Evoland Review: A Fitting Tribute to the RPG Genre

by David Sanchez April 30, 2013 @ 11:26 pm

Evoland - Feature

If you’ve ever invested hours upon hours of your life on classic RPGs, you should probably check out Evoland. Chances are you’ll really dig it and have a lot of fun with it. The game is by no means perfect — in fact, it’s quite far from perfect. That said, Evoland is most certainly a good game, and it’s a great homage to iconic titles such as The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and even Diablo. For that reason, and because developer Shiro Games went out of its way to really embrace the constant change of the genres it celebrates, old school RPG and action-adventure nuts should invest the required $10 on this highly entertaining game.

You play as a nameless hero who’s tasked with saving the land and, well, honestly, you probably already know the story by now, so there’s no reason for me to go on about it. Seriously, it’s not even all that deep. The first thing you need to understand is that Evoland isn’t here to revolutionize RPGs, it’s here to give you a history lesson on the genre, and that remains true in its basic “save the day” plot.

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The hook in this adventure is constant evolution, as its name suggests. As you play, you come across various treasure chests, and more often than not, opening these up will cause a dynamic change in Evoland. That nameless hero of yours, for example, can eventually be named once you find the appropriate treasure chest. That’s just one of the many shifts you come across, though. The more you play Evoland, the more you discover, and the more the game changes right before your very eyes.

A lot of the time, treasure chests will offer up graphical changes, and you go from playing a monochrome, pixelated quest to witnessing a colorful, smooth visual treat. Thankfully, if you dig the old school art like I did, you don’t have to say goodbye to it entirely. One of the more puzzling sections in Evoland actually has you switching between the pixel and 3D graphics in order to progress. This part of the game is quite engaging and highly reminiscent of puzzles found in older RPGs.

Of course, you don’t just get a change of scenery. Evoland remains interesting because it constantly introduces new gameplay mechanics. You can battle baddies in real time on a forest map, but it won’t be long before you unlock a dungeon rife with random encounters. Even combat doesn’t remain constant, though, and there are several areas that pit you against enemies in turn-based battles. You’ve got access to items, and you get a helpful magic-based partner early in the game, making for some entertaining moments.

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While I definitely enjoyed the combat parts of Evoland, I never felt that I was truly being challenged. Attacks and magic spells have infinite uses, and even when I ran out of potions, I always had my partner character’s heal command to keep me from failing. The result was a fun little combat idea that’s anything but deep, even if it is pretty cool to try out the different mechanics in a short period of time.

Another issue I had with Evoland was the constant backtracking. Fetch quests were a common part of many a game in eras gone by, and modern titles are certainly no strangers to this rather annoying trope. Still, while this particular game manages to successfully poke fun at these questionable sequences, it still relies on them a few times to the point where you’ll get tired of going back and forth repeatedly.

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While I enjoyed every aspect of the graphics seen in Evoland, the same can’t be said of the game’s music. Sure, it’s pretty good, but it loops far too soon, and staying in a certain area for a lengthy period of time (which you’re bound to do) means you get to (read: have to) listen to the same music over and over (and over) again. It’s a shame, too, because as previously stated, the music of Evoland is fun to listen to during those first few seconds when it’s not repeating ad nauseam.

You can get through this cheery RPG tribute in just about four hours. There are hidden collectibles to discover in treasure chests and even a fun card game to check out. The latter is surprisingly addictive, and I found myself playing it way more than I thought I could (or should). You could argue that the asking price is a bit steep, but what you get with Evoland is a game that knows what it’s doing: This game is taking many of the mechanics that we’ve seen in RPGs and strategically setting up an endeavor that shows the step-by-step changes that the genre has gone through, in the process creating a ride that’s consistently enjoyable, always self-aware, and often funny. Evoland isn’t the type of game you play because you’re looking for a new RPG, it’s a game you play because you like RPGs, period.

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