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Evoland is derived from the gaming classics in nearly every facet, but it misses what makes those games still great to this day: their gameplay. There is still some value to a game like Evoland, as it still tells a sort of history of the RPG-adventure genre, and is humorous enough to keep my attention. Even with its charm, Evoland is ultimately underwhelming.

Evoland’s greatest obstacle is gameplay. It is based on games – like Final Fantasy and The Legend of Zelda – that many of us think of fondly because of how well they still hold up. Evoland sets itself up for comparison to these classics, but it doesn’t live up to their reputation. The gameplay changes quite a bit due to the evolution-based nature of Evoland. But it mainly switches between 2D combat similar to old Zelda games and turn-based battles from Final Fantasy. But none of them capture the essence of their inspiration just right. 2D combat is clunky, and there is only a hair separating you hitting something and it hitting you.

[quote_right]Evoland also takes the stereotype of random encounters in JRPGs and makes it a reality[/quote_right]

Turn-based combat in Evoland is not only useless, but also annoying. It’s shallow and requires no strategy beyond attack with one hero and heal with the other. Every turn. It doesn’t matter what you’re fighting or where you are in the game, because that is all you need to do to press on. Evoland also takes the stereotype of random encounters in JRPGs and makes it a reality. Every few steps is another mindless, boring battle that made me yearn for the return of the 2D combat that I didn’t even like.

Evoland’s best gameplay is during a short dungeon that is reminiscent of Diablo. But, like the rest of the game, it’s a shallow, barebones version of it. Still, it provided much more fun since it allowed me to take more than a few hits and even switch characters, though the inability to switch back was disappointing since there isn’t another opportunity in the game to test out the other character.

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Even with Evoland’s various combat failures, it is hard not to find other aspects of it charming – particularly how well it emulates the myriad graphical and musical styling’s of gaming’s yesteryear. Evoland works in a way very similar to that of DLC Quest, but with homage instead of satire. It revolves around opening chests that reward the player with either an update to Evoland’s style or a collectable star. It wasn’t too long before the green-ish hued top-down adventure game transformed into a detailed, HD and 3D experience. Advancing Evoland’s style was addicting, and I found myself really excited whenever a new chest appeared.

The humor found in Evoland is also comparable to DLC Quest, except I appreciated Evoland’s much, much more. DLC Quest was a bit too condescending for me, while Evoland is jovial and less in your face. Nothing was laugh-out-loud hilarious, but the throwbacks to gaming classics (like the main characters being named Clink and Kaeris) and other jokes was worth a chuckle.

Evoland’s best accomplishment is capturing the feeling of the games it is inspired by. It relies mainly on aesthetics and music to realize this, since the gameplay is shallow. There is one specific town that imitates the pre-rendered backgrounds of a PlayStation 1 era Final Fantasy game. The foreboding tune and awkward way my character moved around matched perfectly to how those games play.

Wrap Up

Evoland is the gaming equivalent of putting a coat of paint over an old, rusted car.
The best it can do is capture the spirit off what it’s mimicking. But Evoland only made me want to play those games, not Evoland. I think people who love The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy will really enjoy the little callouts and jokes, but will probably be disappointed in how shallow the emulation of the gameplay is.

5

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