GDC 2024: Hands-On Preview of Everdeep Aurora for Nintendo Switch

Exploring a mysterious underground society in this Game Boy Color era-inspired adventure.

By Angela Marrujo Fornaca. Posted 04/02/2024 18:05 Comment on this     ShareThis

Nautilus Games, a two-man indie game studio based in Madrid, has been hard at work on its debut project, Everdeep Aurora. The Game Boy Color era-inspired title follows the feline protagonist, Shell, on her journey in search of her mother. An ongoing meteor shower has made the world unsafe to inhabit, forcing the population far into the Everdeep below ground. After waking one evening and finding a letter from her mother, who has gone missing, Shell begins her downward journey to find her. As Shell continues to explore the depths below the surface, she encounters strange, eccentric, sometimes friendly, sometimes not-so-friendly characters and unravels the secrets of the Everdeep.

I had the opportunity to try Everdeep Aurora at GDC 2024. I was intrigued by this game from the moment I learned about it; I loved the art style, the cat protagonist, and was curious about its non-combat-focused gameplay. One of the members of the game’s publisher, Ysbryd Games, walked me through my introduction to the Everdeep and explained Shell’s abilities. Her mode of traversal is by drill, and the depths are tile-based. The drill has a power meter, and when it runs out it will be significantly less powerful and take more time to break through rocks. Luckily, charge stations appear pretty regularly throughout the environment, so you don’t have to worry too much about running on empty. The player will also be able to significantly increase their charge meter capacity over the course of the game.

The Everdeep is expansive and there are many possible routes you can take to explore the area. However, it’s possible to dig yourself into a dead end or an area you don’t yet have the ability to fully explore, but there’s a helpful NPC on the surface that you can call to your aid to bring you back up and start your dig anew.

In the short amount of time I had with the game, I encountered a number of secret areas that I was able to explore to an extent, but that I would’ve had to return to later once I’d unlocked new abilities and items. There are also a number of denizens of the Everdeep that have requests and problems you can help them with, and helping them will get you items that will allow you to help other characters later on. For example, one character was asking for spring water, which would give me a bouquet in return; that bouquet could then be given to another character, who would give me something else in exchange, and so on.

The game’s character and environmental designs are lovely and whimsical. Shell herself is tiny, draped in a black robe, and has giant oversized eyes and whiskers that give her a distinct (and adorable) look. The other creatures of the Everdeep are all fellow animals of different shapes and sizes; some are eager to help Shell while others have more of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” mentality. Environments range from mystical and beautiful to eerie and creepy, with neat little details like light shafts, pools of water, cobble streets, and hanging foliage.

Controls are simple and the game played smoothly, with digging feeling very satisfying. Unfortunately, immediately upon starting the game and speaking to the first NPC I encountered, the game crashed and the Ysbryd representative had to restart the game. Apparently I was the first person at GDC to encounter the bug so it at least wasn’t happening often, but I do hope that by the time the game releases it and any other bugs will be gone.

Everdeep Aurora looks like it’s going to be a fun experience with a lot to explore and a good amount of replayability due to the sheer number of things to discover beneath the surface. I’m looking forward to uncovering the secrets of this underground society and its strange inhabitants, and reuniting Shell with her mother. Everdeep Aurora releases on Nintendo Switch in late 2024.

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