Evochron Mercenary Review

Looking for a completely immersive gaming experience? Get lost in space, with Evochron Mercenary.

What do we seek, when we arrive home following a hard day in the office / classes / down the coal mine / walking the streets? Escape is what we seek. Escape from the dreary, humdrum repetitiveness of our bleak, doom-laden and ultimately meaningless existence. Precious moments of distraction from the knowledge that we’re merely gooey sacks of DNA can save us from nihilistic catatonia and existential mind implosions.

Or is that just me?

Whichever genre of game you happen to enjoy the most, the ultimate goal is immersion. This can be achieved by great storytelling, intense concentration, creativity, nail-biting competition or the allure of an alternative reality to explore. What differs is how we choose to consume the immersion; length of time available, alone or in multiplayer, genre, sub-genre and enough other variables to warrant a whole new feature on the mechanics of video gaming.

Evochron Mercenary is all about the immersion.

You take on the role of one of four available pilot types: mercenary, miner/trader, combat pilot or racer. Whichever you choose, do not expect an easy ride.

I began my journey as a combat pilot. First stop, the training sessions.  All aspects of Evochron Mercenary are covered in the tutorial, from basic flight, navigation and trading, to building space stations. I was playing using a wireless 360 controller; this was recognised instantly by the game and easy to customise to my tastes. A good start.

Evochron Mercenary is a brain twistingly massive space combat, trade and build simulator. The tutorial simply couldn’t cover every aspect of what’s to come without becoming an epic in it’s own right. As I did, you may benefit from watching a few community created YouTube tutorial videos, of which there are plenty.

Following the tutorials I launched the single-player game proper, entered the Sapphire solar system and without much ado, found myself embroiled in a dog-fight with a bunch of every-bodies favourite space villains – sociopathic pirates. Aaaaargh, Jim-lad. I managed to take a few shots with my craft’s cannon and even fire off a few missiles before I was blasted into a billion new stars. I was beaten by the stinky space-pirates and my complete inability to pilot my craft. Evochron Mercenary is a space simulation remember. A simulation in the truest sense. This means that effectively piloting a space craft requires an appreciation of the physics of gravity and inertia. The space craft also have three-dimensional thrusters to propel your nerdy little body in all directions. Mastering these concepts does not happen immediately. Unless you’re a sort of space combat savant. Which I’m clearly not.

I then began a new career as a mercenary. The game is called Evochron Mercenary, after all.  This is when the time-hole erupted.

I easily found a local space station and checked out the available upgrades for my basic space craft. There were plenty, covering all aspects of the craft’s systems. All I needed next was currency to purchase my desired items. I hatched a cunning plan to turn my craft in to a floating shopping trolley. This involved maxing-out cargo space and installing a mineral mining beam. Brilliant. My life as an intergalactic wheeler-dealer could begin.

Ten hours later I was still happily traversing the universe, mining diamonds, platinum and metals to fill my cargo bays and sell at profit to local dealers. Steadily improving my ship and becoming a self-made space millionaire. That’s when I remembered there is also a multiplayer aspect to Evochron Mercenary. 

The beautiful thing about the multiplayer is that it is persistent with your singleplayer career. If you find yourself out-gunned by enemies in singleplayer, pop over to a multiplayer server and ask for assistance. Problem solved. In my experience the multiplayer side of the game is reliably populated, with between two and six servers constantly being played.

Evochron Mercenary has a friendly and dedicated community. I encountered no elitism and players were happy to lend a hand or offer sage advice. It was during playing on a multiplayer server that I was advised to begin fulfilling contracts. Contracts you say? That’s right. There’s more to life than mining meteors. The space station also has a list of contracts available that offer various tasks in return for payment. Otherwise known as missions or quests. I was advised to follow the IMG contracts, which would introduce me to deeper aspects of the Evochron universe. That’s one of those “should have been in the tutorial” moments. I followed the IMG contracts, which had me cleaning crap off huge solar panels, delivering goods, racing my craft, protecting capital ships and of course, mining more minerals. Some of the contracts involve landing on planets to carry out tasks. That’s right, landing on planets. The transition from space to planetary atmosphere is seamless and impressively engineered. I like landing on planets a lot.

This kept me going for around twenty-five hours, at which point I decided it was time to write this here review, before I blinked and realised it was my sixty-fifth birthday.

Remember the time-hole I mentioned?

So, here I am. Writing my review of Evochron Mercenary. A truly massive space combat, trade and build simulation. There are many aspects of the game I haven’t experienced yet, such as building my own space stations, creating drones to do my mining for me, upgrading my craft to the max, and of course, exploring the gargantuan Evochron universe, of which I have merely scratched the surface.

A wonderful trait of this game is that though the possibilities are vast, the action comes thick and fast. A minute to learn, a lifetime to master, the old gaming cliché goes, and that could apply, if we exchange a minute for an hour. This is a sandbox title and the sandbox could very well go on forever.

There’s more though. The official site has a customization kit to download and everything is yours to tweak. I added 28 of my own ambient electronica music files to the soundtrack, for extra floatiness factor. Mmmmm floatiness factor. There are user-created mods too; my favourite being an enhanced nebulae pack.

The vanilla graphics effectively create realistic space and the sound design is suitably minimalistic. The HUD can be customised to suit your style – from minimal to loaded with in-flight information and full 3D cockpit. The physics of the simulation beautifully capture weightlessness, inertia and gravity. It’s worth mentioning that the developer, StarWraith 3D Games LLC, is basically one man doing it for the love of quality space simulation gaming. You would never guess this from the high production values though.

Evochron Mercenary is a release that will please fans of the space combat, trade and build genre immensely.

9/10

Official Website

Evochron Mercenary on Steam

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Hardware Used: 

Wireless 360 Controller

AMD 4200+ X2 2233 MHz CPU

ATI HD4670 512mb GPU

Windows XP SP3

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This entry was posted by Ian Brown.

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