Unless I’m playing a shooter or strategy game, I tend to plug a controller in from the get go. For some reason, I didn’t do that when I first fired up Everspace. And I haven’t thought about it since.

Controls make or break a game. Obviously. But there’s a reason why games float to the top of your favorites list. They just feel right. Games like Doom and Call of Duty are popular for many reasons. Both are fun as hell to play. Smooth controls are a big part of that.

And controls don’t get much smoother than they do in Everspace. Flying your spaceship around icy asteroids and through the destroyed hulls of massive capital ships is effortless. All with a mouse. ROCKFISH Games nails the mouse controls. They don’t feel heavy, or momentum-based. Each movement is crisp and smooth.

Want to fly through the tight confines of an asteroid cave? A quick flick of the mouse gets you right where you want to be.

Of course, not every movement is done with the mouse. Everspace uses the usual keyboard keys for movement. You can strafe side to side (‘A’ and ‘D’), roll (‘Q’ and ‘E’) and rise and fall (‘space’ and ‘ctrl’). All the controls are snappy. Combine them with smooth mouse controls and you’ll be flying like an ace in no time.

You’re going to be glad the controls are so damn good. The AI in Everspace is relentless. They have one goal. Blowing you and your spaceship to pieces. And they pursue it to their detriment.

Everspace cockpit

I was flying around Sector 3 last night. My hull is about half strength when four ships warp right to my location. I lock onto the first target and fire off a quick missile and give it everything I got with my Gatling gun. One down, three to go.

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Here’s where I have a quick criticism of Everspace. Figuring out where exactly enemy ships are can be a pain in the ass sometimes. It’s a combination of two things. The vibrant environment and how close enemies engage with you. By the time you boost and make a hard turn, the target you’re chasing is doing the same thing. It’s not game-breaking by any stretch, but I do notice it when I’m fighting more than two enemies at the same time. Usually I boost away to get my bearings before I re-engage.

Alright, back to my fight. The three ships opened up on me. My shields went down in an instant. Lucky for me, there were plenty of hollowed out asteroids near me. I flew through one of them. But one of the enemy ships already circled to the other side. A few laser hits had my hull seeing better days. I activated my ships boosters and swung around the asteroid surface with my nose just feet from touching. I was power sliding around an asteroid, and it felt awesome.

Remember how I said enemy ships like to engage close. Well this one was too close. I heard a muffled explosion behind me, turned around and saw a few pieces of loot floating in space. I mopped up the last two, shot a few containers, mined a couple of asteroids and jumped to the next part of the sector.

It’s not just ships giving you headaches either. You’ll often stumble upon installations defended by an array of missile and laser batteries. Get used to the missile lock tone on your ship. You’ll hear it a lot.

Sure, you can boost away and evade incoming missiles. It’s easy enough to do. But where’s the fun in that? Flick the mouse wheel to your Gatling guns, swing around and blast the missiles out of the sky before they reach you.

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These moments happen every time you complete a jump through hyperspace. And the crisp mouse controls are the reason why Everspace’s gameplay loop works. Each time you die, you take the experiences (and money) from your previous Sector run and start again. More shields, more weapons, more credits, more fuel. They all help in making your next run last longer. But it’s pushing Everspace’s slick controls to the limit that will get you further each time.

Everspace isn’t about brute force. It’s about finesse. Asteroids are your friend. Use them for cover. And hey, there’s no shame in dying. Spend your credits on upgrades and give it another go.

Look for my complete ‘review’ (it’s in early access) of Everspace later this week.

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