Bit By Bit: Evoland Lets You Play Through Gaming History

I'm sad, because the third image makes it very apparent that he is not, in fact, wearing a croissant on his head.

Ah, how far we’ve come. Why, I remember when games were still controlled by way of fire, amber-crystallized mosquitoes, and – yeesh – wired peripherals during brief respites from servitude under our mighty, all-devouring Tyrannolords. Those were such simpler times. Now, though, we have all these crazy graphics and buttons. But how did we reach this point? That’s what Evoland hopes to explore, generation-by-generation, in a single adventure. So it might begin looking and playing like a colorless brick of Game Boy code, but later areas will morph into 16-bit, 32-bit, and full-blown 3D. Nifty, huh? Watch the gaming industry level up in trailer form after the break.

Evoland was originally conceived as a short, Zelda-esque jaunt for Ludum Dare 24 (the theme was evolution, naturally), and you can give that version a go right now. It’s understandably simplistic, but quite a charmer nonetheless. My favorite part was unlocking the ability to go left.

The new Evoland, however, promises to be far more elaborate – though still rooted largely in the Japanese canon of gaming’s history books.

“Evoland is a game and a story. The story of action adventure gaming as seen in the Zelda or Final Fantasy series, starting with the early age of action RPGs, when a few pixels were enough to make us dream for hours. The game will enhance and continue the story started in Evoland Classic, taking you further along the history of action adventure gaming, adding collectible items, new monsters and bosses, and more importantly new play styles and full 3D environments.”

So then, same song, new verses. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. It’s quite a clever concept, and my nostalgia glands do enjoy a good glee juice secretion every once in a while. The new, improved Evoland will be out next month, but it’s carved out its own chunky, pixelated corner of Steam Greenlight for now. You can give it a helpful up-shove if you’re feeling so inclined. It’s what our irrationally violent, entirely heartless Tyrannolords would’ve wanted, I think. May they forever rest in peace.


  1. NathaI3 says:

    This is one of the few Ludum Dare games I’ve played, and it really grabbed my attention. I think the concept is fantastic and with a bit of polish this could be a nice commentary on gaming evolution. But will the final stages be corridor follow-me manshoot?

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      The final stages will be retro pixel art graphics.

      • Askeladd says:

        Only works with Oculus Rift.

      • plugmonkey says:

        Lol! The circle is complete.

        Although, I was already thinking that the retro 8 and 16-bit graphics are a lot nicer than the retro 32-bit…

        • Groove says:

          That’s probably because actual 16-bit graphics stand up a lot better than 32-bit. In the 16-bit era we got simple, 2D games down to a fine art. Then with 32/64-bit we started exploring 3D and suddenly we were back to the drawing board. There are a lot of classic games from the 32/64-bit era, but those are remembered in spite of their graphics, not because of them.

    • Stuart Walton says:

      The 2nd generation of 3D should have copious amounts of solar lens flare.

  2. Ultra Superior says:

    It is a croissant cut in half, its innards full of thick chocola !

  3. TheIronSky says:

    First play Potatoman Seeks The Troof, something from the 8-bit era, then play this, and lastly play Crysis (or some other next-gen graphics hog). Then you will have completed the cycle. Or the history. Or something. I’m sure there’s a reward for that.

    • The Random One says:

      I like the implication that Potatoman has somehow placed itself before recorded video game history. There are a few games that could also be there, maybe Love++?

  4. Askeladd says:

    For this idea to work they really have to design this game in a way which shows the innovations of game design. If they fail a little bit at that it becomes a failure for lacking it’s own niche.

    But, still I doubt it’s a very good idea, because nostalgia in games means for me the story AND clever gameplay/puzzles at THAT time. Recreating only the mechanics may not be enough for me to really care.

    If the games length is just right, then I see a purpose for it.

    • Koozer says:

      I was just about to say something similar. If they can capture the gameplay limitations and quirks of each era too it could be gold! I hope we get to see some good old glitchyness and slowdown in the old graphics when there’s too much being rendered at once.

      • zbeeblebrox says:

        According to the Greenlight description:

        “Evoland is also a journey through the history of action/adventure gaming, allowing you to unlock new technologies, gameplay systems and graphics upgrades as you progress through the game.”

        So it sounds like they kept gameplay limitations in mind as well, and will dole them out as upgrades

  5. Milky1985 says:

    Ok that looks really really cool, music from the trailer as well was perfectly suited to how the game seems to work

  6. draglikepull says:

    Some friends and I in undergrad talked about making a game very similar to this. We never got around to making it, so it’s really cool to see that someone else is.

  7. PsychoWedge says:

    Well, consider me intrigued. This could be really awesome or totally lame… xD

  8. aliksy says:

    Looks interesting. Honestly I prefer the high quality 2d over the 3d. Well done 2d graphics age well.

  9. cjlr says:

    Laogai? DId I read that right?

    Gulag city?

    Does look interesting, though…

  10. str4 says:

    I liked the song.

  11. Urthman says:

    I like the idea, but I think it’s only worth doing if they can come up with some interesting link between the in-game story or progression and the meta-gaming-history progression.

  12. Wang Tang says:

    The in-game graphical progression reminds me of this: link to

  13. Trashcanman says:

    This only goes to show how much better 2d art holds up compared to 3d. Seriously, that last pic is fugly.

  14. Eddy9000 says:

    Interestingly as well as a commentary on how much games have evolved graphically it also serves as a statement on how little they’ve evolved in terms of gameplay.

    Nifty music though.

    • aliksy says:

      This is an excellent point.

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      It would be an excellent point, if it werent for the fact that not every game made since 1999 on every platform ever was a top-down cute-a-thon about a little man with a sword.

      Try out a “First Person Shooter”. You will find them revolutionary. You can SEE DOWN THE GUN.

      • Groove says:

        If only you could talk to the monsters, that would be a true revolution

  15. KevinLew says:

    When you mentioned that you have to unlock the ability to go left, it made me think of DLC Quest and I smiled.

  16. Baf says:

    See also Genetos, which does something similar for shmups.

  17. HaikuWin says:

    I always think that if you don’t have the time or money to polish 3D graphics to a triple-A standard then perhaps you should stick to 16 bit, some of my favourite and (imo) best looking games were of that era!

    This looks, at the moment, less like it goes through the evolution of gaming history and more like it goes from 8bit – 16bit – HD Remake – poor online 3D games..

    Hmm, this is a little downbeat.. *does a jig*

  18. Jasoco says:

    There are too many shades of “creamed spinach” in the Game Boy style mode. The Game Boy only had 3 shades of dark “on” and a single yellow “off” shade for a total of 4 shades. I count 6. And yes, I notice these things.

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      Its missing the dreadful LCD ghosting of the early models too

  19. jrodman says:

    There is no “bit” to graphics.

    You can’t say “these are 8 bit” and “these are 16 bit”. Each system had its entirely different graphic palettes and modes. If NES graphics are “8-bit”, what is an Atari VCS?

    What is an Oddysy 2?

    I also kind of dislike how all these fetishizations of gaming’s past uniformly reject the majority of the past outside that of Nintendo. If you’re going to celebrate the past, celebrate the actual diversity and breadth of variety of the past, not the same incredibly narrow slice over and over and over.

  20. greg_ritter says:

    This is awesome in style, but i can’t tell nothing of its substance. So I fear that the gimmick will wear off soon.

  21. MechanicalPen says:

    The first and second styles are the same, just with different colors…