This early access title from Onevision Games is an extremely atmospheric, philosophical experience. You find yourself in a mysterious land with no memory or explanation of why you
are there. As you begin your journey you encounter various items in the world that start to provide you with a vague understanding of your purpose and the journey you have ahead of you. There is no clearly defined direction for you to take as you wander through the fantastical architecture of Essence, with the game providing you with a linear path surrounded by nooks and crannies that allow for some exploration and deviation from the general direction you find your self being drawn towards.
The game is split up into chapters, not all of which are released yet but no additional purchase will be required to play the other segments of the game. The currently available version features The first chapter, or act, which is split into sub chapters that take you into different surreal environments as you move through the game. The structures and landscapes you find yourself moving through are steeped in mystery and a sense of serenity. There is no violence or any form of combat within the game and any gameplay elements appear in the form of interacting with objects via touching them or moving close to them. In places you will find yourself following strange balls of light or coming across simple puzzles but overall it is an extremely relaxing experience that provides intrigue without overloading a player with challenge.
Due to the lack of any substantial gameplay it is likely that this is a type of game that many may not enjoy particularly. With the game being based entirely around wandering, exploration and philosophical musings it certainly won’t be for everyone. However as a calm experience to enjoy for the feelings it creates, it does very well.
Essence features an extremely serene colour scheme that blends well with the surreal environments that game places you in. There are very few places where intense colour is used and overall the visual effects produce a light and almost heavenly atmosphere in many of the sub chapters. This adds to the peaceful and unhurried feel of the game and it’s very difficult to feel anything other than calm while playing. The textures themselves are fairly basic but the lack of complicated detail in the environment combined with the well thought out colour scheme and the epic structures means that the overall appearance of the game still feels impressive. As the player you feel very much lost to begin with, with a desire to find your way through this strange world.
The sound design compliments the visual features well, maintaining the sense of serenity throughout and enhancing the experience that Essence provides. Calm and unobtrusive music blends in with the general sounds of the world in a fashion that welds this strange and fascinating environment together wonderfully.
All in all, Onevision have created an extremely intriguing game that generates interesting emotional responses and provides you with a varied and fascinating world to wander through. Based on this first chapter Essence holds a great deal of promise and the developer roadmap looks well thought out and attainable.