Have You Played… Evoland?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Aren’t games brill? I mean, look at Evoland [official site], and RPG that explores the history of its own genre, evolving from a monochrome Gameboy game through to the lovely 3D worlds of the Gamecube, hitting each Zelda-like milestone along the way.

As it unfolds, it does so with a deft hand and a smart use of what might have been overly knowing references. And perhaps more importantly, manages this chronological tour at the same time as being an interesting game itself.

It does rather spoil a long section with dreary random encounters that incessantly interrupt but offer no pleasure to plough through. But around these, it’s a smart, funny and very clever game, and a lovely tribute to a lovely genre.


  1. Kefren says:

    I couldn’t really get into this. Probably because it didn’t resemble my gaming history – Atari 2600 to C64 (and bit of Speccy) to Amiga to PC. I’d have loved a game that had more of a British evolution than the Nintendo stuff, which was never part of the gaming scene back in my school/college. It always seemed like a US and Japanese thing. I bet Evoland was great for anyone that had played Nintendo stuff though.

  2. draglikepull says:

    Evoland was a really cool idea that ran out of steam long before it ran out of game. I loved the early Zelda-ish stuff where you’re slowly upgrading the world fidelity, but eventually it starts to feel like they’re just throwing in everything they can fit without any real flow or purpose.

  3. Risingson says:

    What everyone said above. The ideas in the graphics are miles better than the ones in the game design. I enjoyed Life of Pixel quite a bit more in that matter.

  4. Chaoslord AJ says:

    Interesting idea, entertaining for a while but in the end short and pointless. I can’t even remember the story, brief as it was.
    History of RPGs? I could get up and still play all of those on the emulator or PC.

  5. vorador says:

    A great idea, but not so good execution. It was an elaborated little homage to japanese RPGs and their evolution, rather than a true game.

  6. Yglorba says:

    I remember liking the original free version, which was made for some game jam or another and was small and short and clever.

    I think it was a mistake for them to try and expand that into a full game, though. The problem was that since it tried to cover every single stage of RPG development, it inevitably spread itself way too thin – the individual parts weren’t particularly fun or well-made, and the novelty of unlocking them wears off pretty quickly. Also, trying to touch on every single genre meant that they lost the sense of steady progression that was key to the free version (which was the first few minutes of the “full” version, for those who didn’t play it) – you just leaped from one shallow homage to another, rather than steadily adding new gameplay and graphics like they could do in the smaller initial concept.

    I think it could have worked if they set their sights on a narrower, more specific set of interlocking concepts and honed them so each new unlocked mechanic felt meaningful; or if they had a more solid central plotline and characters to develop the basic nostalgia into something more impactful.

    But as it was it feels like the concept was thoroughly explored in the original proof-of-concept.

  7. RickyButler says:

    What others said, but:

    Evoland 2 was an utterly fantastic RPG, and did everything the first tried to do with far more success. Evoland was OK, but the sequel is a modern cult classic.

    • samination says:

      Is it really that good? I felt burned by the first so have been ignoring the sequel.

      • RickyButler says:

        The sequel feels like an actual game that just happens to reference a lot of 16-bit classics, whereas the original felt like it had nothing going for it outside of those references.

        The original’s story was an excuse for the gameplay, and the gameplay was always shallow in imitating whichever classic. The sequel’s gameplay was definitely refined, I thought, to be both challenging and rewarding — not simply a reference.

        So…yeah, I mean, on the broadest level, the sequel did nearly everything right that the first failed to do. You don’t necessarily progress through the eras, but have means to dive forwards and backwards (a la Chrono Trigger) to accomplish whatever you need to accomplish, which also helps it feel like more than walking through an on-rails museum exhibit.

        Hope this helps a little; I feel like I just danced around saying the same thing 5 similar ways while being vague.