Fun retro adventure
Relive the early days of adventure games
Time travel puzzle mechanics
Repetitive and boring combat
Lack of innovation (aside from the game's concept)
Final score: 7 / 10
Controller support: Yes
Processor: 1.7 GHz single-core
Memory: 1 GB RAM
Graphics: Directx 9.0c-compatible video card
Hard Drive: 100 MB HD space
Ever wanted to learn more about the history of action-adventure and role-playing games, and how they evolved from rudimentary monochrome graphics to today’s 3D masterpieces?
Indie developer Shiro Games promises to take you through a brief history of the genre using elements from some of the most iconic titles (Zelda, Final Fantasy, Diablo, etc).
Is Evoland able to use the core mechanics of those popular titles to create a unique adventure through the history of action-adventure games or does it fail miserably? Let’s find out!
Evoland started as a simple LudumDare entry created in about 30 hours and proved to be winning material for the competition. Receiving positive feedback from fans around the world, indie developer Shiro Games thought to take the idea further and create a bigger and more refined version of the game.
The story is simple: after centuries of peace, an ancient evil has resurfaced and threatens the world of Evolandia. You take the role of one of the few remaining members of the Order of The Dragon Knights, whose purpose is to travel the world and help the ones in need.
Start from the 8-bit era...
...and battle funny enemies
The adventure starts off with rudimentary controls like basic movement and screen scrolling, all transposed in a monochromatic GameBoy-ish world. After locating and opening some chests, the game starts to evolve and introduces some new game mechanics and visual styles.
The most fun part of the game mainly swirls around these chests, as they make you develop an urge to find more and more of them to see what else you can unlock in this fantastic world.
Finding a sword will help you defeat enemies which, in the first half hour or so, can be lethal if they manage to land a single hit on your nameless character. Yes, I said nameless because to even be able to name your hero you must find the chest that unlocks character names.
As you progress through the adventure, you will be able to unlock various graphics modes from the simple 8-bit color mode to more complex 3D textures, culminating with HD graphics that give the game a well-deserved boost in visual quality.
The sword is not the only weapon that you can wield in your adventures. Later on, our hero will be able to use bombs and bows to make his way through previously unavailable areas. No need to worry though, he doesn't take an arrow to the knee.
The game also features some interesting “time travel” puzzles later in the story, where you will have to hit some crystals in order to switch between 3D and 2D versions of the same area and benefit from the advantages that each world offers.
Whether you want it or not, your adventure will be filled with random combat encounters where you can choose attack and defense skills from a list, much like the turn-based battles in Final Fantasy.
These random encounters require no thought on how to approach the enemies and turn out to be just an annoying formality of choosing the attack command until all your foes are defeated.
Not even the addition of Kaeris, your healer companion, adds many tactics to these encounters that start to be more like a burden as the game progresses.
Later on, you will get the chance to use your new skills in a dungeon swarming with enemies. These enemies will drop piles of coins and random gear upon death, mimicking the early Diablo titles. The loot will be automatically equipped and, although it’s supposed to give you various bonuses, in reality it does nothing more than be a superficial reference to those early game mechanics.
Besides the main chests that unlock new features of the game, in your travels you will also find other chests that contain collectibles and unlock achievements. In reality, these chests are there to prolong gameplay rather than add more value to it.
Reaching Kaeris’s town will also give you access to a small minigame that uses the collectible cards you found during your journey. The minigame features multiple difficulties to test your skills, but, in order to beat the last one, you must find or buy some very rare cards.
Visually, the game looks great, from its monochrome beginnings all the way to HD textures, with vibrant colors that blend perfectly with the retro atmosphere.
The soundtrack is splendid from the very first 8-bit tunes and manages to bring back some good old memories from the early days of adventure titles. Conclusion
Evoland takes you on a wonderful adventure through the history of action-adventure titles starting from their early days. The game might be a little frustrating because of the repetitive random encounters and lack of more complex combat mechanics, but these few hours of gameplay will surely be enjoyed not only by Zelda or Final Fantasy fans, but also by some of the younger gamers. It’s all about reliving the nostalgia of those early gaming days through the adventures of a somewhat familiar hero.