Evoland is an RPG that explores the history of RPGs. Rather, it is not a definitive history of RPGs, but a smattering of the more popular ones such as: Final Fantasy, The Legend of Zelda, DragonQuest, and Diablo. The game is about the evolution of RPGs, as its name suggests.
The game starts out in black and white (like a Game Boy game) and as it progresses, the history of RPGs progresses along with it. The hero starts out without a name, without any abilities and has to unlock abilities and even color as the game moves on. The ability to move left is the first ability you gain. Later, you unlock new weapons, items, 16-bit graphics and sound, and the ability to move omnidirectionally and even the THIRD DIMENSION! Much of the unlocking feels like another game that came out recently -- DLC Quest, and that's fine.
Most of the game is spent in the overhead view in dungeons, forest locations, towns, and the overworld map (after you unlock that). Battles are originally fought in Legend of Zelda style action RPG. Later, some battles are fought Final Fantasy 1-9 style side view, complete with requisite battle music. In fact, the game does a phenomenal job of mimicking the music and sound effects of Zelda and the Final Fantasy games (Final Fantasy VII in particular).
One of the strengths of this game is the humor, be it from a tongue and cheek look back at how clunky RPGs could be, to staples that we have in RPGs. We even have a spiky haired hero with a gigantic sword that looks suspiciously like the buster sword. The references to other RPGs may be lost to new or younger gamers who did not grow up with or play RPGs throughout the years. However, for those of us who did, the references are nice and often quite funny. Evoland even has its own card game that plays the same way as the Triple Triad card game from Final Fantasy VIII.
Evoland is a fun game, but it is not perfect. It is a short game, clocking in at under 6 hours for completionists and shorter yet for non-completionists. It's worth going for the completionist status on this game since there isn't really that much backtracking (and you get an airship even at the end of the game) and there's not too many fetch quests, which are known to be aggravating. i feel like Evoland had to put the fetch quest in the game, due to the history.
Towards the end of the game, one cave moves the game towards more modern RPGs like Diablo III. This cave also has some League of Legends references in it. This cave is where the grapics with the unlocked dynamic lighting effects make the game look its finest. After the cave, it's back to the FF overworld. One cool feature is the ability to travel back to old places and see how changed they look in 3D and with better graphics, though some places do not change and you're transported back to the old graphics. Some of the puzzles require hitting a crystal to switch between 2D and 3D. This is reminiscent to Link to the Past with its world switching and is a nice feature.
Another possible pitfall with the game is that the difficulty is not very high and hardcore gamers may be turned off by that, but for the most part we should forgive that since the game is a comedic piece more than anything. One thing that is irritating in the game is the frequency of random battles. They happen far too often and is equally irritating here as it is in other RPGs. Related to this issue is that there is not enough variety to the monsters that you battle. This adds to the repetitiveness of combat.
Bottom LineEvoland is a short, but entertaining game for a low price. i picked it up on Steam for $4.99 recently. It's worth putting in a few hours and seeing how RPGs have evolved.
7 out of 10
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