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Review: Evolandindie Steam Greenlight PC
In late 2012, a little game called Evoland appeared. The title was developed by Nicolas Cannasse as an entry into the 24th annual Ludum Dare. People gravitated to his oddball title and it ended up winning the game jam above tons of other entries. Apparently the ideas behind the game were too good to pass up as it was remade into much more polished form with Evoland now available on PC.
Evoland’s biggest selling point is that it is a game focused around the evolution of video games. At the start, everything is very pixelated and in black in white. Controls are restricted and rigid just as old games were. By finding treasure chests, the player triggers various advancements for the game. A top down perspective eventually shifts to 2.5D, graphics turn from pixels to polygons, and music flourishes in the background.
The primary focus is definitely on the mechanic of changing the game to fit the various trends and evolutions the industry has seen. But what of actually playing? Is there too much attention given to the cool concept and not enough on gameplay? Thankfully, playing the game is a solid experience. There are glitches to be found and are even some neat puzzles to come across. Two main distinct forms of battling are showcased and beyond that, there's little else to worry about.
An adventure takes two to four hours, depending on if you want to try and complete the game 100% or not. Fully completing the game requires players to find two sets of collectibles. These are cards and stars which are littered about in treasure chests. Stars have no real purpose but cards are used in their own little game. Of course, access to the card game comes at about the halfway point, meaning you’ll have likely collected enough cards to play by then.
In general, play isn’t particularly compelling though, unless you are a huge fan of 8-bit Zelda or the PlayStation era Final Fantasy games. This is because the majority of inspiration and homages paid through Evoland are for these particular games. Yes, there are other references as well, but these two stand out as most obvious. Whether you’re slashing with a sword from a top down perspective or battling random enemies in turn-based fashion, it all feels very familiar. Familiarity is not a bad thing but is worth noting in case you happen to somehow despise Final Fantasy or The Legend of Zelda.
With that said, little of the actual game is compelling. The story is incredibly familiar (by design) and playing isn’t complex. The most fun to be had is by simply travelling through the game to see what modernizations come next. The true story you get with this game is about evolution of the medium rather than the tale of two heroes trying to save a dying land. Although there is nothing wrong with this, it may annoy players who come in expecting to have a very definite game experience. Evoland is game-like but is simple enough to feel more like an interactive history lesson.
When it comes right down to it, that’s what the experience presented really is. There is fun in seeing how the game is set to upgrade next, but little else to keep you occupied. Scraps of humor are included as well but even these pale in comparison to other “funny” games. But the experience presented here is novel, and not something you’re likely to run across again. One unfortunate aspect of this presentation is the bias of Shiro Games, which means non-RPG genre games are pretty much left out of the evolutionary tale.
If you’d love to take a simulated trip down gaming’s memory lane, then Evoland is something worth picking up. Just be aware that aside from the aesthetic changes, upgrades are primarily focused around the world of RPG games as opposed to platformers, shooters, or anything else. A jaunt through is also quite short, which may impact your interest. Regardless, this is a game for people who love games and wish to remember the old days.
+ A sweet love letter to video games
+ Gameplay mechanics work well despite shifting
+ Creative way to make a game
- Pays little homage to games aside from Zelda and Final Fantasy
- Little compelling aside from seeing new evolutions
- Experience is primarily fueled by nostalgia, not play
Overall Score: 5.5 (out of 10)
Gamers will find themselves amused by Evoland’s homage to the evolution of gaming with special attention given to the RPG genre.
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