Remember Everywhere, that ambitious-yet-vague open-world game spearheaded by former Grand Theft Auto producer Leslie Benzies? It’s OK if you don’t. After all, the project had only the briefest of reveals during last year’s Gamescom Opening Night Live presentation. However, after half a year of silence, developer Build A Rocket Boy (BARB) has peeled back the curtain ever-so-slightly on what the game is with yet another short teaser trailer. And with previews of the game publishing online, Everywhere sounds like it has a game within a game reminiscent of Assassin’s Creed Infinity or Inception.
At the time of its reveal, Everywhere was pitched as an open-world adventure game with seamless multiplayer. The intention, according to BARB, was to “create this open world that can be built out in every direction” while tackling questions of “what it means to represent yourself digitally.” If you’re getting metaverse vibes, you’re probably not that far off, as assistant game director Adam Whiting said at Gamescom Opening Night Live 2022 that the team wants to build “not just a place to play, but [to] watch, share, create, hang out with your friends, and so much more.” Still, what this actually looked like in practice remained a mystery. Until now, that is. BARB dropped a short clip on its YouTube channel showing off MindsEye, a “new blockbuster game set in a unique world” with glossy visuals, explosive shootouts, and intense car chases.
According to a press release, MindsEye will only be available inside the free-to-play title Everywhere, which “will be in the hands of players this year.” MindsEye specifically is this action-adventure game “set in a world of futuristic corporations, conspiracy theories, and sinister new technologies.” Think of something like Quantic Dream’s Detroit: Become Human with more action and you’ll get the idea. What I think of, though, is Inception or the live-service hub Assassin’s Creed Infinity, which will connect several games to be this “single entry point” for new players to get into the storied sneak-stab franchise.
But what the hell is this really? Aside from the vagary of it being a game within a game, the press release notes that Everywhere and MindsEye are “two distinct triple-A products,” with the latter being an episodic adventure that will eventually feature a multiplayer component as well as a single-player campaign. Because Everywhere is this creation platform for players to build out their own experiences, similar to something like Dreams or Roblox, MindsEye can be deconstructed and reconstructed to be something else entirely. Which sounds kinda cool, except previews of Everywhere seem to suggest otherwise.
Everywhere starts with you creating a customizable character and sending them out into the hub world of Utropia, a metropolis with towering buildings and copious activities to participate in. Here, you can check out a variety of gameplay experiences, from Quake-like laser deathmatches to futuristic arcade racing simulators to, eventually, MindsEye. You’ll also be able to create your own activity as well as play a curated selection designed by other players. It sounds complex and interesting, though maybe a little too late to the party.
Take IGN’s preview. While the gaming publication only got to see a small snippet of MindsEye in action, IGN’s Matt Purslow did check out an extensive look at the whole of Everywhere. Initially confused by what the creation platform was supposed to be, Purslow left equally confused after five hours with BARB. Purslow noted BARB’s “impressive ambition [for a] massive scope,” but he said that the mishmash of three different games—Dreams, Fortnite, and Roblox—rendered him perplexed about Everywhere’s focus and identity.
“It’s a game creation tool but also a full, ready-made game,” Purslow said in the conclusion to his preview. “Its shooting and driving modes look underwhelming, but there’s also a seemingly impressive action game in there with AAA production values. It’s a social hub and entertainment platform that may or may not be a metaverse. It is everything, everywhere, all at once, and I’m already concerned that its ambition may exceed its grasp. And with the seemingly more flexible Unreal Editor for Fortnite having launched to an entrenched audience of 500 million (who already spend over 40% of their time in player-created spaces), I fear Everywhere may already have lost the race before it’s even approached the starting line.” Ouch.
There’s also Polygon’s preview, which shares a similarly wary sentiment. After spending some time with BARB in the studio’s Edinburgh location, Polygon’s Oli Welsh thought Everywhere was “a pleasant place to be.” However, he noted the core gameplay was pretty basic and “not that much fun.” While the art style also looked “rather bland,” something Welsh found “intriguing” about Everywhere was the game’s simple-yet-powerful creation tool ARC-adia, which allows players to build game content without requiring coding skills. Still, Welsh worried cramming too much into one game could leave it feeling flat.
Kotaku reached out to Build A Rocket Boy for comment, but a company spokesperson said there are no interview opportunities available at this time.
So, yeah, it sounds like there’s potential for Everywhere to be something compelling both mechanically and socially. However, according to the previews, the game seems to lack a real sense of individuality in a space slowly becoming oversaturated with game-creation platforms. Only time will tell how successful Everywhere will become, but at least it won’t use the blockchain or NFTs at all. Hey, you take those silver linings wherever you can get them, right?