Review: Evoland 2 Will Have You Chrono Triggered
Evoland 2 is the successor to Shiro Games' Evoland and it couldn't be more deserving of the title. The concept has come a long way since its Ludum Dare incarnation and thankfully it's for the better,
- Worth The Time?In every possible timeline, yes.
- Things LovedVariety in gameplay; the quirky humour; a very self-aware story with well placed meta references; decent amount of collectibles; another in-game card game that you'll spend way too much time playing.
- Things HatedA couple of audio stutters here and there; soundtrack could have used with a bit of diversity; some of the gameplay segments could have done with a bit more work.
- RecommendationI can't think of many reasons why you shouldn't play Evoland 2. If you are in any way interested in old school gaming or are looking for simple exposure to other genres you should definitely pick this up. You really can't go wrong here unless you're looking for a FPS, in which case I recommend you stop that and play Evoland 2.
- Name: Evoland 2
- Genre: High School History
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: N/A
- Platforms: PC
- Developer: Shiro Games
- Publisher: Shiro Games
- Price: $19.99 (R265)
- Reviewed On: PC
It’s me, Paul.
I am not your regular Paul though, I am the Paul of the future.
Or was it the past?
Oh well, by now I could even be the Paul of the present.
All this thinking in four dimensions makes my brain hurt.
Let’s get on with the matter at hand though as I can’t say for certain how this all ends.
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If I had to be completely honest here, I am at a total loss when it comes to this review. When I first saw Evoland 2 I made the unfortunate assumption that it would be much like its predecessor, with more genres thrown into the mix. This assumption did hold true for the first couple of minutes, with both games opening up in a very similar manner, but thankfully this quickly changed. While there is a little bit of coat-tail riding here, the game quickly builds up momentum and is able to stand on its own. To stand as a testament to gaming.
Evoland 2: A Slight Case of Spacetime Continuum Disorder uses the basic premise of the first Evoland, being an exploration into the evolution of gaming, as a means of not only delivering quite varied gameplay, but also a strong narrative. The game manages to take a couple of concepts and expands on them in such a way that creates a delightful gaming experience, which also serves as a bit of an eye opener to how far gaming as come. When it’s not making witty references to popular games, Evoland 2 is implementing gameplay that is reminiscent of not only the classics, but also some newer titles.
At its core, Evoland 2 plays like an adventure game that is very similar to The Legend of Zelda. Most of the game is played from this angle where you explore and fight monsters in various settings. You’ll find your standard mix of dungeons and forests to explore with many puzzles to solve as well as collectibles to find. This is very stock standard gameplay that is done appropriately and while this in itself is nothing to write home about, it is done in a competent which means that it is enjoyable enough. Where the gameplay really comes into its own is when the game starts throwing in new genres to create well executed set pieces.
Find a flying machine? Time for a bit of Shoot ‘Em Up gameplay. Confronted by rock throwing troll? I guess it’s time for some classic Donkey Kong action. What Evoland 2 does, which is quite admirable, is it takes from the plethora of gameplay possibilities available to it and creates situations that show whatever they’ve chosen in a way that never feels forced. I never felt that any of the gameplay segments were thrown in purely because there wasn’t enough representation of genre X, everything managed to feel natural. There is an incredible amount of varying gameplay types shown off and thankfully none of them feel forced, meaning that as a player you end up gaining a slight appreciation for them. For example, I am quite impartial to the Shoot ‘Em Up genre (mostly because I haven’t really played many games of this style) but after having some exposure to it through this game I feel more inclined to pick a game of this genre up in the near future.
The only complaint I have on this aspect is that I do feel some of these sections could have been done a little bit better gameplay wise. This complaint shouldn’t be seen as something negative however, as I feel it has more to do with the fact that I personally have had greater exposure to certain genres which have made me more inclined to expect certain things. This boils down to me being a bit nitpicky over minor details and with the massive scope of this game, it’s impossible for the developers to have a firm understanding of the nuances of each genres. It could also be that this was done specifically to show off how far each genre has come, but it just feels like an incredibly minor flaw in the game.
While we have seen gameplay diversify over the years, it would be silly to overlook the graphical changes that have occurred. It would be silly to limit this to the purely visual aspect of games, so let’s look at the overall aesthetic nature of Evoland 2. The visuals may not be shining examples of what each era could produce, but they never needed to be. That being said, Evoland 2 does appeal to please the senses. The game looks pretty good and uses the changes in visual styles to its advantage for the most part. Making use of various different perspectives and styles to give the player an authentic experience during each gameplay segment.
Evoland 2 goes beyond changing up the presentation of the game to prove its point of nostalgia and just makes the whole thing feel natural, as if there is a bigger underlying point to it. The visuals change in order to both carry the games narrative but also so that the various changes in gameplay can realistically occur. On top of its well executed appearance, the game also manages to handle very well. The controls are simple and well executed, so they carry well through the evolving gameplay of the game. You might expect that moving from a regular adventure game to a rhythm game may cause an upsetting change in controls, but this fortunately does not happen. I do have to recommend here that you play with a controller as, while not exactly poor, the keyboard controls are just not as comfortable.
The last bit of presentation, which for me is the most important, that needs to be looked at is the audio. The sound effects in the game are well used and sound appropriate, but they’re just not as diverse as the games visuals. Evoland 2 does unfortunately let itself down here by not having as diverse sound effects as its predecessor, but this isn’t really a deal breaker as it’s something you really have to focus on to notice. There were a couple of audio stutters here and there but these were quite infrequent and you kind of have to really keep an ear out for them if you want to hear them. The soundtrack of Evoland 2 is also well executed with fitting music for each scenario, but does suffer from a lack of diversity when it comes to styles. Even though you may be playing through a segment from the 16-bit era, you won’t have 16-bit music supporting it which is something that would have only proven to improve the game overall. While on the whole the soundtrack is quite enjoyable, it doesn’t do enough for it to be memorable. So while you’re going to remember certain parts of the game, you may struggle to remember the music that went with it. This isn’t, once again, that big of an issue I just feel that it could have been brought up to the exceptional standard that the rest of the game has.
Usually if an indie game looks good and plays well it is considered a success, but Evoland 2 takes it a little further by having a rather well executed narrative that manages to strike a pretty good balance of being serious and poking fun at itself. The game manages to weave in references and poke fun at famous video games without it ever feeling all that forced. You get the moments where these references are actually part of the story and then just placed in because they round off the setting quite nicely. This ranges from things like having Sid give the player a flying machine (which is a Final Fantasy staple) during the story to having Annie from League of Legends being seen as a child running through a village and getting up to mischief. What’s quite nice about Evoland 2 though is that it’s not just all references and humour, the main story of the game is a well crafted tale of time travel.
I will admit this straight out, the story of Evoland 2 took me completely by surprise. It is often the case that narratives that use time travel as a plot device often become inexplicable messes of actions, but this story manages to pace itself play out in a way that doesn’t feel like it’s trying to force anything and sets up an enjoyable tale. I feel that Evoland 2 just manages to create an interesting narrative that keeps its cards to it chest in order to create a finale that is completely unexpected and is open enough to reward the player for paying attention to what was going on during the game. If I had to be perfectly honest, I probably enjoyed the story far more than I should have but the mix of humour and well crafted narrative creates an experience that ends up being more than enjoyable. All of this together creates something that was just a pleasure to be exposed to, so while there are obviously places that could be improved on it is quite easy to overlook these as you enjoy what you are given.
As an entire package, Evoland 2 took me by surprise in the greatest way possible. While I came into it with very low expectations, I came out of the ending credits having not only enjoyed myself but with a strange feeling of enrichment. It absurdly wonderful to walk away from a game with a greater appreciation for gaming in general. The overall product here is just something that you need to experience for yourself to do it justice. As a game Evoland 2 is exceptional, which is a testament to what indie developers are capable of and out doing quite a few triple A titles in the process.
Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that you’re given a bit of fan service based on your completion of the game…