Shiro Games has captured that special feel that sometimes feels lost in video games. The sense of accomplishment, curiosity, and sheer joy in playing a video game. Evoland started out as a game in a competition, Ludum Dare, in which you create a game in 72 hours and they did it in about 30 hours. If you wish to play the original game for free go here. Now this isn’t the same game I played, which is the one you can get from Steam, but it is very similar. So this game that they made is basically a tip-of-the-hat to old school RPGs and provides it’s own unique gameplay and story taking elements from so many classics that we all loved. Showing the evolution of games throughout the years condensed all into one game.
So the idea of the game is essentially to unlock things in the world. You even have to unlock the plot of the game! As well as game mechanics and graphics and so forth. That aspect is what makes this title truly unique. You start out very very old style gameplay with being able to only move in 4 directions and black and white imaging with 8-bit graphics; slowly you progress all the way up to a full high definition 3D game with free movement and free roam. There is of course an antagonist (wouldn’t be much of an RPG without an evil wizard) and you have a companion and you fight evil side by side for a good part of the game.
Although defeating the evil wizard and saving the world isn’t all you do. There are hidden items scattered throughout the entire game and even a card mini-game, called Double Twin. It is also impossible to find everything on a straight playthrough, because they made some areas inaccessible until you unlocked certain items. Don’t fret through, once you complete the game you can move about through the whole land and collect everything and become the champion at Double Twin. If that doesn’t tide you over though, they even have Chocobos for you to find! And cook apparently? I haven’t found one yet… but there is a secret merchant where you can give him Chocobo meat and he’ll let you have access to his inventory. Also if you’re not sure where those last few collectibles are, you unlock a guide in the final town to hint you in the right direction.
In terms of how the controls and combat work in the game, you only use a handful of keys for the game. Just the arrow keys, or WSAD, the space bar/enter key, and TAB for the inventory. So it is easy to learn for any age. One of the things I disliked the most was all the walking you had to do. I spent a good 15 minutes on one puzzle just walking back and forth lighting things on fire with my bow. Also traversing the land to get somewhere can be difficult and time consuming; you don’t have a mini-map except for some areas during the end of the game which makes it hard to know where you need to go to find all the collectibles.
The combat will vary depending on what section of the game you are in. You start in basic original Legend of Zelda combat by poking them with a sword basically and progress to slashing your sword in 3D. Once you start travelling to different areas you begin the random encounter style gameplay (in my opinion the most annoying) and have classic JRPG formula fighting like Final Fantasy’s turn based combat. My favorite section of the game was towards the end when there was a section dedicated to Diablo. You got to fight huge groups of enemies and had powerful combos with your weapon to dish out. Also the sense of looting gold and armor from the enemies was great. Who doesn’t love looting?!
Now some people determine a game’s worth by the boss battles and this had a lot of Legend of Zelda bosses. The first real boss you fought was basically like Dark Link, but without the mimicking, and the final boss was essentially Phantom Ganon from Ocarina of Time. I won’t spoil anything for you or give you tips on how to defeat them, but if you understand the references you should know what to do. Each boss presented in the game was formidable and if you don’t catch onto their patterns quick then you can easily be defeated. The dungeon bosses all had at least some level of backstory to them, but the final boss was pretty well developed. Only thing is that you found out about him pretty far into the game and don’t get much time to hate him, and you will hate him for a few reasons that won’t be spoiled. So in general it had some pretty good boss battles and you’ll feel a little challenged by them all.
It won’t take long to beat at all. For an 83% completion it took me about 2-3 hours, but to find all the little things and such will make it probably 5 hours long for a full 100% completion (just my estimation). Which is pretty short and it really leaves you wanting more from the game. This I’d say is the biggest downfall to the title, but definitely doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it. I recommend that you check it out if you’re a fan of action RPGs and would like to have some good old nostalgia.
Here’s a tl;dr summary of the review:
- Score: 9/10
- Pros: Unique concept, RPG nostalgia, fun and compelling gameplay
- Cons: Super short gameplay, walking gets tedious in beginning levels
- Rage Factor: Walking, 1-hit death for first part of game