Evoland reminds me of a game called BiT Evolution, that I reviewed a while back. At the time I played BiT Evolution, I thought the concept was a fantastic idea, but the execution in that game was pretty dreadful. Recently though, I did see Evoland advertised to me on Steam, so I thought I’d see if they could create a game more worthy of the idea.
Evoland does look and feel, in all it’s different themes, a lot like the Legend of Zelda series. It starts off with a very strong Link’s Awakening vibe, and then progressing through to a combination of a Final Fantasy game with the visual style of Majora’s Mask. Going through and grabbing upgrades to both your character and the world around you is a pretty nifty way to present the game. Every time you find a graphics upgrade or an upgrade that changes the battle mechanics, you get a great feeling of progression. The combination of the two titans of the industry as well was an inspired decision by Shiro Games. Having dungeon parts similar to what you’d find in a Zelda game, with a bunch of nasties marauding around waiting for you to batter them, and Final Fantasy style random battles in the overworld scene is a nice mash up.
Something Evoland excels at is the numerous puzzles around the game. Some are really well designed, especially later in the game where more of the mechanics that you’ve collected throughout the game come in to play. There are a few pretty pants ones, but in general they scale well with the game, giving you plenty to think about as you proceed through the game.
When I say Zelda-lite, I really should emphasise the lite part. While the visuals and mechanics are somewhat similar, the story on offer is pretty poor. You’ll probably see it through in a few hours, and that’s not terrible for an indie game, but there is very little to it. It is loaded with Easter eggs and references, but that isn’t really conducive to a strong story, as they do rely fairly heavily on them to pad out the story. The humour is quite good, and Evoland has got a bit of a tale in there somewhere, but it definitely didn’t come out very well. They hit the standard RPG tropes, and if they expanded on them at all, it would probably have been a bit more enjoyable than what they presented.
There are a bunch of collectables in Evoland – stars, gold and cards. The latter is quite interesting and offers a relatively fun mini game, but the former two are largely pointless. Other than in the first village where you need to buy some equipment, there isn’t really very much else to buy. Stars are hidden away quite well, but there is no point to actually going out of your way to collect them in terms of advancing the game. They have zero bearing on anything in the game and only serve as padding to force achievement hunters to explore every possible pointless corner on the map.
The Final Word
Evoland isn’t that bad, but I wouldn’t say it was ever going to be a classic. Much like BiT Evolution, the underlying concept is decent, and it is executed fairly well, but there are a number of drawbacks that let it down. It never felt like it settled on being it’s own game or just an homage of Final Fantasy and the Legend of Zelda. It’s not necessarily a bad game, but for £7, it’s definitely overpriced. If it were priced a few quid cheaper then it’d be worth the experience, but it’s just very short and lacking in any real content.