Three hours in, Evoland 2 looks very much like an old-school, top-down RPG of the 2-bit, 8-bit, and 16-bit variety (and at this stage we’ve witnessed all three). While it looks like an RPG, we’d have to lean more towards the adventure label – an adventure that implements lite, and gleefully recognisable elements of all your favourite RPGs.
While things may change as Evoland 2 continues to evolve, so far there’s been no allocation of stat-points on levelling up, no deep inventory management, and combat is of the very action-oriented variety. Having said all that, stats do increase on levelling, there is an inventory, and players will collect characters that bring extra abilities to the party. So all the elements are there, but in a very easy-to-manage way that places the emphasis on the adventure itself, rather than players having to get their hands dirty with the actual mechanics.
None of this is meant as a negative, we just want to give a clear idea of what we’ve seen so far, which is an adventure/RPG-lite, rather than a full blown RPG. But again, this early in, things may change.
Evoland 2’s story so far is genuinely compelling, and actually easy to follow, which is not always the case for the games it models itself on, which are often known for convoluted narratives. A classic tale of a boy with a sword who has no idea how he arrived in this kingdom he woke up in, but soon finds himself tasked with saving it. We’ve all been there.
Starting out with a tutorial played within a green, 2-bit environment reminiscent of the original Game Boy games, Evoland 2 soon switches to the 16-bit world our hero wakes up in, and then not long after to an 8-bit world representing the past. The transitions are well handled by developer Shiro Games, and each feels pleasingly authentic in its depiction and accompanying culture references.
So far we’ve had references to Mario, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (played by squirrels), Metal Gear, secret areas with hidden chests, restaurant management, and even a 2D action-platforming level. The 2D action-platforming by no means felt like a quick throwaway with dodgy mechanics either, it could easily have been expanded into its own title.
And that’s the main crux of why Evoland 2 feels like a success three hours in: The fact that all these references are packed in, even with differing gameplay genres, with none of it coming at the expense of solid, compelling gameplay.
I don’t want to go too deep with this early impressions roundup, I’ll save the meat and potatoes for the full review, but I wanted to give you a taste of Evoland 2 so far, which, at this stage feels like an absolute credit to the team at Shiro Games.
We’ll be back.