworthy comments, then allows for your own character to form its own thoughts. Though creating your own “thoughts” didn’t grab me with the perceived randomness of it, I was enthralled by the commentary of other beings. Would this skyscraper be happy? How is this whale interpreting the world? If that ameba had a bad day, how would it express it? I eventually became as intrigued by the narration by Watts as I was by seeing how the beings distinguished themselves.
Though much of this experience is weaved around existential thoughts, Everything still offers opportunities for whimsey. While exploring the cosmos, you’re slowly building a catalogue of beings that you’ve encountered. Eventually you can plop creatures and items into whatever perspective you’re currently at. Once I honed into the silliness of this, I quickly threw dozens of cows in space just for the sheer purpose of making myself chuckle. While venturing through a much smaller sphere, I populated several galaxies next to cats for a very Men In Black moment. This feature was a fantastic touch, allowing players to not only explore but to actively create and craft the environment.
Even with the exploration, narration, and creation within Everything, the visual fidelity takes a huge hit. My first run of the game started me off as a buffalo. Movement was simple, but instead of showing the animal’s legs moving, the creature was tumbling over the terrain. The best representation of this would be if you had a buffalo figure with no moveable appendages, and you’d roll it over and over again to simulate movement. I was immediately befuddled by this strange visual and creative choice, nearly to the point of shutting off the game and concluding that it simply was not for me. Luckily, I persevered and shortly after pushing through this, pondered if this was intentional. Was Double Fine making a statement that everything within the Universe is just moving through their own spheres? A snowflake pushes through the vastness just like a monkey or an asteroid? Maybe we’re all just action figures to some higher consciousness that views us as nothing more than collectables. Or maybe I’ve been thinking too much about this… which seems to be the existential goal of Everything.
The Verdict: 8.6 Out of 10
Everything is a deep, thought-provoking experience that challenged me to contemplate my own existence. The philosophical argument crafted by Alan Watts perfectly complements the traversal through the depths of reality. Though this is not for everyone, players who have a small inkling of intrigue can get lost in this Universe in the best way possible.
For more information about what the score means, check out our official review scale.