I’m reluctant to say anything too mean about Evoland, in part because it’s a game with and about a gimmick, and in greater part because it was given to me as a gift. This wasn’t a game I went out of my way to play – I saw it being played on Youtube, thought it looked interesting but not particularly interesting, and that’s more or less where my investment in it ended.
Evoland is a game about the history of the genre we sort of think of as RPG. It’s a game where every single feature is unlocked by opening chests, starting with ‘walking right’ and ‘reading signs.’ Everything – everything – is unlocked, from JRPG style combat to loading screens to NPC dialogue to obtaining hearts in dungeons to boss keys and doors, and so on. The core experience of the game is watching as a game steadily comes together after its quite hilarious introduction into something you might recognise if you saw it on the DS as a cheap title.
Remember how I said it was short, though? Evoland isn’t quite short enough. It’s just long enough to become tedious. There are two reasons to make an aspect of the game unlockable in this way – one, to create challenge, and two, as a source of humour. The game wears out its ‘everything is an unlock’ joke more early than it thinks it does.
Evoland is certainly worth its price, and if you didn’t live with the experiences it’s talking about, or if your nostalgia is a deep enough well that being reminded of when games did things badly because they had no idea how else to do it, then it’s not asking too much to experience. Nonetheless, it’s an experience that’s short for its price, but still not quite short enough for its concept.
Buy it if:
- You’ve a few hours to kill and are interested in RPG history.
- You’re extremely nostalgic for load-times and old videogame tropes.
Avoid it if:
- You want replay value.
- It’d cost you more than ten dollars.