Evoland is an intriguing attempt to reconstruct video game history over the previous many decades. It is a parody of renowned productions as well as their critique. The designers pose several questions to the recipients of their little works. What shape will video games take in the future years? Are we still replicating and duplicating the same commercial trends that dominated years ago?
But let’s start from the beginning. We begin the voyage in a two-dimensional, monochrome environment of vacant meadows and woodlands. Without music, weaponry, or even speech, we are a nameless hero that resembles Link from The Legend of Zelda from the start. We can only move horizontally, right and left at first. We are, however, rapidly unlocking the first chests that contain enhancements to the game mechanics or audiovisual settings. By exploring Evoland, we discover additional chests and activate surprises from the history of video game creation. We rapidly learn to walk in any direction, select our first melee weapon and a bow, beat the adversaries we face, and our senses are calmed by stereo music, an expanding palette of hues, and a live, three-dimensional environment.
However, our nameless hero isn’t only interested in collecting chests and making devs laugh. No, what is it? We will acquire better equipment from local merchants than the one found in the forest after we visit a nearby town and ingest a growth seed in its subsurface. Then we’ll travel north in pursuit of unforgettable activities. After a few steps, we will come upon a wounded girl who will seek for our assistance. This is where a selection screen will appear saying: “Help a stranger? Yes/No”. Surprisingly, the “No” option is deactivated; you just cannot choose it. This is one of many instances in the game where the authors wink at the player and say, “Look, games are contractual, theoretically you have freedom of choice, but some things you simply have to agree to in order to move the story along.” As befits a gentleman, we save the woman while also learning that the world of Evoland and its inhabitants are in peril. As a result, we assist an aspirant sorceress in obtaining an ancient item and defeating the Evil that threatens the lovely area. By the way, our blond hero introduces himself to the stranger, whose names sound remarkably comparable to Aeris and Cloud from Final Fantasy VII. It’s no surprise that the developers of Evoland copy and mock the finest video game characters. There are several references to the Zelda, Final Fantasy, Diablo, Mario, Bomberman, and role-playing games in general.
When we explore dungeons, woodlands, and caverns, we view our hero or heroine from an isometric projection, from a close distance. When we march on the globe map, though, the camera zooms out almost to a bird’s eye view. Exploring Evoland immediately brings to mind Link’s travels or the Diablo series, in which we fight vast numbers of monsters and solve easy puzzles by using melee weapons, firing a bow, and casting offensive spells. We will face a big number of spiders, skeletons, and wizards along the way, i.e. all the delinquents without whom no good role-playing game can exist. Moving across the area, in turn, is more reminiscent of the Final Fantasy series, where traveling on foot may result in being attacked by monsters hidden in the thick undergrowth. Then we monitor the battlefield from the sidelines, and our and our opponents’ attacks are divided into turns. The swarms of adversaries are mostly wandering mushrooms, gigantic turtles, or violent flowers, Mario’s plumber’s “colleagues,” and the battle system is a ripoff of Japanese RPG solutions. The game’s biggest benefit is probably the tale in a nutshell depicting the evolution of the electronic gaming industry in terms of mechanics and audiovisual setting. References to industry milestones, in addition to evolution, are quite relevant and intriguing. The authors are not disparaging other games, but in a humorous way, they call attention to aspects that are so familiar to us as players that we stop paying attention to them and accept them for what they are.
Have you ever noticed how seldom children appear in RPG games? Why is it that everyone in a hamlet or town continually complains that the golden days of this location are long gone? How do we unlock gates that have been closed for thousands of years by pushing convex tiles in dungeons? Do logic puzzles have to be easy? Why do we accumulate the majority of objects if they are primarily trash? Previously, gaming heroes died after a single hit, and we frequently had to restart their travels. Health regenerates automatically nowadays, and there are save stations at every stage. Is the video game business evolving in the correct way? Is it progressing at all? Most of the questions posed in this text will most likely go unanswered during the game, but it’s an excellent opportunity to be startled, doubt, and contemplate like a classic philosopher. And these are the best reasons to acquire the game, for while Evoland has undeniable charm, it is a very middling game. The arcade combat is quite rigid, making it artificially tough and frustrating. Even if animation is not the peak of 21st-century technology, it may occasionally slow down to many frames per second. In turn, the storyline is as straightforward as in most role-playing games. A basic but thought-provoking and engrossing card game is a good addition. Regrettably, we can only play games with one computer opponent at various difficulty levels.
A salute to the creators for a nostalgic tone, layers of wonderful comedy, and philosophical pondering. Aside than that, it’s an unpleasant short and only good narrative.