Breaking My Backlog #17 – Evoland

I had never heard of Evoland before last week. Oh, I had bought it a few years back. Or, I had unlocked it in a Humble Bundle or something to that effect. But, I had never actually heard of it. Which is unfortunate, because I think it’s one of the more original and unique games I’ve played in a long time.

Evoland is an RPG that builds itself from the ground up by unlocking technical advances as you play the game. In short, it’s a three- to four-hour journey through the major points in the history of RPGs, starting with early computers and ending somewhere near the Playstation 1. As you play the game, you find chests that contain items that change the game world in real time. For example, one of the first items you find is the “right key,” which allows your character to move right. Later upgrades include dynamic sound and 3d graphics. Where you finally end up is something that looks kind of like Final Fantasy VII.

I think Evoland is one of those examples of why I love indie games. It’s not perfect, but it tries to do something new. And it succeeds just enough to make it all worth it.

It’s quite frankly a lot fun to travel through this history, especially if you lived it firsthand. I remember playing many games that fit within the styles presented in Evoland, and I remember marveling at each technological advancement as it happened. The advances in Evoland are truncated, of course, but they give new context to the history. Simply put, it’s a hell of a thing to see twenty years of advances in a few hours, and the progression is something that Evoland does really well. It’s a gimmick, really, but it’s a gimmick that could only exist in one place: independent video games. The developers, Shiro Games, wanted to say something with this game, and they say it. And you can tell that the developers have a real love for the history of RPGs,

As an RPG, it’s a bit of a mixed-bag. The action-RPG parts are done well enough, though the hitboxes are way janky. And the turn-based RPG parts are also well-done, but the developers made some interesting choices in menu-ing. Specifically, I couldn’t figure out how to use items or spells outside of battle. Maybe I missed some item to unlock that, but I was fairly thorough in my playthrough. At any rate, overall, the actual gameplay is serviceable. It ultimately takes a backseat to the gimmick of the game, which is fine by me. Had the game been longer, I might have a different opinion of that, but as it is, the gimmick was more than enough to keep me playing.

There’s not much more to say about the game, I think. It’s a simple game with a simple gimmick, but it achieves what it sets out to do. And, considering that, I think it’s well worth your time.

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