Article / Highlight · Preview

Everafter Falls Hands-On Preview: Charm Attack

Fishing with your pet at a peaceful stream in Everafter Falls.

In an expo hall full of promising game titles, one of the most charming I got to play was Everafter Falls at the Akupara Games booth. Of the many times I passed the booth last weekend, I never saw the game’s stations empty, which felt like a good sign. Once I spent some time in the game’s world, I understood. I’m no stranger to farming and sim titles. While the OG Harvest Moon introduced me to the genre, Stardew Valley is the title that truly hooked me. There’s a reason I participated in four podcasts just in 2023 that featured music and conversation about ConcernedApe’s hit, Coral Island, and more.

But as the market becomes more saturated with farm sims and life sims, it’s only getting more important for new games to differentiate themselves. That applies to innovative gameplay and progression, but also the presentation. While some devs hit way too close to their source material — looking at you, Super Zoo Story — plenty forge their own graphical path, like Sun Haven and Coral Island. I’m pleased that the debut title from developer SquareHusky, Everafter Falls, also accomplishes this. With a clean and colorful visual style that makes me think of some of the more impressive Flash-made animations and shows of the day, it’s incredibly charming to look at. With bold outlines and solid colors with subtle dimension, it’s basically what I wish “pixel smoothing” for old games actually looked like. The animations are adorably bouncy, and even the font choices strike that rare balance of “fun but still readable.”

Tending a full field of crops with a pet and watering drones.
I am SUPER here for watering drones.

Animals Crossing

While I only played the introductory portion of Everafter Falls, I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen. And also slightly… disturbed? The game opens with your character crossing the street on a rainy night when a speeding vehicle smashes into you, flinging you off the screen. Thankfully, the animation is too comically over the top (it’s more ridiculous than anything), but I still wasn’t expecting that! Suddenly, you wake up in a bed and learn your character was in a VR-like simulation of a place called “Earth,” as your dog friend, Dog, tells you. Your character’s reality is a town full of animal villagers that sometimes don’t understand your interest in that weird simulation.

The game wastes no time in semi-name-dropping Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing to get the obvious inspirations out of the way; I don’t mind some fourth-wall-breaking gags, so I’m good with it. The simulation angle also conveniently seems to affect the user’s cognitive function, which gives the villagers an easy in-universe reason to re-introduce themselves to you. I appreciate this, because often in these games, your character is new in town, so I’m interested to see how the story plays out by letting you play as someone already part of a cozy community. I only met a half dozen of Everafter Falls‘ animal friends as I tried it, but they were each cute in their own ways. From the duck running the animal shelter to the penguin pair that manages the post office and flightless outfit pigeons with head-mounted propellors to deliver mail, the creativity behind each villager was quickly apparent.

The town itself is as charming as its inhabitants, too. I only explored some of it, but Everafter Falls‘ in-game map is exceptionally useful: On the left side of the map are villager avatars that you can highlight to center the map on each friend’s current location, and building and town landmarks are on the right. It was really easy to get my bearings, which is important in games with so many characters and locations, especially when they approach you like, “yeah, just head over to the museum” as if you know where it is.

Beyond the useful map, I got a peek at some new ideas that Everafter Falls brings to the genre, too. One that I liked is outside Freya’s shop; she sells seeds, but outside there’s a “discount rack” with a limited, rotating selection of reduced-price items. I don’t know how a seed packet can really be “damaged,” but it was an especially welcome feature early on with limited funds, and it seems like a way to keep shop offerings fresh throughout the seasons.

A shop with shelves of seeds in Everafter Falls.
Retail shelves of seeds are a cool way to do an in-game shop!

Factory of Seasons

The bit of farming I got to showcased some fun innovation. Your character has a pet that you get to name, and this backpack-wearing sorta-cat is both adorable and helpful. In a move that I find refreshing, Everafter Falls doesn’t use the expected “till the ground with a hoe and water with a watering can” system. Your pet does all this, and even better, you can marquee-select a grid of squares for it to prepare for you. We know your pet can level up in various ways, so I imagine this ability will enable larger selections as you progress. Either way, your pet will dig up the land, get it ready, and water, either one spot at a time or multiple. Then, you just plant seeds. It’s a fun twist that also makes the task a bit less repetitive.

As I mentioned above, Everafter Falls isn’t shy about name-dropping some games that it “isn’t” like, but at the same time, their influences are clear, and so far, they work well. One of my favorite things in both Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing is donating to the local museum. It just satisfies the collector in me and my desire to catalog and list things. Everafter Falls‘ museum seems extensive: You can donate found materials, crops, bugs, and more. I know this because the museum isn’t a blank slate, but each pedestal shows you what should go there, which is a very player-friendly way to approach this so you can see what all there is to find. Everything is categorized and grouped, so you see a section for frogs, one for veggies, and even the bugs are displayed by type AND effect, like the separate little corner for prismatic-winged insects. It seems safe to say if you like the collecting aspect of those games, Everafter Falls has you covered!

I was told the game has a decent focus on dungeons and exploration, but I didn’t get to experience that, so I don’t know if it’s “more than Stardew” level or a major focus like the Rune Factory series. But since the controls in the game feel very responsive and fluid, I imagine it will play well and be an ideal place for Everafter Falls‘ split-screen co-op feature.

Crafting menu showing a fishing drone in Everafter Falls.
Hold up, even automated fishing? Sign me up yesterday.

These Subheadings Make No Sense, Do They?

As you can see, I left PAX East with a very positive first impression of Everafter Falls. The charming presentation, characters, and playful dialogue had my attention right away, and the intuitive controls and UI made jumping into this cute world easy to do. The more I poked around town, chatted with the villagers, and started getting a sense of the scale of what may be possible in terms of farming, crafting, and collecting, the more I could see spending a lot of time with the game when it releases.

We don’t know exactly when that will be, as Everafter Falls‘ Steam page simply says “coming soon,” but hopefully we’ll hear more information soon from Akupara Games. Until then, I have some other farms to take care of, so if you’ll excuse me…

Be part of the conversation and join us on our Discord, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Mike Salbato

Mike Salbato

Mike has been with RPGFan nearly since its inception, and in that time has worn a surprising number of hats for someone who doesn't own a hatstand. Today he attempts to balance his Creative Director role with his Editor-in-Chief status. Despite the amount of coffee in his veins, he bleeds emerald green.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.