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North American PlayStation 2 cover art
Evergrace (エヴァーグレイス Evāgureisu?) is an action role-playing game for the PlayStation 2 created by From Software and was published by Agetec in North America and Ubisoft and Crave Entertainment in PAL territories. The game was a launch title for the system in North America and Europe.
Evergrace features two main characters, Darius the swordsman and Sharline the homemaker, with two distinctly different storylines and different battle techniques. The game allows players to switch between characters at any save point. Evergrace uses an experience system depending on items and equipment rather than statistical upgrades. Another feature is the "Palmira Action System" which allows players to improve the physical abilities of their characters by combining specialized crystals with their armaments.
Evergrace also features a bonus dungeon that is named after a game from the same company. From Software released a first person action RPG back in the PSone era called Shadow Tower. From Software is often known for including past game references in their latest games. The Moonlight Sword, for example, a weapon that originated in their flagship series, King's Field, also appears in Evergrace as well as its follow-up Forever Kingdom.
The continent of Edinbury once held the largest and most powerful empire of all time: the Rieubane Empire. This empire was primarily ruled by Morpheus, a powerful magician, and his servants and clients. Morphius became devoted to studying the Crest, a series of markings on one's hand, and are considered cursed due to the misfortunes that happen to the Crestbearers. Morpheus was fascinated with the Crest and performed several experiments, thus creating the powerful Palmira Armaments and the man-made AI Crest.
After capturing a renegade soldier who had the Crest, Morpheus ordered the Empire to invade Toledo, a nearby independent village in the Billiana forest, because they worshiped the Crest and were supposedly a threat to the balance of Rieubane. The Empire would never have agreed with Morpheus if they knew his real reason for invading the Toledans: simply to acquire more test subjects. In the end, the Empire effortlessly crushed Toledo, but as the flames grew higher, the Rieubane Empire, Toledo and the Human Research Lab suddenly and completely disappeared. People came to call Rieubane "the Lost Kingdom", and the land became overgrown with Billiana Trees.
Hundreds of years later, four villages once part of the empire banded together to establish the empire of Fontraile, but this was not to last...
Darius and Sharline grow up together on the continent of Edinbury, in the village of Solta of the Fontraile empire. Darius has the Crest, which he secretly conceals.
Solta, one of the four villages that make up Fontraile, was currently in conflict with a neighboring village, Morea, over the issue of Billiana Trees that covered the continent. Morea considered the trees to be sacred, but Solta claimed the trees depleted the land of its resources by sucking up the energy. The resulting Billiana War led to Darius' parents being killed. Sharline suddenly gets teleported out of her world.
When she awakes she finds herself in a small hut in a secret, "lost" world called Rieubane, which was sealed off long ago by magic. A woman called Sienna tends to her, saying she was found lying in the woods. Sienna warns her to remain in the hut until she returns. Sharline's curiosity gets the better of her, however, and she sneaks a peek through the door.
Sienna stands outside with a gnarly-looking old magician, who is in the process of interrogating her. But the man, Morpheus, sees Sharline and realizes that Sienna is hiding someone, which is against the laws of the Rieubane Empire. He kidnaps her before Sharline's eyes, as well as sending a firebolt into the house, rendering Sharline unconscious.
When Sharline awakes, she decides she must find Sienna and ask her about where she is and how she got here. She arms herself with a bow and starts off through the Royal Commons. Sharline takes down several monsters on the way. Then she encounters a robed woman, who states that she is in the Rieubane Empire and that no one can leave or enter. But Sharline is determined to do so. She is told of Saramad Hill, supposedly the last inhabitable place in the empire for citizens to live. She travels there, and meets an old man who gives her a special leaf in turn for a flower to place on a grave. Sharline then sees a stray dog and follows it to a field area. There she encounters a ghost, which she defeats with her bow skills. The old man tells her about the Door with three heads back in the Royal Commons.
Sharline returns and inserts the leaf she was given into the slot. The door rumbles open and she finds the robed woman once more beside a statue. The woman then tells her that the statue can transport her anywhere she wishes, and it does so. Sharline is teleported to a large lab called the Human Research Laboratory, which is where Morpheus studies the Crest and holds all his captured and twisted test subjects. Due to his research, Morpheus created the powerful Palmira armaments as well as the man-made AI crest.
Sharline makes her way through the dim halls of the facility, slaying various test subjects that run rampant through the halls. She reaches Morpheus' room, where she angrily tells him to release Sienna. Morpheus agrees, but only if she'll defeat Ammit, a gigantic genetically-twisted beast that Sharline is forced to fight.
After slaying Ammit, Sharline opens all of the secret doors and continues through to a lab room. There, she combines the Billiana fruits and extracts she finds and creates a Transport Palmira. Then she returns to the center of the facility and places the transport Palmira in the Transporter. Sharline is transported to another area on the other side of the lab, looking for Morpheus, who had disappeared shortly after she defeated Ammit.
While on the other side of the lab, Sharline wanders around solving various puzzles and fighting loads of test subjects.
From Software intended Evergrace to be released onto the PlayStation 2 in its earliest stages of development. However, even after this had begun, the development team decided to try developing a PlayStation 1 version. The project proved to be too ambitious, and it was quickly cancelled.
The musical score for Evergrace was composed by Kota Hoshino. He stated in an interview that voices are used as the primary "instrument" in the game's soundtrack. Hoshino recorded samples of his own voice and edited them with Soundforge, then recorded more voice samples to create what he considers to be an ethnic sound. Japanese instruments such as the shakuhachi and the shamisen were also added. All the score's percussion was synthesized.
According to Famitsu, Evergrace debuted on Japanese sales charts at fifth place, selling 75,083 copies. It fell to seventh place the following week, selling an additional 11,886 copies. After continuing to fall on the charts, Evergrace sold 134,865 copies in the region by the end of 2000.
Evergrace received generally average to poor reviews from reviewers upon release. IGN praised the game for its innovations, including its full use of the DualShock controller buttons and the unique "paper doll" system in which the player's avatar actually wears the armor and clothing assigned to it. TotalGames.net criticized the game for having bland visuals and limited exploration. Likewise, GameSpot criticized the game for its dated visuals and laggy gameplay during battles.
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