The first time I saw a trailer for Evoland, I was hooked. The fact that I would play a game that slowly evolved from an 8-bit format to a modern day experience had me excited. Shiro Games have made the ultimate homage to practically every type of RPG. Zelda, Final Fantasy, and even Diablo are all represented and through a little satire, make for a charming endeavor that will have anyone who grew up with those titles cracking a smile.
Evoland starts off in mono-colored, 8-bit style that instantly reminded me of an old Game Boy cartridge. Movement was simplistic, and finding chests began unlocking new graphical advancements and mechanics. Before long, I was poking enemies with my sword while moving panel to panel just like Zelda. After a while, I moved to 16-bit graphics and was traversing an over world with random encounters that would force me into a turn-based Final Fantasy-type RPG. Even later, I was exploring a dungeon, grabbing useless loot while frantically “clicking” on enemies just like I would in Diablo II.
Most of this evolution is a permanent progression, but there were a few times where certain puzzles had me going in between different styles. Once progression had been made though, there was no real reason to go back other than gathering hidden stars or playing cards for a side game, which takes place after the main story is complete.
The star of Evoland is the presentation. The evolution upgrades are instant and with each one, there was always a funny or clever box describing them. These are genuinely comical at times and I could tell the developers of the game really knew all the small quirks that every RPG player has seen and discussed.
The experience lasts around four hours, which is not much for the content it does provide. Still, fans of classic RPGs will get a kick out of the game’s presentation and dialog. One thing to note, there is no controller support. In fact, the mouse is not even used. My entire play through consisted of using the directional keys and spacebar.
After a while it can get old with this setup, and the beginning is rather difficult due to the fact that the main hero dies in one hit. It is not until later on in the game (when health bars are unlocked) that the gameplay becomes a little easier. In fact, once this happens, players likely won’t die at all. Once completed, players can go back and re-visit areas they have already explored with their newly evolved game play mechanics to find more chests with hidden stars and player cards.
Even though it may be a rather short experience, and the controls can be rather tiresome, I can’t really downplay Evoland. The satire on the entire evolution of games and the comical use of RPG tropes had me playing and smiling throughout my experience. For only $10, you get a rather charming title that never overstays its welcome. I was hoping for more by the end, but it didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the overall experience.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.