Evoland from Shiro Games, is a homage to the beautiful history that encompasses the modern day JRPG. The real question is, does this just blindly pay tribute to the giant of the past, or does it stand on their shoulders to make itself really stand out.
Starting up you are placed in a black and white gameboy-esque world, where your character can only move in two directions. unlocking the nearby chest gives the game a new second dimension allowing your character to also move up and down the screen. This unlocked evolution is the key to the game as a whole, and the mechanic through which you progress. Soon after you are able to unlock a sword and NES gen graphics, opening the way for the true story to unfurl. You see Evoland does what it says on the tin. Each aspect of the game, from control systems, Graphics and gameplay progression is unlocked from chests in the environment and each give a nod to the greats of the past; Zelda, Final Fantasy, Suikoden, Dragon Quest. You can see their likeness throughout.
The standard RPG tropes are included and whether you are a fan of random encounters or not, they are here in spades. Unlocking the addition of a “plot” early on, allows for a simple premise on which this adventure is based; there is no need for convoluted cut scenes or over the top exposition. You are quite simply one of the last Dragon Knights, on a quest to ensure the land remains safe for all its peoples.
Gameplay itself is quite straightforward. Initially relying on the use of save points, you soon progress to a life system straight from LOZ, and once this point is reached there really is no true challenge to the game. Before this point, one hit from an enemy would send you spiraling back to your last save point but as the majority of creatures now take only half a heart off you, and typically drop health when dying, the threat of regression disappears. This is also true of the random encounters, where there doesn’t feel like there is any real risk in these events and as such they become more of a tedious chore than a challenge.
What it does in its homage, makes up for what it lacks in its gameplay though. The designers have put in some well crafted dungeons with a plethora of interesting enemies and traps, and thankfully the deigned to limit these dungeons to only a few occasions.
Evolving all aspects of the game from its monochromatic bidirectional beginnings to its relatively modern 3D incarnations, is something every lover of RPG’s will get a rose-tinted kick.
There is something quite reassuring to know you are not the only one who looks back on the hey-day of rpg’s with a sense of longing. For all its flaws, this was still an enjoyable romp that put a nice new twist on old school gaming.
MLG Rating: 7/10 Format: Android Release Date: Out Now
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of Evoland by the publisher for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of 1 week on a PC. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.