As a child, my favourite games were always those that offered a sense of adventure. My childhood favourite games are Golden Axe, The Secret of Mana, and anything else with a hero. As I grew older, my taste in games didn’t change, however I did (as a lot of gamers do) become slightly jaded. During the height of the RPG genre (the mid to late 90’s) I played a few RPGs, then began ignoring others, for inane reasons. I kept this semi-cynical approach to games to the present day, on the odd occasion.
Two days ago, a game released that had piqued my interest with a trailer some time ago, due to it’s nostalgic presentation.
Shiro Games released their humble yet ambitious RPG ‘Evoland’, and given it’s cheap price, I decided to take a risk on a game from a developer I knew nothing about. I’m so glad I did.
After one minute of playing Evoland the jaded and grumpy gamer I had become over the years had melted away, and I kid you not, Evoland had given me the excitement and enthusiasm for adventure I have not felt since I was child.
So, what is Evoland? Evoland is a role-playing-game which begins in the early 8-bit era of games and progresses both in gameplay and graphics to the modern era of gaming. Players assume the role of “Clink” (who’s design is an homage to both Cloud from Final Fantasy VII and Link from the Legend of Zelda) who as you may have guessed, is destined to be a hero.
At the game’s beginning, you begin Clink’s journey by simply wandering in a linear path towards treasure chests, defeating 8-bit monsters as you go. You have no health, so one hit from a monster will kill you, and you will have to restart. Avoiding death and encountering more treasure chests will grant you all manner of advancements for the game, including 16-bit graphics, sound, 8-directional movement and hearts for health. Eventually, the game gains a story, additional characters, modern graphics and sound, and countless other features. Upon opening a chest, there’s a clever reference or joke about the unlocked item, and the joy of unlocking items never, ever gets old.
A clever advantage of playing through the different eras of gaming is that the game needs no annoying tutorial, and that because you learn every single piece of gameplay and story one-by-one, you are fully informed and competent with the game’s controls and difficulty every step of the way, which is refreshing.
Another way the game benefits by journeying through the different eras of gaming is how much more meaningful the story feels. At the beginning of the game, Clink is a simple entity, he has no greater purpose, and is a lone wanderer. By the time we reach the modern era, it truly feels as though you have spent countless hours (in a good way) on an immense journey that could mean the end of the world if you fail. You’ll grow into an adult, become stronger, make friends, enemies and encounter emotional story events. Absolutely everything about the story and gameplay in Evoland without hyperbole, is perfect.
The audience that Evoland is aimed at will truly appreciate it’s graphics, and art style. Anybody looking for Crysis 3 graphical performance should look elsewhere, as sheer graphical prowess isn’t the aim for Evoland that Shiro Games had in mind.
What they did have in mind, however, works, and works brilliantly. Pixels and textures in the 8-bit era are beautifully blocky, yet still manage to illustrate the various creatures and environments Clink encounters. The 16-bit era features Super Nintendo style graphics, boasting gorgeous sprites, and the 3D era, when finally reached, features pre-rendered backgrounds ala Final Fantasy and eventually, gains high-definition graphics.
To summarise, Evoland is just as much a treat to look at as it is to play.
Every aspect of developing Evoland got the attention it deserved, and the sound is no exception. The team at Shiro Games have done a tremendous job in both emulating the music and sound effects of different eras and games, while still having enough originality in the music to be enjoyable on its own. There are some dungeons in the game that look similar to dungeons in the Legend of Zelda, and the music serves as an homage perfectly. Eventually, you come accross villages that play and look like Final Fantasy VII, and the music sounds so much like it, Nobuo Uematsu himself would be both proud and impressed. The dark eery cavernous dungeons inspired by Diablo are met with appropriately scored dark and eery music. As I said before, everything sound-wise compliments Evoland’s visuals perfectly. Truly Fantastic.
- Beautiful and clever use of visual styles.
- Gorgeous soundtrack.
- Fun and simple gameplay.
- A little short.
I would recommend Evoland to any gamer who loves a classic RPG, or even any classic older title. Its both a fun and original title and also an amazing tribute to the greatest RPGs ever made. Its strange that I personally have not come accross a game with a similar concept, however I don’t think anyone else could have possibly pulled the same idea of as brilliantly as Shiro Games have done. I have never given a perfect score to a game before, but I will sing the praises of Evoland until my throat is sore, and even then it is not enough. For what it aims to achieve, this game is by definition, perfect. Well done, Shiro Games.
Score – 10/10