Two time-traveling adventures through video game history! Are they worth the trip? Keep reading this Evoland Legendary Edition review to find out!
In 2013, French-based developer Shiro Games released Evoland for PC. The developers were inspired by titles like The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, Diablo, and many more, and so they created a single game in which they could have it all–a journey through gaming history. Two years later, Evoland was ported to iOS and Android. The sequel, Evoland 2: A Slight Case of Spacetime Continuum Disorder, followed shortly thereafter. In early 2019, both games were bundled and ported to consoles as a two-for-one time-travel triumph. But is it time well spent?
Genre: Action RPG, Adventure
Platform: PC, Switch, Xbox One, PS4 (reviewed)
Release Date: Feb. 07, 2019
Due to its short length (you can finish the game in 1-3 hours depending on how important it is to you to get 100%), Evoland 1 is almost more of a proof of concept or an extended demo. Starting with the most basic of old school GameBoy graphics, players control a character named Clink (wink wink, nudge nudge) as he moves through the world, fighting enemies and opening treasure chests. Each chest gifts Clink with a gaming innovation, such as color, 16 bit sound, and 3D graphics.
Clink also eventually acquires a companion, a mortal enemy, and a quest to save the world, but these are secondary to the nostalgic, tongue-in-cheek commentary spread throughout the game. For example, every piece of equipment you get is ridiculously absurd, such as the Ring of Bovinae Mastery, which gives you +17 damage against cows because “you never know when that’s going to come in handy.” There’s also a trophy awarded for breaking too many pots…on accident, of course.
On paper, Evoland 1 may sound more like a gimmick than anything else, but I absolutely adored it. Just when I thought the game couldn’t get any cuter, it proved me wrong. This absolutely will be a once-a-year replay for me, especially because its short length means it’s not a huge time commitment.
Now on to Evoland 2!
After a cryptic beginning, the main character Kuro wakes to realize he’s lost his memory. A girl named Fina explains that her father found him lying unconscious in the woods, and she suggests they go back there to see if they can discover any clues as to what happened to Kuro. Once out on this fact-finding mission, however, the pair accidentally go back in time. In their quest to get home, they uncover a plot to destroy the world.
Kuro and Fina pick up two additional companions on their journey, and there is much discussion about fate, loss, hope, and whether they have the right to mess with time. It sounds like heavy stuff, but the game balances everything out with a very meta, very on-point sense of humor that any gamer should appreciate.
Evoland 2 takes the first game’s concept and expands it into a full-fledged, 20+ hour game. This is an action RPG in the vein of many Legend of Zelda titles. Explore the map, talk to NPCs, solve puzzles, and conquer dungeons–basically, you’ve been here before. But that does not mean things are boring or derivative. Clever gaming Easter eggs and in-jokes are everywhere, which incentivizes exploration as well as actually reading the dialogue boxes. There are also side quests, such as collecting all 30 hidden stars or acquiring all 60 playing cards (more on that in a moment).
The game’s overall difficulty level is on the easy side, but not insultingly so, and this helps to keep the experience a chill, enjoyable one. Additionally, many of the puzzles are no joke, so expect to work your brain a bit, especially if you’re eyeing a platinum trophy.
Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey
To illustrate the differences in the time periods, the characters jump back and forth between eras of game graphics. The “present” has 16-bit graphics, but when your party goes to the “past,” everything is in 8-bit graphics. The “future” has PS1 graphics. Beating the game is like a giant time travel puzzle. You must figure out not only the correct place, but also the correct time to solve various quests, and it’s a blast seeing how your actions in one timeline affect the others.
As is fitting for its homage roots, Evoland 2 contains short segments of just about every game genre you can think of. There’s top-down hack ‘n slash, side-scrolling platformer, SHMUP, beat ’em up, gem swap, tactical RPG, and more. These sections are hugely fun. Not only do they add variety to the core gameplay, but they also create anticipation for what you’ll uncover next.
You might think that a game that tries to do everything wouldn’t do any of it well. But here, it really, really works.
Game of Cards
I want to make a special shoutout to Game of Cards, which ended up being my absolute favorite part of Evoland 2. This year I’m asking Santa for a standalone Game of Cards title. I’m not even joking.
Game of Cards is a minigame in Evoland 2. Players seek to defeat their opponent by reducing their hearts to zero. Strategy comes into play in how you balance offense and defense, how you react to your opponent’s cards, and in how you manage your mana (without it, you can’t play any cards).
As Kuro explores the world, he can challenge the NPCs he encounters, and if he wins, he’s awarded a new card for his deck. Collect all 60 to be the Game of Cards Grand High Champion of the Universe and Beyond. Okay, that’s not the official title given by the game, but I’m still going to put it on my business cards.
Areas for Improvement
Honestly, I’ve enjoyed my time with Evoland so much that I’ve had to really rack my brain to come up with problems in the game. Eventually, I did settle on two aspects that would’ve made my experience a little smoother.
Firstly, aside from the glowing blue save circles that appear in key areas, there is no way to manually save your game. This leaves you relying on the autosave feature, which can be an uncomfortable exercise in trust for those who have been burned before. Evoland‘s never failed me, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t sometimes quit the game while crossing my fingers and chanting, “Please save! Please save! Please save!”
The other issue is more minor. There’s a surprising amount of content in Evoland 2, and between all the side quests and collectibles, it can be difficult to remember everything you need to do. Thus the game would be well-served with a to-do list or quest log of some kind.
Graphics & Sound
Visually, Evoland 2 is a nostalgic treat. I never got tired of switching between the timelines and seeing the differences in the graphics. Everything is colorful and familiar with an attention to detail that makes it seem like a title that was made with love.
Likewise, the music is wonderful, and it’s reminiscent of the many games that served as inspiration. You’ll hear a bit of The Legend of Zelda here, a bit of Final Fantasy there, etc. The various themes are fun and catchy but without getting annoying after too much repetition. In fact, some of the pieces downright rock. The Ghost Forest theme (listen here) is my new jam.
Full disclosure: I seriously had so much fun with this title. I don’t often have time to replay games, but I will make time for Evoland. With its clever humor, puzzle challenges, and genre segments, this is a quality experience that should be good for many playthroughs.