Evoland, from Shirogames, reminded me of the days as a kid where I was locked in my room for hours on end playing RPGs like Breath of Fire, Zelda, and Chronotrigger on my Super Nintendo. Similar to how Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake brought back the past in their “History of Rap” musical medleys, Evoland provided a nostalgia-filled adventure through the evolution of role-playing games (RPG).
You start out as a character with no weapons in a non-color 8-bit environment, unable to do much of anything. Those grainy sounding 8-bit songs with the looped melody are still as endearing as ever (It’s like pop radio for gamers). But as you find more and more treasure chests, the game upgrades itself. The original black and white world slowly turns into the vibrant colored one that is played though today, showing the progression of games as technology and game mechanics advanced. You can’t help but laugh at the clever quips with each improvement like, “Look, you look very cool when you get an item” when you discover the camera zoom upgrade or “You got expensive merchants” as you unlock new places to shop. There’s also that old feeling that comes back when you’re slashing pots open and solving puzzles like in Zelda or fighting turn-based battles with monsters comparable to Final Fantasy.
But the nostalgia wears off quickly since Evoland perhaps progresses too quickly through the different eras of adventure RPG gaming. What’s left afterwards is a game that just isn’t that fun or intriguing to play. Walking only a few seconds in the world map ignites a battle, eliciting painful memories from those older games. I just want to get to the next town or dungeon in peace! These battles that were so repetitive and tedious in the old times were also necessary to gain levels for your characters to battle the increasingly harder monsters. But you wanted to do that because the story was full of purpose, and the story was intriguing. There’s really no such urgency in Evoland, though, because there’s no depth in the story; it’s just a simple tale about a guy who’s thrust into the hero role of saving the world from an evil entity. And that’s the problem. After the blast from the past in the opening sequences, I had little interest in actually finishing the game.