When Evoland begins, you find yourself in a very constrained area that is also in black and white. Your character is between two chests, one to the left and one to the right. Trying to go left reveals that your only form of movement is to the right. Picking up the right chest grants you leftward movement. When you then pick up the other chest, you can now move in all four directions. This trick is what Evoland is all about.
Of course, these “tricks” get more interesting as the game moves on. Occasionally, you will find chests that add color and depth to the world in a neat screen wipe effect. Go far enough and there are even chests that change the style of the game itself. I don’t want to spoil these changes because they really are the coolest part of the game. The makers of Evoland obviously know a lot about classic RPGs and make several clever references that I didn’t really expect.
This idea is very clever (reminiscent of DLC Quest in ways, but with a different focus) but doesn’t last forever, as you may expect. There are only so many switch-ups that can be in the game before it runs out of stuff to poke fun at. It is pretty short, at about 2 hours without extra exploration. It is also quite easy to complete, although I can understand why. The developer really couldn’t make the systems that complex because there are so many of them in the game. As an indie developer, that would take too much time and work to implement. I feel that it fits the tone of the game better for them to be so simplistic.
My biggest problem with Evoland was how it would jump back to older gameplay systems almost on a whim. The overworld map always resembles a Final Fantasy game of old, with random battles every few steps. A few of the dungeons also had this random combat, but others had different systems. Jumping back and forth between these systems felt like a strange step backwards in a game that was otherwise all about moving forwards through history. I also didn’t much care for the final boss, an encounter that is much more about exact timing than any other boss in the game. It’s the biggest difficulty jump, although it still isn’t that hard to overcome.
I really enjoyed the concept of Evoland. The effects are really nice, and I kept finding new chests that changed the game in a way I didn’t even expect. It may be a little short, but I think that makes it a better game, a fun little romp through RPGs of old. If you are at all familiar with the history of RPGs, give it a look. I guarantee at least a few laughs.