This 2015 indiegame which originally released on Steam in 2015 has now been ported to iOs & Android. The first game was an unexpected success but still felt like the developer was testing the waters for a bigger release. Does Evoland 2 fill those expactations?
The story of Evoland 2 takes you through four different timeperiods where the player is tasked with manipulating time so the war between the empire and the demons results in a “happy ending” for everyone involved. Each action you make in the past will have certain consequences for the future of the world. It’s nothing new and we’ve especially seen this element used a few times already in other RPGs, but what makes the game unique is that they timeperiod has its own graphical style that matches an era in gaming.
Graphics & Audio
This idea is brilliant, in that you immediately know in which timeperiod you currently find yourself, simply by looking at the visual presentation. The first Evoland already laid the groundwork for this and it looks even better this time around. Each timeperiod has its own special charm and will surely make you feel nostalgic to your childhood if you’ve lived through the various eras of gaming like I have.
Perhaps what I enjoy most in the game are the various references to popular media. You’ll see Captain America’s shield hanging in a weapon shop, an upside down McDonalds sign on the outside of a restaurent or NES from earthbound casually walking around in a village. The game wears its influences on its sleeve and isn’t afraid to boast about them.
It’s not just the visuals that’ll make you nostalgic, the soundtrack is clearly influenced by popular RPGs as well. It wasn’t rare for me to stop playing and just listen to the background music for some time, thinking “Well, this sounds familiar. I love it!”
While the first Evoland was a mix between a Zelda-like action RPG and a oldschool Final Fantasy-type Turn Based Combat RPG, Evoland 2 has cut the latter and has chosen to focus only on the hack & slash gameplay. Personally I miss having the variance that this brought to the main gameplay and it really doesn’t help that the touch-controls on the mobile devices are conceived poorly. The directional movement feels unresponsive and the action button is too small, this combined with the inherent problem that your fingers obscure part of the screen makes for a less than ideal experience and makes me recommend playing it on PC if you can.
Luckily it’s not the only type of gameplay you’ll encounter, as you’ll often be forced to play minigames of some sort and most of these even incorporate some way for your characters to use their (charged) special attack.
^Above: Using Velvets Freeze attack in combat or in the Puzzle Quest like minigame where you’ll be forced to play advanced Bejeweled against some Dwarves (and their snowman leader named John Snow – I kid you not!)
This is probably its biggest strength: variety. In my adventure I encountered:
- Typical hack and slash RPG combat
- A few sideScrolling platforming levels
- A sidescrolling beat-em up level
- A sidescrolling shooter level
- A top-down Shooter level
- Professor Layton-like puzzle solving
- A rhythm game
- A Tactical Turn-based RPG section
- Some Puzzle Quest games
- A collectible card game
The last one is perhaps the most interesting to me, as a fan of collectible card games. You can travel the world and challenge many different NPCs to a turn based card game in which you have to beat down the opponents life total to zero. It’s especially challenging in the beginning of the game when your cards don’t quite match up with the ones your opponents have, but by beating them you unlock powerful cards representing one of the game’s many characters.
What also stood out to me is the perfect save-system for portable games: almost every action saves the game so you can continue without losing any progress. Especially in lenghty RPGs, the absence of such can be a dealbreaker as we don’t Always have the available time to play for hours on end. Playing it in small sessions, on the other hand, isn’t exactly great for remembering what you needed to do next. The game will often require you to go to a specific location in a specific timeline. I often had to consult an online guide to be able to proceed, something that I haven’t been forced to do since a long time.
Evoland 2 is a fun experience above all. You’re constantly curious about what will happen next in this timetravelling tale. The many different gameplay mechanics all fit together nicely and do their best at not making the game outstay its welcome. However, the somewhat slow pacing combined with often not knowing where (and when!) to go next makes it feel longer than it actually is. On Mobile devices it also has some pour design choices when it comes to the controls. But when all the pros and cons are weighed, it remains such a brave attempt at creating a fresh experience and it has so many humorous references to other popular media that it still makes for a worthy purchase. I’d recommend getting the PC version if you have the option though, as it provides the better experience.
(Reviewed on iOS & Steam)