Awhile back when I was reporting news for a small gaming site, I wrote a little preview about an upcoming game called Evoland. While I wrote news about a lot of games that did little to arouse my interest, Evoland was not the case. What really woke my thirst for this game was that it had a small little free version of the game that essentially gave the gist of what it was all about. I am always a fan of things I can play for free before buying.
You can find Evoland Classic, the name the free version adopted, at the end of this article. However today I want to discuss the full version of the game that was released recently.
Evoland is a game exclusive to the PC platform that was developed and distributed by Shiro Games. It was released on April 4th, 2013 at a nice low price of $9.99.
So what is Evoland exactly? It is your basic RPG. You play the classic hero as he cuts his way through dungeons full of monsters to defeat the big bad of the world and save it. There is nothing complex about the story of this game. To be honest though, people do not play Evoland for the plot. What really draws people in is its gameplay.
The game starts off as a basic old school RPG, however as you explore the world and open chests things begin to change. With almost every chest you open, the world changes--Evolves, if you will.. The graphics change from 8-bit to 16-bit early on, then later make the jump from 2D to 3D. The music jumps from a few basic tones rhythmically arranged into a full score. You gain the ability to fight your way through the world old school Zelda style then eventually it evolves to an homage to Final Fantasy's turn based battle platform. Eventually the battle system evolves so much that you are hacking your way through dungeons Diablo style.
In recent years, there have been a lot of games that try their hand at paying homage to the "retro" style of gaming, however most of them end up feeling hollow and bland. There have been so few retro style games that can actually be classified as fun in this modern age of gaming. This game finds the line between nostalgia and innovation and does a balancing act that makes for a fantastic game. Evoland pulls elements heavily from both Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy and makes it fun. I mean, what gaming fan would not want to play a game that was a mix of those two? Critics of the gaming industry have often stated that the perfect RPG would be a harmonious mix of both games.
Evoland is by no means a perfect RPG, mostly because it lacks an interesting story. However, it does show a lot of love and is a perfect homage to the evolution of gaming. I personally enjoy it because I feel it is a great educational history of gaming. Those who did not grow up in the era "retro" gaming before it was considered retro often have an extreme lack of knowledge of how far games have come since then. This is a great game to educate young nerds.
I lost hours to the classic free version of Evoland and I lost days to this more developed version. It seems basic, but once you start opening those chests and seeing and hearing how the world evolves, you find it really hard to stop. You try to walk away and go cook dinner, but you simply MUST find out what is in that next chest!
With the free version, you can get the gist of the game. It stops just short of the 3D era. This new polished game goes beyond that and even delves into an HD era of gaming. Since the price tag is so low, I believe it is worth the one time splurge of $9.99 especially since that is directly supporting the single man who first coded the free version.
Evoland Classic was originally coded for the Ludum Dare game making competition and was coded single handedly by Nicholas Cannasse (Co-founder of Shiro Games) in just 30 short hours. It won first place in the competition of that year and so naturally, when Cannasse founded Shiro Games they decided to make it their first project. I think learning about the games' history just makes me love it all the more. As you play the classic version, just think about how all that was accomplished in little over a day.
With all the love I have for this game, surely I can find some flaws. Even the greatest games have flaws. Of course, Evoland has its flaws. The biggest one is the replay value. Once you have beat the game, you have pretty much seen everything there is to see. Sure near the end the game you can travel around in the 'Final Fantasy must-have' airship and do dungeons are a quick laugh or the some hilarious yet ultimately pointless gear, but that is about it. Really the only things that are wrong with this game is not what is there, but what is not. The story lacks any sort of depth and it is really a one play through kind of game.
However, considering this game is more of an educational RPG parody type of game, a genre that is not often found, I can personally excuse these flaws. I mean, the game was more so meant to show off its evolution niche and elicit a few cheap laughs from gamers. It is most certainly a game that does not want to be taken seriously and does not take itself seriously.
If you have been reading all this time or just scrolled down to the bottom to find the free version of Evoland, you can play it here. I guarantee you will lose at least an hour playing around on it.