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Evoland (PC) Review

/ Apr 4th, 2013 No Comments

Evoland
Evoland

Evoland

Evoland is an action/adventure RPG for the PC. Shiro Games, an indie studio out of France founded by Sebastien Vidal and Nicolas Cannasse, developed Evoland. It is an “HD” upgrade of Evoland Classic, which was a Ludum Dare winner in 2012. The original game dealt primarily with the 2D era, but this game expands the scope venturing well into the 3D era. Truly a labor of love, the game was developed by a small team helmed by Cannasse and Vidal with help on the graphics by Etienne Makowski and Jeremy Vitry, and the music and sound handled by Camille Schoell. Drawing heavy inspiration from luminaries and stand-out titles in the action-adventure and RPG genre, Evoland sets out to tell the history of the genres through its gameplay and graphics. Does Evoland manage to channel what made its sources great and iconic?

Story

Evoland

From humble beginning…

The world of Evolandia has been at peace for centuries. However, as it tends to happen, an ancient evil has awoken. Long ago in the times of tumult existed the Order of the Dragon Knights that kept evil at bay, but most of them are gone. Now there only remains one Dragon Knight, who must traverse Evolandia to find the means to destroy this newish old menace. A hero sets off on a journey in a black and white 2D plane with static movement, but soon he finds a chest and his world changes. The more chest he finds, the more complex Evolandia becomes. His mission gains clarity when he rescues a fainted traveler, a young girl in pink. This new companion will reveal the true path to defeat the terrible threat bent on destroying existence.

Evoland’s story is straight forward, a young boy must embark on a journey to save the world and defeat an unimaginable evil. That is not the actual story though, what makes up the bulk of the game’s story is the meta-story happening parallel to it all. The game begins in a simple black and white 2D setting that only gains complexity as the player moves through the game and unlocks chests. Each chests adds something new to the game, first the player gets movement and then soon they get side scrolling until by the end of the game the graphics are in full 3D with HD textures. The game is certainly about evolution, not only of the game itself but of how the action-adventure and RPG genres have evolved since the early days of Miyamoto and Sakaguchi. As such, Evoland is littered with clever references to discover and humor that smartly comments on the genres it explores.

Gameplay

Evoland

Two is a party.

As a hybrid of the action-adventure and RPG genres, Evoland changes gameplay styles in the same way that its graphics evolve. There are three distinct styles at play in the game. The first is the action-adventure style popularized by the Legend of Zelda, the hero will explore fields and dungeons done in connected rooms. In these sections, the player will use a trusty sword to kill enemies and avoid attacks while keeping an eye on their heart meter. In addition, they will solve some puzzles and open up locked areas while discovering some hidden treasure chests. Eventually, the player gets access to some additional weapons outside of a sword. These weapons will open up secret areas or are more effective against certain enemies. The other type is active-time, turn-based random enemy encounters inspired by Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. In the areas with these enemy encounters, players control both the female and male protagonists (the name are omitted because they are delight to discover) and can choose various actions. The hero is the bruiser and he will mainly be used to attack, while the female lead is a magic user, so she can cast some spells against enemies. There is a third gameplay style, but it is such a delight when encountered that it is a disservice to spoil it.

Each of the game’s dungeons will alternate between the action-adventure gameplay and turn-based gameplay. The main overworld will feature only turn-base combat and fields will only have the hero exploring it similar to everyone’s favorite Hyrulian. Due to the game alternating between a number of different gameplay styles and adding elements to them much in the way the graphics change over time, the mechanics never get too crazy. Everything gets to the point and heart of what it is emulating, but never delves hugely deep into them. However, it is all satisfying and the boss fights are great.

Graphics and Sound

Evoland

3D means to duck and weave them fireballs.

It is difficult to describe Evoland’s graphics accurately because things change frequently. The game never quite settles down into a solid graphic style until near the end. Seeing the game in action and playing through it is the best way to experience its beautiful and eye catching art style and graphics. There is a huge achievement that it manages to tell the story of a genre from simple black and white 2D side scrolling graphics with static animations all the way to full 3D animations with antialiasing and rich textures. To appreciate the graphics is to play the game and discover the subtle and obvious details that occur. Evoland features a gorgeous soundtrack by Camille Shoell. The music is infectious, charming and addictive. Much like everything in the game, the music evolves as the player makes progress through the game. That is an achievement.

Overall

Evoland is truly an unique experience. It functions as a solid and well-made action-adventure/RPG. More than that though, it serves as a history lesson and a beautifully written love letter to the genres it emulates. For fans of RPGs and action-adventure games, there is little to no reason not to give Evoland a play through. The only issue with the game is that is lives up to its short-story namesake and is over too soon, but it is satisfying up until its last moment. This game should be given to all younger gamers, ones that first Final Fantasy is entirely 3D or who have only played Twilight Princess, because this will show them an accurate history of the genre.

EVOLAND (PC) REVIEW

Gaming Illustrated RATING

Overall87%

GAMEPLAY8

Switching between two distinct styles leads to a nice variety and will be a treat to fans of the genres, but since it never locks down a single style, the mechanics can never delve that deep. That said, the gameplay is fun and satisfying even in its simplicity.

GRAPHICS9

Graphically, Evoland covers the breadth of graphic styles starting from simple black and white sprites up to fully rendered 3D models. The means by which it delivers these dynamic graphics is something that needs to be witness to properly appreciate.

SOUND9

A beautifully done soundtrack that matches the love crafted into the other evolving aspects of Evoland.

STORY9

The plot is fairly standard for the genre, but the humor and cleverness of the meta-story is something to behold. It achieves something special and serves as a tome for these beloved genres.

Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. Currently, he lives in Tustin, California. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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EVOLAND (PC) REVIEW

Gaming Illustrated RATING

Overall87%

GAMEPLAY8

Switching between two distinct styles leads to a nice variety and will be a treat to fans of the genres, but since it never locks down a single style, the mechanics can never delve that deep. That said, the gameplay is fun and satisfying even in its simplicity.

GRAPHICS9

Graphically, Evoland covers the breadth of graphic styles starting from simple black and white sprites up to fully rendered 3D models. The means by which it delivers these dynamic graphics is something that needs to be witness to properly appreciate.

SOUND9

A beautifully done soundtrack that matches the love crafted into the other evolving aspects of Evoland.

STORY9

The plot is fairly standard for the genre, but the humor and cleverness of the meta-story is something to behold. It achieves something special and serves as a tome for these beloved genres.

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