The game is all about the evolution of RPGs and its various offshoots. You begin the game with little more than 8-bit “colourless” (greeny grey like the game boy) visuals and gradually work your way up through the various mechanics, aesthetics and visual upgrades that are mostly unmissable. Aside from beginning with basic graphics, you also start with the bare minimum of controls. Going at a pace that; due to lack of story for the first few unlocks, exceeds that of most tutorials you will quickly learn the ropes and start to add features such as monsters directional movement and so on.
The game shines brightest during these early stages in the game as well as in some of the later hidden levels due to taking the Zelda inspired approach to exploration and combat. You wander around the area, killing whatever you can with the sharp end of your sword until you find whatever it is you are looking for; be it an item, unlock or destination. These levels show how effective these pure and basic mechanics work and why they still work.
As for the other combat systems I can’t quite agree. Turn based battles are fine at times but the random battles that accompany it is the problem. The turn based sections obviously take from Final Fantasy and its ilk but making the combat and options as basic as they are in these sections make it much more of a grind than it should be. Whilst you have a second party member, it’s not so much of an issue but while you are roaming around with just the hero it can really make the levels drag on.
The game does flirt with a few other styles in other dungeons, most notably one which has some of the Action RPG trappings like tonnes of loot and hordes of enemies to slice through. It bares less of a resemblance to Diablo/torchlight and is more like YS Origins and games of that sort. On the most part it works and is great to see in the game but it quickly reverts to the older methods as you turn back to turn based combat in random battles across the world map.
The problem the game has is how quickly it slows down. As you are upgrading less and get stuck in particular styles it loses its pacing. It would have been great to see a slightly more expanded look onto how RPGs evolved due to the game leaving its history in the early noughties. RPGs have come a long way since then and some of the older genres/subgenres aren’t portrayed as well as more recent (if not more technically advanced) one either.
Regardless of how the game plays it still shows a great love of the source materials and it shows so very strongly. It is something that anyone interested in game or art design should pick up and play through as it gives a great run-through of all the different types of art and gameplay styles. It also helps heighten some of the inherent weaknesses in those designs as well as their strengths.
The story is light and for good reason, it deals with a few tropes that permeate through many RPGs’ storylines. The strength of the parody writing in certain elements of the game is much higher and some jokes are well hidden within the games world waiting for you to find them.
Presentation and Audio
Presentation wise it looks pretty beautiful (so long as you find the chests that unlock textures in the latter graphic styles) and the same is true of the audio. Each does right by the era and style of game it is mimicking but as the game continues into the latter half you may find it gets a little stale as you still expect complete overhauls that mimic the past 10 or so years of RPGs.
The gameplay works best when you are constantly upgrading or when you are in a small area full of combat, puzzles and hidden unlockables. Because it distils many staple gameplay systems to its basic elements; some of them aren’t fun and it shows all the more because of how much it is used. The card game is a nice little way to spend some time, should you have spent even a few minutes collecting them.
Evoland is a game that I can wholly recommend to any lover of games and their history; even more so to someone with a love of RPGs or game design. As the game only uses surface level mechanics for some of the gameplay styles the flaws in these systems become more evident and also lack the “fun” some contain because of how basic it is. If you are looking for something that is more than just the gameplay pick it up without hesitation but if RPGs aren’t your thing I’d be hard pressed to recommend it.
I still think that there are some aspects of RPGs that could be delved into after this game. It has a great understanding of everything within the game as well as all the sources it is inspired by but it could well be expanded on with some other more recent advancements. Because of how well it pinpoints the specific mechanics of each gameplay style, I’d love to see how Shiro Games would handle other games that fall under the RPG umbrella.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.