Evoland is currently on sale on Steam for another 24 hours or so, so I thought this would be a perfect time to write a quick review for this historical adventure. This is truly an innovative game that will appeal to anyone from RPG lovers, to games history buffs, to even (and I loathe using this term) ‘casual gamers’. I feel dirty.
You start out in a silent black and white pixelated world, in which your only option is to move right. As you progress, you begin to unlock more and more game elements that we generally take for granted, such as the ability to move in any direction, or save points (which are nowadays quite rarely used). Evoland starts out as an adventure through video game history. The graphics update from 2D to 3D, the sound from 8 to 16-bit to symphonic, the textures from standard to high definition. It’s very interesting to see this progression right in front of your eyes as you progress through the game. You almost feel like you’re going from playing a NES game to a Playstation 2 game. It’s an original concept, and one that makes Evoland stand out from the rest of the crowd.
Near the beginning of the game, you unlock the story. You’re playing as Clink, an obvious hybrid of The Legend of Zelda’s Link and Final Fantasy VII’s Cloud. The world is about to be plunged into darkness blah blah blah cliché fantasy plot blah blah. You’re eventually joined by a healer named Kaeris (no prizes for guessing what happens to her in the story, amirite?) It’s safe to say that whilst this game is honouring older RPGs, it’s also parodying them. The developers, Shiro Games, have definitely done their research, and often play on the ridiculous, now outdated attributes that older games of this genre used to portray, such as bonsai jungles, impassable rocks, or NPCs that run around in an endless circle. It features Easter eggs referencing games such as the aforementioned Zelda series, Final Fantasy VI and VIII, Dragon Quest and as such is truly a love letter to these games of yore. It even features a fella called Cid.
As the game evolves, its play style also changes. At some points you will find yourself faced with Final Fantasy style turn based combat, complete with random encounters. Certain forests and dungeons have you playing in a style reminiscent of both older and newer Zelda games, and one dungeon even features some Diablo-esque gameplay, with useless loot to equip ‘n’all.
As a nice little bonus, the game features a card game called Double Twin, an obvious allusion to Final Fantasy VIII’s own Triple Triad minigame. It plays very similar to both that and Triple Triad’s spiritual successor, Tetra Master from Final Fantasy IX. Along with Super Mario style stars spread throughout the world, this adds a collectable element to the game. Despite this, apart from earning an achievement, I saw no real reason to be hunting down stars, and only found a handful of people who played Double Twin, despite there being over 20 cards to collect.
Sadly, Evoland’s innovativeness is also its downfall. About two thirds of the way through the game, you stop unlocking the ‘evolution’, and as such the game just becomes a basic PS2-era RPG. This is fine, but seeing as the story is extremely clichéd, and the references begin to wane, I found myself getting a tad bored and just wanting to complete it. It was still enjoyable, but nowhere near as much as it had been a few hours before at the beginning of the game. It kind of got to the point where it was reminding me of old Zelda or Final Fantasy that all I really wanted to do was just go and play them instead…
At time of writing, Evoland is a mere £1.74 on Steam, reduced from £6.99. It’s definitely an enjoyable, accessible experience, with tons of throwbacks and nostalgia for older RPGs, but once that’s all said and done it kind of just becomes an average game in itself with no real replay value aside from just experiencing it again. Towards the end it gets a bit meh, and could easily be classed as a bad Final Fantasy or Zelda clone, but luckily the game is just long enough that it doesn’t overstay its welcome; it stays for one more cup of tea than it should have done, but you didn’t have any other plans so it’s ok. To complete the game once, you’re probably looking at around 5 hours or so, depending on how much stuff you collect, explore or grind. That said, when Evoland shines, it really shines. £1.74 is definitely worth it I would recommend this game if you got the cash cash money laying around, especially if you’re a sucker for this genre and grew up with some of the games that I have mentioned.