Indie Review: Evoland (Complete)
Evoland, created by Shiro Games, is an indie adventure title that is a successor to the original game of the same name. The classic was created for the Ludum Dare #24 indie competition, and won in its group, and from there Shiro Games went on to turn it into a full length game, which is now out.
- Worth The Time?Yes, without a doubt, especially to those who enjoyed the classic version.
- Things LovedThe developers have done a wonderful job of turning an experiment into a full game, the quirky humour, tons of variety, watching the evolution of the adventure genre is captivating, the sound is great, the story is entertaining, it's really creative, great boss fights, it's enjoyable to play.
- Things HatedThere are some translation issues, the final boss though epic could use a bit of difficulty tweaking, sometimes it feels like more could have been done with certain mechanics, collectibles feel unrewarding.
- RecommendationIf you like old-school adventure games or you've been a fan of the genre for many years, this is exactly what will put a smile on your face. This game is for those who value creativity, innovation and nostalgia, and enjoyed games like the early Zelda and Final Fantasy games. To them, this is a must-play. To the rest, try out the free-to-play classic version first before deciding.
- Name: Evoland
- Genre: Adventure
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: N/A
- Platforms: PC
- Developer: Shiro Games
- Publisher: Shiro Games
- Price: $9.99 (about R91)
- Reviewed On: PC
Evoland, created by Shiro Games, is an indie adventure title that is a successor to the original game of the same name. The original game, referred to as the classic version, was created for the popular Ludum Dare indie competition, which is a competition where participants get 48 hours to make a game based on a theme. Evoland’s theme, as you may have guessed, was evolution, and it won its respective group, fully deserving of it if I may add. From there, Shiro Games went on to turn it into a full length game, which has now been released. If you’d like to have a lot more context regarding what this is all about, I’d advise you to check out the free-to-play, browser-based classic version of Evoland. It should take you just ten minutes or so to finish, but it’s absolutely worth it and should make your purchasing decision so much easier, either way. Right then, let’s get into the new Evoland.
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While the original game didn’t have a whole lot of context by means of a story, Shiro Games has crafted one for this Evoland that is extremely light-hearted, very entertaining and humourously introduced. I won’t spoil the how, but as for what it’s about, you play as a little adventurer, who doesn’t take an arrow to the knee (yes I am so funny), who must rise against the evil that is threatening the world of Evolandia. You’ll explore the world, discover the evolution of the adventure genre as it transformed over the years, and ready yourself to fight against your evil enemy. Spoiling the story would mean spoiling the discovery of how it’s presented in this context, so I won’t say much more. But it’s enjoyable to follow, quirky, full of wit and charm and some surprising references that could make you cringe or giggle with delight depending on your tastes. The story is definitely an asset to the game’s allure.
If you’re familiar with the classic Evoland, then this is very much an extension of that. For those who are new, Evoland allows you to explore the evolution of the adventure game genre. It plays a lot like the old school Zelda games before bringing in some classic Final Fantasy RPG elements and such. You’ll start out devoid of colour, basic movement and screen scrolling and any deep mechanics at all. From there, collecting main chests will introduce new mechanics and evolutions to the game, therefore advancing you through time and technology. For example, you may pick up a chest that will enable NPCs or an inventory system, and the game is very progressive and compelling in this way. It’s an amazing concept, and it really has translated well into a full game. You’ll journey from the most primitive of adventure gaming to a wide variety of elements and mechanics, such as turn-based combat, boss fights and open world exploration, that brought the genre to its fame, and in this way the game remains both fresh and multi-layered, and it always gives you something to look forward to if it appeals to you.
There’s so much joy to be had in going through this journey by yourself and letting it surprise and entertain you, so I’m really not going to spoil what else you’ll find here. Moving on then, advancing through the game world requires exploration, which is mostly linear. You can deviate from the main path to pick up collectibles, but these aren’t all that rewarding and just add play time and achievements, rather than enhancements to the actual game. The system is simple, but works elegantly, and each main chest will bring radical changes to the world and some more wit and quirky humour. If I do have to give a bit of a criticism here, I’d have to say that the game focuses a lot on quantity, but often leaves mechanics behind never to return. On the one hand, this allows you to be introduced to new things frequently, but on the other it feels like opportunities for depth and expansion have been missed, and it’s a lot of surface-scratching. That about ends the criticism I have for this game. I hardly have anything negative to say about Evoland, and that’s a great thing. Let me be clear that it’s just loveable.
The truth of the matter though is that the gamers who will appreciate this most are the old-school kind, or those who have been a fan of the genre for many years and hold a special place in their hearts for classic adventure games like the old Zeldas and Final Fantasies and original Diablo titles. It’s a game you’ll just play with a smile the whole way through, and the nostalgia of it all will really sell this to you. I can say that for more modern gamers, perhaps those without the adventure background, if you appreciate innovation and creativity in games then again this is a wonderful journey. It’s witty, clever, charming, humourous and very enjoyable, and I’m very happy to recommend it completely. The beauty of the recommendation though is that you can just play the classic version of the game to see whether you like it, and from there the decision to buy this will become much simpler. While the original game will take you around ten minutes to complete, the full Evoland will keep you occupied for two to three hours, with the opportunity for additional game time if you want the collectibles and achievements.
Visually, this game is all about the nostalgia, and it’s very, very pleasant on the eyes. It’s vibrant, colourful and cheery with a great deal of cuteness, and the evolutions of the world are an awesome sight to see. The graphics are great, as is the presentation of the world, and the extend to which it appeals to you will depend on your appreciation for the nostalgia. The music though is excellent, and there are some really great tracks that send you right back to the good days of adventure titles, as well as some that make for epic boss encounters later on. On the technical side of things, a small nitpick I have is that there were a handful of translation issues in the game. They absolutely weren’t serious, just noticeable and a bit funny. I had one crash bug in my experience, so that may be worth noting, but apart from that it was smooth sailing. The whole game was a joy to play. I do feel that the final boss perhaps deserves a little difficulty tweaking, as you get no health or checkpoints during the multi-layered fight. It’s alright once you know how to win, but before then it can be a bit frustrating.
Evoland is a fantastic advert for indie gaming. It’s exactly why I love supporting indie and being so personally involved in it. The game is creative, charming, quirky, unique, highly entertaining and wonderfully nostalgic, and it really is a joy to play and experience. Ultimately it will be old-school adventure fans or those who appreciate creativity and innovation that will find the most to love here, and there truly is a lot to love. Furthermore, a great part of what makes it an exciting prospect is that its concept of evolution has the potential to be expanded and taken to other genres or contexts, which would be awesome to see. For now, however, Evolands is a stand-out title, and an absolute must-play.