Back in the day (which was a Tuesday most likely, it’s always a Tuesday) I had the bright idea to start a podcast about playing video games and relaying my experiences. For some reason, I thought that Let’s Plays without the benefit or convenience of visual aid were somehow going to light the internet ablaze. I was half right, as the show can be best described as a dumpster fire of personal failure. My main takeaway from that whole experience was a positive one, however, as I gained a dear friend in the process, an Australian lad named Aaron that now punches people for a living. (Aside from the punching, lovely guy.)
It was several years ago when Aaron first recommended that I play Eversion. “It seems like your kind of thing” he said. That statement has always made me nervous. It implies that whatever you’re being lead to is a reflection of you as a person, so if that thing is terrifying or screwed up, you’re probably a monster. Fair shakes to him, though, dude was on point. I am a monster.
There’s really no way to talk about Eversion at any length without spoiling a bit of it. Considering that the game’s been out for roughly a decade, I don’t so much mind telling you that it’s not what it seems. It’s a horror game, though not what we’ve generally come to expect from that term in a modern context. As someone that finds himself drawn to that genre a bit more than others, I’ve always valued the potential it has in an interactive space, a potential that we’ve barely ever explored. Too often we rely on cheap jump scares in lieu of actual dread. Having something horrible jump at you can be very effective, but I’d argue that it’s infinitely more interesting to know exactly where that horrible thing is and to slowly force yourself to face it on your own terms. Even if you know it’s coming, Eversion takes its time, gradually filling you with that dread before even thinking of delivering on it.
That’s what horror is at its core – anticipation and execution. It’s the introduction of something unknown and unexplained in a space that we would typically recognize as safe. We’re afraid of what we don’t know, which is why horror games as a rule need something more substantive to hold up to multiple playthroughs. Once we understand, it’s no longer scary. Eversion curtails this by being a singular experience that you want to see others play, so their expectations can subverted in the same way, not to see them jump from their seat, but to watch the color drain from their face when they realize what they’re in for.
It’s a testament to the game that I still have that desire years after beating it.
Eversion is available for free here, but is also available on Steam in updated form.