Evoland: a beautiful land of countable pixels, dungeon exploring and simple combat – until you open some more chests.
When the adventure begins, it looks like something out of the 90’s game boy range; the world is black and white and very simple. It was a fascinating game to play, straightforward yet captivating, definitely an instant classic. Throughout there are numerous references and parodies of some of the most well known games in history, including The Legend of Zelda, Pokémon, Final Fantasy and Diablo.
You embark on your adventure as a nameless young boy in a strange land, once you reach the first town a potion gives you the ability to name your character, and the story continues as a classic RPG does, vaguely. Not much is explained as you explore caves, dungeons and towns, fighting different enemies and the occasional boss. The story climaxes and ends incredibly fast, just as you hit the meat of the game and obtain all abilities/upgrades, it’s over.
This is okay sinceEvoland’s main focus is on interacting with the history of video games and only takes into account the major advancements in the RPG genre. This evolution happens while battling a large variety of recognizable monsters and enemies, who also follow the evolutionary trend. Combat isn't too exciting and has very little depth as it is all done through the use of spacebar, even when the battle jumps from action based to turn based it continues to use one key. While there are a few different weapons, such as a bow and also bombs, you rarely use them in anything other than a few of the clever puzzles.
The soundtrack is probably the most outstanding part of the evolution in the entire game. From a nostalgic 16-bit tune to a fantastic theme song, full of victory sounds and item pick-up jingles, as you advance. Even when the gameplay goes back in time and it goes back to 16-bit the theme song doesn't lose any of its catchy melody. The main draw to the game is definitely the evolving visual, audio and gameplay style and this is all triggered by opening any and all chests you come across.
While looking for these chests, you find yourself exploring vast open fields, random small towns, and dungeons filled with an additional range of adversaries and boss fights. Of course these chests don’t always contain things which are useful, but it is hard to walk away from a potential upgrade or easter egg, even if that means exploring that cave again, just in case. You may even find yourself fighting wasp creatures that somehow co-exist with a mutant turtle and his pet snakes once more, just to be sure you have everything you need. There is such an abundance of hidden collectables and there is certain appeal to finding them all.
It is not necessary to complete Evoland 100% but it is definitely worth it, because everything is filled with nostalgic fun that leaves you wanting more. It is a fantastic Indie title, and although it only scratches the surface of video game history, Evoland has proven its value in both time and money. - Frank Van Der Merwe