Evoland 2 is the successor to the 2013 game Evoland, developed by French studio, Shiro Games. Created for Ludum Dare #24, the original game found near universal praise from fans for taking the RPG of yesteryear, cherry picking best parts of what made them great and sticking them all together with a great soundtrack, strong visual aesthetic and some on point cultural references. The icing on the cake was to take the player on a journey between the 8 bit and 3D worlds depending on the narrative developments. This combination of features led to some people regarding it as one of, it not the best indie RPG ever made.
When you give the sequel its full name Evoland 2: A Slight Case of Spacetime Continuum Disorder, you get a feeling for the unique selling point. Not only are you transferring between 8-bit and 3D worlds, you are also travelling forwards and backwards in time. The farther back you go, the older the game looks. You start off in the tutorial with a green-screen Game Boy mode and move up to the present which is portrayed in wonderful smooth HD.
You are not alone on your adventures. Companions follow you around for most of the game granting you abilities to help traverse the environments removing boulders or tough foliage as well as providing a combat ability in any of the scenarios the game throws at you, be it in RPG mode or any of the other modes the game possesses. Companions are invisible most of the time only popping out in person during story points.
While playing you will trip over references and nods to other popular RPG’s. One moment you will be reminded of Zelda while opening a chest and whacking weeds, next, you will be thinking about the Warcraft games while you are having a conversation with King Arthos about an attack from the city of GENOVA which then reminds you of Final Fantasy VII. You get the point. If you like spotting references, you will love this game.
There is an entire section where you escape from a dungeon in stealth…while hiding in a box. The game even MAKES you choose a preset nickname for your hero at one point. I chose “Solid Snail” as an homage to that dungeon escape and characters occasionally reference that choice, guaranteeing a chuckle..
One of the few complaints about the first game was the length. You won’t be able to make that complaint with this game. More levels, more short mini games, more story elements. More of everything. Yet it’s the story that I have a gripe with. This an issue with any text based game. It can take several minutes to complete a conversation between your characters while you are just watching and not interacting. While, that is typical of old style RPG’s and is a deliberate choice, it’s just not one that works very well when long periods of plot are being churned out on screen.
If that is the worst side of the Evoland 2, the good stuff is a whole lot better.
Without so much as a warning the game throws you into other genres so you are not just playing a top down RPG. All of a sudden you will be in a platformer, scrolling left to right and jumping onto blocks. Or a scrolling spaceship shoot’em up! and many more. They also included genuinely difficult puzzles you have to complete in order to progress the story. In a scene in a library you have to pass 6 of 8 trials. They too are challenging and will take longer to do then you would expect. These changes to the tempo and style in this manner is a refreshing change up to what would otherwise be a traditional RPG.
The core of the game is a perfect modern representation of old RPG’s in the 8 bit sections and then switching to a side scrolling platformer was very intuitive and at several points you spot throw backs to games from that genre too. Super Mario Jellyfish and Echo The Dolphin style air pockets underwater, amongst many others.
The game also has many collectibles for masochists. Gold Stars, Achievements and even a card collecting based mini-game are all present. (Think Final Fantasy VIII’s Triple Triad.) All of which are available purely as an optional pursuit. There is a rudimentary crafting system with a blacksmith providing the highest tier items if you can provide him with the rare ore which exists scattered amongst the time zones and a witch who can improve your companions skills and provide potions if you have the correct items for her. The is no map or objective list at all. This is probably a design choice to throwback to what the classic RPG’s were like but I did find that when I returned to the game after a break, I had forgotten what quest I was on and had to roam around looking for where I was supposed to be heading.
Overall, I had a blast with this game. These days every time there is a sequel to a much loved game you are almost pre-programmed to think that they will mess it up, betray what the original stood for and cash in. Not in this case. The sequel has been done correctly. It hasn’t cheapened the core values of what came before, it has expanded on them in every direction and has been an utter delight to play.
The Verdict: Head Shot
Platform Available/Reviewed – PC
Review code supplied by PR for the developer.