A Trip Down the Evolutionary Lane – Evoland Review For PC
This game was reviewed on the PC.
What would happen if elements from Super Mario, Final Fantasy, Diablo, and The Legend of Zelda came together into one game? The result would be Evoland! Developed and produced by Shiro Games, Evoland takes you on a journey through RPG history, evolving from 8-bit to HD.
You’ll begin with a tiny image of an 8-bit adventurer, who has two Chests to the left and right of him, and a dialog box telling you to open them. As you continue through the game, you’ll discover more Chests, and each one that you open adds new features to the game: sound, colour, movement, and more. By the time you’ve reached the end of Evoland, you’ve gotten a full three-dimensional HD experience.
The main character himself looks like the love child of Cloud from Final Fantasy and Link from Zelda, sporting green armor, elf ears, big yellow hair, and a gigantic sword. The Armor or Swords you come across (or purchase) are gone as soon as you find something better – giving players a lack of customization or diversity in their game, and only the ability to change the character name to personalize their experience. This makes it harder for players to attach themselves to the game in a meaningful way. Regardless, players may be able to associate their old memories with the new character, which may ultimately improve their gaming experience.
Every aspect of the Evoland is based off other classic games, right down to the storyline. The main villain is Zephyros (not to be confused with Sephiroth, of course), who seeks to destroy the world you know and love. You and your healer companion (I named her Aerith), will journey to the Black Citadel to confront this evildoer and restore the world to its natural balanced state. Aside from a basic idea of why you’re fighting, there is really no character development, or reason to stay attached to your character or companion. This is too bad because Shiro Games could have had so much fun intertwining various storylines to create one big and surprising journey for gamers. Even when Aerith died, there was nothing to make the moment compelling, regardless if you’ve played Final Fantasy before.
Thankfully, the dialog (in text format) will give you a few smiles, like when a villager comments that she “used to be an adventurer like you, until [she] took an arrow to…” Your enemies will also feel all too familiar as you encounter them – from Zoombas, a group of evil mushrooms, to Wizards who appear out of nowhere in dungeons, shoot fire at you and then disappear. Each enemy is from another game, with only slight changes to their appearance or names.
There are two main sets of battle mechanics present in Evoland: action, and turn-based. When you are travelling about the lands, you’ll enter into combat that is turn-based. You will have a very basic RPG setup, including HP, Actions, Items, and Special Abilities. When you are in areas with free-roaming enemies, the combat mechanic shifts to an action-based fighting style where you’ll have three weapons at your disposal: Bombs, Arrows, and a Sword, and three Hearts as your life meter.
Though having two main battle mechanics sounds complex, both are extremely easy. In fact, the battles are so simplistic you’ll find yourself hard-pressed to meet a challenge. There is a third battle mechanic in the game, but it appears only once, when you are in a specific cave with The Undead King. You’ll find Chests that will allow you to change your main character, your inventory, and change the way your Health works. It adapts the character so it is as if you are playing Diablo, but right after this, you’ll go back to the same, three-Heart and basic weapon setup that you’ve been using up until that point. All the Chests you open in that dungeon are moot once you leave – without any explanation as to why. This gap in the storyline is a little disappointing, as it feels as you if you are given a downgrade without just cause, and makes the flow of the game feel disjointed.
When you’re in dungeons that are visually reminiscent of Zelda, the music will sound almost as if you were playing A Link to the Past, while out travelling and looking for Chobokos, you’ll hear music very similar to Final Fantasy VII. The music caters to players’ nostalgia, and coupled with the constantly evolving graphics, will be sure to touch the hearts of older gamers in a way new games just can’t. It’s this added touch that really gives this game the benefit of being a true tribute to gaming history.
There are a few things that you can do aside from the main quest – such as playing a card game called Double Twin. It follows the exact same rules as Triple Triad, introduced in Final Fantasy VIII. You’ll find the cards along your travels, of which you can collect a total of 23 cards, and you’ll also collect Stars from Chests, though they serve no real purpose other than collecting them. The game overall is fairly short, about four hours in length with no real side quests or goals. This can leave players feeling like the game is over before it has truly begun, and detract from the replay value.
Nevertheless, if you want to replay all your favourite old games in a brand new way, and relive the memories – Evoland is the game that you should be considering. The simplicity of the gameplay but complexity of the artistic concept will give players an easy trip down memory lane. The way it brings all of our favourites together makes for a fascinating playthrough, and is sure to give you a few smiles.
Evoland receives a 3.75/5.0
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