Sunday, June 30, 2013

Evoland: A Little Rough Around the Edges

June has nearly come to an end, and I still haven't written a single article. It's tough working six days a week, but it doesn't help that I've been trying to play three games simultaneously. So I figured I'd try to play through a short indie game and write a quick review of it, and on an impulse bought Evoland for $9.99 on Steam. Less than 48 hours later, and before I'd actually started playing the game, Evoland went on sale on both Steam and GOG for $4.99. So the lesson learned is this: never buy a game unless it's on sale, because it will surely go on sale immediately after you buy it.

Evoland is supposed to be a nostalgic tribute to classic action/adventure/RPGs like Zelda and Final Fantasy. The gimmick, here, is that the game progressively "evolves" from the historic roots of video games up to something more modern. The gameplay begins at its most basic, with visuals reminiscent of the original GameBoy; as you play, you unlock extra mechanics (like background music, health meters, save points, etc) and watch as the graphics steadily upgrade themselves to that of the early GameCube. It's an intriguing premise that does manage to kindle nostalgic memories of fonder times, but is the game itself any good?

Unfortunately, the full game experience doesn't quite deliver on the great potential of the premise. We've all replayed some of our favorite games hoping to relive childhood passions, but the problem with Evoland is that it merely reminds us of other games, without offering much substance of its own. That's good for jogging fond memories (which is without a doubt fairly low-hanging fruit), but the experience rarely transcends simple nostalgia. It's basically like the game is trying to stand solely on references without having its own unique stamp to tie everything together. Don't get me wrong -- the "evolution" gimmick is very unique, but that's not enough to carry the weight of a $10 game.