Saturday, January 09, 2016

Evoland Review

Until now, I have never reviewed anything from Steam or on the PC, but I recently acquired a Steam Link and controller, opening up a whole world of cheap gaming from the comfort of my sofa!  From now on I will be covering PC titles more often, though not the latest, biggest and flashiest titles.  I am thinking more of cool indie games like Crypt of the Necrodancer, fantastic graphic adventures like The Book of Unwritten Tales, and RPG's like this one, Evoland: A short story of adventure video games evolution.

The very first version of this game came from a LudumDare competition, which is a game jam where the participants are given 48 hours to develop a game idea based around a particular theme.  The theme for that year was evolution, and so creator Nicolas Cannasse put together his game showing the progression of adventure games (more specifically, RPG's) throughout the ages.  Starting with primitive Game Boy style monochrome graphics, the player is rapidly guided through concepts like flick screen and smooth scrolling, 8bit graphics and music, turn based battles, full 3D environments, pre rendered backgrounds and HD graphics, plus a lot more in between.  Probably the games greatest strength is the way it never sits still for very long and within half an hour or so at the most you are on to the next thing.

This part of the game is very remiscent of The Legend of Zelda, though there are stretches that play like Final Fantasy as well.
Evoland is a pastiche of past games through and through, so don't expect it to have an amazing plot of characters of its own.  The story is as classic and as basic as it gets, really - an evil force is threatening the land and its up to you, the hero to stop it, with a little help from the heroine.  The default names for the two party members are Clink and Kaeris, and the the baddy is called Zephyros - that alone should be enough to tell you not to take this game too seriously.  No, Evoland is really all about the evolution gimmick, and the constant shifting of its presentation and game play styles. Because the game is very brief, and cleverly written for the most part, it works, and never becomes tiresome.  The whole thing will only take you between 4 and five hours to complete, a little longer if you decide to find all 30 of the optional hidden stars and the cards for the side game.

There was only one part that I wasn't really a fan of, and that is the games attempt to try Diablo style game play.  They never really commit to it as you don't have any skills and the "equipment" that you collect is just a joke, so the game play just comprises mashing the attack button over and over again and killing hordes of week mobs.  Hell, some would argue that's all that Diablo is, anyway.  Of course, the wise ones amongst us know better!  Just as I was starting to tire of this bit of the game however, it was over, and from there the game swiftly moved on to its climax.

Overall: 7 out of 10
Even though the game is not as vast and detailed as something like The Witcher 3, it still must have taken quite a lot of work because there are so many different art and game play styles all rolled into one.  Multiple different character sprites needed to be created, and both real time and turn based battle engines needed to programmed.  The whole game was put together by two people, so it's quite an impressive feat.  In summation, I really enjoyed my time playing Evoland, flawed though it is in places.  If you are a fan of the games it references - chiefly The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Diablo, then I heartily recommend that you spend an afternoon playing through it. There is also a sequel, where this concept has been fleshed out to last at least 20 hours.  I plan on playing it soon, so I will be sure to let you know if it manages to remain interesting for all that time. In the meantime, take care!

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