It’s been a while since a game has managed to make me laugh. Most of them take themselves too seriously, and those that actually attempt humor often do nothing more than include crude slapstick or innuendo into their narratives. Yes, Ni No Kuni was charming. Yes, Journey was profound. Yes, Unfinished Swan was wondrous. All of them were deeply enjoyable experiences. But none of them made me giggle and feel like a kid again. It was a simple indie game – Evoland – which managed to do this.
In this game players start out playing in what appears to be a GamBoy (yes, the classic green/black screen) aesthetic. The play is reminiscent of the Legend of Mana games. As players progress through the game, they can unlock sound effects, 16 colors, 256 colors, music, updated music, a 3d world, pixelated textures, high-res textures, pre-rendered backgrounds, and high-def pre-rendered backgrounds. The game will remind veteran gamers of titles like The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy 6, as well as Secret of Mana and Shining Tears.
The game doesn’t take itself too seriously, and this helps it tremendously. It doesn’t attempt to reinvent old mechanics or break ground in storytelling. It simply tries to make homage to the classic aesthetics and tropes that made 8-bit and 16-bit action/adventure and rpg games what they were. From bumping into the helpless girl who needs help to the tedious fetch quests to the useless town NPCs, Evoland manages to replicate classic video game tropes in a way that is satirical but at the same time offers tribute. With characters with names like Clink (remove the c), wielder of ‘The Cloud Sword’, a weapon that looks suspiciously similar to Cloud’s Buster Sword, Kaeris (remove the k), a young lady who dies at the hand of the antagonist despite the hero’s possession of Phoenix Down resurrection items, trying to stop an evil Zephyros from completely destroying the world an the Mana Tree, one would indeed find it difficult to make the argument that this game tries to take itself seriously. Nevertheless, despite it being a funny game (indeed, I giggled and laughed at several occasions), it gives players a great experience by exposing them to the evolution of a genre.
Personally, I am really glad to see that someone – even if it’s a small independent developer, is taking risks with video games and pushing the medium forward. I’m kind of getting tired of generic games being re-released with a new number on the title.
Those who haven’t tried the game yet should most definitely consider getting it.
Note: I am not affiliated with the game developer or any of the retail stores that carry digital copies of the text. I am not endorsing this title for any reason other than that I found it breathtakingly charming.