Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Review: Evoland

3:00 PM on 04.04.2013 // Jim Sterling

Combat Devolved

There is no shortage of indie games designed to appeal to our nostalgic side, with hundreds of "retro puzzle-platformers" on offer. There are so many, in fact, that very few of them feel sincere anymore. Independent development can prove just as cynical as the big-budget arena, as the reliance on "old school" aesthetics demonstrate. 

This is not to say, however, that there aren't games made with a real love of the medium's roots, that have been designed with genuine heart rather than cold calculation. These games can be told apart through their inventive ideas, charming personality, and demonstrated knowledge of a past so often vapidly plundered. 

Evoland -- a shameless tribute to both The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy -- is one such game. At once a grab-bag of silly references and a keenly observed tribute to the games that helped build action-adventure and role-playing games, Evoland is more than just a showcase of retro graphics. 

That said, the retro graphics are vital in this game's case. 

Evoland (PC)
Developer: Shiro Games
Publisher: Shiro Games
Released: April 04, 2013
MSRP: $9.99
Rig: Intel i7-2600k @3.40 GHz, with 8GB of RAM, GeForce GTX 580 GPU (SLI)

Like DLC Quest before it, Evoland is all about slowly building up a game from the basics, though the satirical reasons are quite different. When the adventure begins, players are transported to a monochrome and blocky world, evoking memories of old Game Boy graphics. The world is littered with chests, and opening these chests slowly transforms the world around our hero, as well as the way in which players control him. 

At first, players get to unlock directional movement, music, and basic combat with a sword. Before long, however, Evoland proves true to its name by providing chests that change the graphics themselves, adding color, and eventually transitioning from an 8-bit to a 16-bit style. Later on in the game, there's a leap from 2D to 3D visuals, which then evolves to add pixel details and, finally, full HD textures. 

Along the way, turn-based battles are added to the game's overworld between dungeons, splitting the game into Zelda-inspired real-time dungeon crawling, and Final Fantasy-inspired RPG traversal. Though both styles of play are rudimentary, they offer the basic trappings we've come to expect -- bombs, arrows, and puzzle elements for the dungeons, experience and gold drops for the overworld. 

Evoland is a simple game with a simple story of saving the world from a stereotypical bad guy, but by refusing to pull the same trick twice, it manages to keep itself interesting beyond the surface level videogame parody. During the course of the short adventure, players will get to fight bosses in both real-time and turn-based scenarios, add a party member and a summon monster, and even tackle a dungeon in full-on Diablo-style hack n' slash mode -- complete with pointlessly amusing loot drops. For some light distraction, there's also an optional card game tournament, representing a streamlined version of Final Fantasy's Tetra Master/Triple Triad games. 

Combined, Evoland's elements form a love letter to some of the most venerated games in their respective genres, and it's surprising just how well the shifting gameplay types work together. By keeping things at a fundamental level, the game ensures things never get too convoluted and tiresome, but I do feel it could have done more to exploit its best ideas. 

One area in particular involves hitting crystals to switch between 3D and 2D graphics, solving puzzles by changing the perspectives back and forth. It's a fantastic slice of gameplay, but like everything in Evoland, it is merely a slice. Once this one section has been completed, it is done with. Likewise, players get an airship at the very end of the game, and can backtrack to dungeons with new gear to find hidden areas, but the amount of optional content is limited at best, with only new cards or hidden stars to acquire for mere bragging rights. 

Everything Evoland does is heartfelt, amusing, and very well put together, but the end result leaves me hungry for more, eager to see an extrapolation of the central gimmick, which just comes across as surface-level stuff outside of the one area that utilizes it in the gameplay. I certainly hope it gets some content updates in future, because the central premise has been far from mined of its potential, and I could see the studio being clever enough to make all sorts of fresh styles work. 

It stands to reason that the game looks great, from its black-and-white beginnings right up to its full HD finale. As a 3D game, things certainly don't look as gorgeous as the console offerings it mimics, but it's still dripping with character, bright visuals, and lovingly designed environments. The soundtrack is also excellent, treading the line between nostalgia and originality with expertise. My only wish is that each track lasted a little longer before looping -- like everything else in Evoland, the music is terrific, I just want more of it. 

Evoland makes for a thoroughly enjoyable few hours, and I'd recommend it to any Zelda or Final Fantasy fan in a heartbeat. While a few of the referential jokes cross over into cringe territory, most of them hit the mark, and there are a few little gags that really encourage a smirk, if not a real-life, out-loud chuckle. It's incredibly difficult to fault what's on offer, but it's quite easy to lament what isn't there -- chiefly a lot more of what's on offer.



Evoland - Reviewed by Jim Sterling
Likable - That's a seven, which is actually a different number than five. It's more than ok. We like this game. I don't want to play it every day forever and ever, but it's definitely worth the time I invested in it, and I'll be picking it up again to relive the fun sometime down the line.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Jim Sterling, Former Reviews Editor
 Follow Blog + disclosure JimSterling Tips
Destructoid reviews editor, responsible for running and maintaining the cutting edge videogame critique that people ignore because all they want to see are the scores at the end. Also a regular f... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:

  Apr 05

Shiro Games considering Evoland for Nintendo hardware

The possibility is being discussed 'regularly'

  Mar 20

Evoland release date is sooner than expected

Coming to Steam, GOG, and the dev's website

  Jan 28

Evoland is evolving into a new game

Don't you dare press the B button

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!

Cblogs of 11/29/15 + Scott Pilgrim You Nefarious Swine!

Sexism in video games culture: social science says it’s real

How YOU can save DOAX3 (with diagrams)

Recap: Metal Gear Solid 2

Backward Compatibility Is More Important Than Ever (Maybe)

My beef with Sony

It's beginning to look a lot like censorship.

Solar Pony Django's Review on: Animal Crossing Amiibo Festival

Indivisible exposes why forced diversity and its proponents keep failing

Steam Controller Review

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

extatix avatarextatix
It's the best time of the year again! Finally we get to listen to Wham and Chris Rea over and over again!
MeanderBot avatarMeanderBot
The Unofficial Destructoid Christmas Card has been ordered. If you claimed one, you should probably PM me your address now.
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Started playing Wonderful 101 and it's good, but pretty overwhelming. Think I'll put it down for now. Also sad that there is no penis formation. [img][/img]
Terry 309 avatarTerry 309
What the hell happened to Arcade racing games?
EdgyDude avatarEdgyDude
Red from Transistor has joined Indivisible! many thanks to Supergiant Games for their support to this game.
JBroXNari99 avatarJBroXNari99
Does anyone know if Advent of Indies is happening this year? I looked it up today and didn't find any updates on their Twitter since January.
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
I brought that cake I made into work and it disappeared fast. Maybe if I lose my job I can just make a living selling cakes on the end of my street.
James Internet Ego avatarJames Internet Ego
My review-in-progress of Just Cause 3: Explosions - good. Grappling hook - good. Flying - good. Driving - an abomination. 8/10.
SirDavies avatarSirDavies
Well, ugh, this is awkward. A year ago I wrote a cblog about cool indie games coming in 2015, and not a single one of them has been released :/
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
I was happy to have never spoiled myself the final boss of Splatoon's campaign. That was one of the best boss fights ever and I absolutely love the credits track. So relaxing. [youtube][/youtube]
Niero Desu avatarNiero Desu
Today's kids will never know the struggle of putting an encyclopedia on top of an NES Max to auto-buy 99 potions before heading into Terra Cavern
CblogRecaps avatarCblogRecaps
Sometimes, on more dreary days, I make a smiley face with sliced-pickle eyes and bacon grin in my lunch-burger. It fills me up all the same, but I feel a warm sense of accomplishment, achievement and satisfaction on top of it.
Shinta avatarShinta
[youtube][/youtube] Isn't this the greatest thing ever?
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Well, my Bloggers Wanted post is up, but it timetraveled back to Sunday behind Zetta's blog or will only post two days from now otherwise. Mrgrgr.
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
Yeah I still can't take the new Batman and Superman seriously, Batman just looks so stupid with his cowl lol.
Amna Umen avatarAmna Umen
This near final build of Nuclear Throne is going to bring back my eye twitch.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
When I was a lad, I loved this game something fierce. [img][/img] Anyone else ever play the tie in Small Soldiers games? Maybe it's nostalgia, but I remember them being not too bad.
Torchman avatarTorchman
Finally got my surface pro 3. Holy shit I love this little guy. And Windows 10 is better than I thought.
Putting more effort into iOS game review than African American history book report. This is not what Dr. King died for. Or maybe he did, I wouldn't know because I'm not doing the book report. Wha-hey!!
Lawman avatarLawman
More info and footage on that cancelled first-person THQ Avengers game is shown. The heartache's still real.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -