Evoland 1 and 2 have finally found their way to consoles through the release of Evoland: Legendary Edition. Those unfamiliar with the series should know that it is mostly an RPG that seems to carry a controlled identity crisis meant to deliver an adventure through a history lesson and a nostalgia trip all at the same time.
It is a little challenging to discuss the graphics because due to the concept of the titles they are in a constant flux. When you first boot up you will be met with basic, mostly colorless 8 bit imagery. Don’t grow too accustomed to it however since they will quickly progress into full color, 16 bit and even early polygon style presentations depending entirely on which dungeon, area or timeframe of the game you are in. With so many different styles on display it would be very easy for developer Shiro Games to slip up and fail to deliver on one or two but they are all honestly wonderful renderings of the different generations that the genre has evolved through.
It should be noted that if you are purchasing this bundle, it will not be for Evoland 1. That’s not to say that it is inherently bad but it is a much more basic and direct entry that carries a runtime of only about 4 hours. There are a few notable highlights, specifically a Diablo styled dungeon and the very Tetramaster like knockoff card game called Double Twin, but most will only last a short time and coupled with a very rudimentary story will fail to leave a lasting impression. The best way to view it would be that you are buying Evoland 2 and that the first title is a nice little pack in to just get your feet wet.
One of the bigger selling points for the package is how both titles manage to cram so much humor as well as other video game references and easter eggs into their campaigns. From wielding the Buster sword to the second games multiple Chrono Trigger references, there will always be something for the fans that grew up with the genre to smile about. Personally, it goes a long way to making me feel like the developers are truly fans themselves.
Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about the care that was put into making sure the experience was bug free. None of the issues were game breaking but they really did sully the experience. For example, in the second game there was a part that out of nowhere played like a one on one fighting game akin to Street Fighter. Sure, the controls here were not great but I shrugged that off because most of the parts that are not enjoyable never last very long since the game is constantly changing, heck I just finished a shoot em up level to get to this point. The problem was that during the second round my character just froze in mid air while everything around him kept moving. It eventually fixed itself but it was very eye rolling.
It needs to be brought up as a separate point. Probably one of the most annoying things was that when I entered the main town in Evoland 2 during a specific time era, the NPCs would all disappear inside of the buildings. Some would show up if you got close to them but otherwise you had to guess where everyone was for your quests.
Bugs aside, Evoland 2 is a very good RPG and a game that I can easily recommend. While its time traveling narrative is not the most epic of plots it does enough to really draw you into it and make you feel for the plight of the protagonists. The characters that join you along the way are well fleshed out and display enough individualism to really allow you to get behind your favorites. In addition, since the majority of the game sees you controlling only one character, the inclusion of these party members during those sequences provide you special attacks that you can perform on a cool down or to assist with puzzle and environment navigation.
Combat as a whole is usually pretty basic since it is limited to just a sword swing and a couple of situational special attacks. Where the depth comes from is when it is broken up with entirely different styles like the previously mentioned one on one fighting battle, shoot em up segments and of course very traditional turn based attack system that you load into a separate screen for. By possessing so many different types and handling every one of them competently the overall experience is elevated as a whole and becomes greater than the sum of its parts.
There is no denying it; this game is made for a specific audience. As it is almost a love letter to the genre’s progression, those who enjoy the ‘trip down memory lane within a brand new experience’ mentality or the many references to other adventures from a past time, will get the most out of this one. If a patch is deployed to iron out the bigger bugs then the value proposition just continues to climb and another full point could be added to the overall grade.