I’ve spent some time in Evoland, today, and I have to say I’m impressed. It’s more story than game, though there are all the trappings (pun intended) of the games many of us grew with baked right in. It’s a delight to play through, mostly because many of the older game mechanics, like turn-based fighting and random map encounters, don’t last too long.
It’s like getting to indulge your hankering for retro goodness without having to spend too much time with the lame stuff.
Starting a new game will get you a black and white 2D game that looks a lot like something from an original 8-bit GameBoy RPG. As you travel around using the arrows or WASD keys on your keyboard, you’ll walk into treasure chests, most of which will give you some sort of gaming feature, like map scrolling, save portals, 16 and then 256-colors, isometric perspective, and more, all the way up to the modern 3D perspective most of us will recognize. It’s a delightfully self-aware and joyful process; I dare you not to smile at some of the “add-ons.”
Evoland was originally developed as part of a 48 hour game jam, and it began its life as an online Flash game. The theme of the jam, Ludum Dare, was–naturally–evolution. The game let players evolve along with the game look and mechanics, and it was a huge hit, pulling in 300,000 plays in a couple of months.
The simplicity of the game, in service to the story of modern RPG video games, won’t offer gamers much of a challenge, but the nostalgia and humor alone is worth the nine bucks it will run you for the Mac version at GoG.com or Steam. Maneuver around a dungeon, noticing un-passable doors with giant keyholes. Find a treasure chest, which will give you a key. The message you get when you hold the key in the air, Link-style? “You got a Key. Guess what it’s for?”
You’ll visit towns, talk to NPCs, fight monsters, bemoan not saving your game more often, and die a lot. What’s not to like? Take your time to explore Evoland; you won’t be disappointed.