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Evoland Review

Beginning life as a Ludum Dare competition winner, a contest amongst games designers to create a game from scratch in just 48 hours, Evoland has since been fleshed out and has now become a full-blown release on PC. In essence, it's an RPG about RPGs.

From the very beginning Evoland preys on your nostalgia, presenting you with a black and white, heavily pixelated hero, and as you unlock each of the several chests found throughout the game you are rewarded with an extra feature to enhance your RPG experience. A colour palette, 8-bit soundtrack, save points and multi-directional movement are amongst the first of the basic features to unlock, and from the get-go, you can feel yourself being whisked through the early ages of RPG history at breakneck speed.

Evoland

Soon enough you are treated to a 3D world map and monsters to battle, a Legend of Zelda point-and-prod fighting mechanism upgrades to a more turn-based Active Time Battle system akin to the Final Fantasy series. The graphics are consistently overhauled as the game progresses, and eventually you find yourself reliving the excitement of a fully-rendered 3D fighting battleground, taking its cues directly from Final Fantasy VII. In a matter of only a couple of hours you are taken on a journey referencing ten years of role-playing heaven. Evoland truly is a love letter to the RPG genre.

However, like most love letters it fools you into falling head over heels in love with it and after committing to the relationship the cracks become very apparent, so you soon find yourself wading through the drudgery of what is essentially a fairly poor RPG. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love what Evoland is trying to achieve – it made me laugh, and at least twice I found myself uttering "that's amazing" to myself – but its biggest flaw is that it gives you everything much too quickly. Rather than stagger the gameplay upgrades throughout the game, it chucks them at you thick and fast, all the while pleading 'like me, like me.'

Evoland

As soon as you get past the novelty of ever-changing environs and constant reminders of a much beloved, bygone era, it is very obvious that there is little story to be found (until very late on in the game) and absolutely no customisation to stats, abilities, items and equipment. You can buy the odd sword here or there, but you don't even get to equip it yourself. The inventory screen serves as just a pause screen, it is utterly intangible until late in the game when all you can use it for is to swap your sword to a crossbow or bomb.

Perhaps it is unfair to expect a game which describes itself as "a short story of adventure games evolution" to include a complex levelling system, abilities set and full-on customisation, but a homage to all things RPG should have at least tried to include some of these basic RPG elements.

Evoland

Neat little inclusions like a scaled down Tetra Master-style card game named Demon Twin are let down by the fact there are seemingly only two other players of it in the whole world, and you can't even win their cards off them. The game goes for humour and familiar referencing over substance, which admittedly it does quite well.

Another thing to note about Evoland is its lack of consistency. It does a great job of reeling you in with nods to your favourite childhood adventure games through humour and level design, then stops being funny and actually becomes frustrating to play. You end up wading through dungeons with too many monsters than they can handle, causing slowdown and lag of quite epic proportions, and a boss with too much health and too few attack methods.

Roll on to near enough the end of the game and there is a quite ingenious use of the world map with regards to puzzle solving, whereby you use these crystals to travel back and forth through time, altering the landscape between 2D and 3D, revealing areas unavailable in the other time period. For example a 'dimension cube' isn't passable in the 2D world, but travel forward to the 3D timeframe and it is revealed the cube is only shin-height and easily traversable. Evoland is the epitome of a Jack of all trades, master of none.

Evoland

With more time and fine-tuning, Evoland could have been so much more. It's a self-described short story - approximately six to eight hours long - so it's fair enough concessions have to be made, and it gets across its raison d'etre with gusto, chiefly to take the player on an emotional rollercoaster through the ages of the RPG, but as an RPG it falls short on just about every aspect of the genre.

It is enormous fun to play through the first third of Evoland, where the game itself levels up faster than your character, but when those crates suddenly stop appearing around every corner and the game runs out of ideas to keep you interested, it becomes a chore to play on until the end. This is a game worth getting if you're an RPG veteran and fancy a trip down memory lane, but not if you're looking for a bona fide RPG. Post-PlayStation gamers need not apply.

5.50/10 5½

Evoland (Reviewed on Windows)

The game is average, with an even mix of positives and negatives.

Beginning life as a Ludum Dare competition winner, a contest amongst games designers to create a game from scratch in just 48 hours, Evoland has since been fleshed out and has now become a full-blown release on PC. In essence, it's an RPG about RPGs.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Gary Durston

Gary Durston

Staff Writer

Gary has been a gamer all his life and is a total retrohead. A lover of games, gaming and just about anything with a pixel, really.

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COMMENTS

Kaostic
Kaostic - 11:39pm, 3rd April 2015

Very interesting concept for a game and very original. It's a shame it didn't turn out quite as good as it could have though.

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Emseypenguin
Emseypenguin - 11:39pm, 3rd April 2015

Yeah it's a shame, I love the idea for this! I may have to try it anyway...maybe I'll wait for a sale.

Reply
Kaostic
Kaostic - 11:39pm, 3rd April 2015

It currently doesn't have a price listed on Steam but a little birdy tells me it's going to be £6.99 on release (later today) so it's not exactly going to break the bank.

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Ewok
Ewok - 11:39pm, 3rd April 2015

Might take a punt down the line for that price. I think I'm in the right age-bracket for it.

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