Here’s an indie game I bet you don’t remember.
Evoland was never a grand indie gem. It didn’t take the world by storm, like Shovel Knight or The Messenger. But I always had a nostalgic soft spot for it. And I believe I mentioned earlier this week that I’ve been on a trip through memory lane. So, when I saw both games were on sale in the E-Shop for the Switch, I just couldn’t help myself!
But then I played it. And my rose-tinted goggles shattered.
This game has an identity crisis so bad that it makes Cloud Strife look stable! It can’t decide if it’s a classic-style Zelda game, a Final Fantasy turn-based RPG, or a Diablo clone. It doesn’t delve into any idea long enough to fully bake them into a delicious treat. Because of this rapidly changing gameplay style, it manages to be none of these things.
Simply put: this is the video game equivalent of a teenager who hasn’t figured out who they are yet.
Story: wait, there was a story?!
This is the section that really makes you feel that one-hour playtime. Yeah, this isn’t a very long game.
The plot of this game is just as half-baked as the gameplay. It’s your typical ‘Dark Lord’ plot. Some dark magical force is killing the world, and it’s up to you to stop it. Pretty basic stuff.
I’ll be honest with you: if you’re playing this game for the plot, you need to go play something else. The writing here is just as bad as the first story I ever wrote, which was back when I was eleven/twelve years old. None of the characters have any personality or depth.
If you want a game with a good story, go play something else. As in, anything else. You wouldn’t be hard-pressed to find a Kirby game with a deeper and more interesting plot.
Visuals: Gradual Evolution
This is the only aspect of the game that has any true identity.
Gradual evolution is the name of the game. In the beginning, the game is a 2D Gameboy style game. As you progress, you gradually unlock more and more visual and gameplay features, expanding the game’s scope. By the end, you’ll have a Gamecube style 3D game with a few HD textures.
Honestly, the visuals are still mediocre at best. The music isn’t especially great or memorable. None of the characters or monsters have any memorable designs. While gradually improving the visuals of the game is cool, it lacks any real impact or satisfaction.
This was the whole point of the game, and it fell flat on its face. Well done.
Gameplay: What am I, Father?
In terms of actual gameplay, Evoland has three identities. None of them are especially good.
The first and most prominent identity is that of a Zelda game. You run around in a top-down perspective and slay monsters. You even get a bow and some bombs to spice up your abilities. Unfortunately, the controls are super clunky, the hitboxes are wonky, and the attack range of your weapons is so pitiful that it makes me want to scream!
The second identity is that of an FF7 Clone. You even get Cloud’s sword! Unfortunately, the two members of the party you get are so basic it hurts! Your character can swing his sword, the girl can cast all of one healing spell and one attack spell, and both can use items. There is no MP system, enemies deal pitiful damage and die super quickly, and you don’t get any extra abilities until the end of the fucking game! And guess what: the super special ultimate ability you get is: the hero hits things slightly harder with his sword.
This is why people hate turn-based combat.
The third and final identity, which they only use one time, is that of a Diablo clone. Unfortunately, you don’t have any of the spells, items, or other mechanics that spice up the gameplay in those kinds of games. All you can do is run around, mash the attack button, grab any items that come your way, and move on. It is so lackluster, so bare-bones, that it nearly had me looking to the fucking BIBLE for help! Playing through this part wasn’t just mediocre; it was downright painful!
The most fleshed-out and interesting game in this game is the optional card mini-game! You have a hand of cards with separate numeric values on each side, and you need to place them to get a higher score than your opponent. If you put a card of higher value next to the enemy’s card, you take that and add it to your own score. It is very deep, but it has just enough depth to be super fun!
Shame you need to scour the infuriating levels to find all the cards. On that note: the dungeons in this game are dog shit! Each one is infuriating, stuffed to the brim with poorly designed traps that will get you (and not in the fair, fun way, like Dark Souls) and introduce all-new varieties of hellish and annoying enemies!
Jesus Christ, how did I fall in love with this game? This fucking sucks!
Playing through Evoland again was one of the most disappointing returns to a game from my youth I’ve ever had. My nostalgia goggles were completely shattered, and the shrapnel immediately blinded me for life. It bit me straight in the ass.
Do not play Evoland. It has some great ideas, but it doesn’t give any of them the time or depth they need to be great! Sure, it only takes an hour to beat it. But that’s an hour of your life you could spend doing literally anything else!
Like playing the significantly better Evoland 2!