Sunday, July 2, 2017

Evoland - 4/20 hours

I'm a little annoyed with this game. It wouldn't recognize my controller at first. So I searched online and found that to fix the problem, you've got to run the game in Windows 7 compatibility mode. Fair enough. However, upon doing so, I discovered that it stopped tracking my time in Steam. You'll just have to trust me when I say I've got a bit more than four hours into this game (it may even be as many as 5).

With that out of the way, I've beaten Evoland. Turns out all the trouble was the fault of this demon-looking guy named Zephyrous. Not that I found this out until the last dungeon, where he just came out of nowhere and claimed responsibility for the game' plot.

Taken on its own terms, Evoland's story was pretty weak overall. I'm not even going to summarize it. Suffice to say - bad stuff happens, you get an amulet, you take the amulet to a place, you fight a villain at the place, and then the bad stuff presumably stops (it never does say explicitly, though). However, I'm something like 95% sure that the weakness of the game's story was entirely intentional.

It doesn't quite rise to the point where game is winking at the player, saying "see, we did this shitty thing on purpose because it's funny." In fact, I'm not sure the plot is meant to be funny at all. I think that it was meant to simply give a broad-stroke impression of the genre as a whole. Much as the progression of graphics and mechanics was meant to evoke the history of rpgs, the story was meant to be the most rpg-est rpg story to ever be conceived.

Just as there was a dungeon that played like a low-fi version of Diablo and a dungeon that was a simplified version of Legend of Zelda and an overworld that was reminiscent of a scaled down Final Fantasy, so you also had story beats that felt like references to other games, stripped of their complexity and depth.

I can't say that I liked it, exactly. It was fine. A parody would have had more teeth. Plagiarism would have tried to capture more of the originals' context. Evoland tended to fall into the murky middle-ground in-between. Let's call its story a "slideshow of homages." Since I enjoyed the originals, I felt a certain degree of pleasure in the recognition, but I wish they'd done more with them.

I don't mean to be too down on the game, though. There were quite a few extraordinary moments, (mostly when the game was switching between technologies) and it's obvious that a lot of pride and care went into the making of the game. For me, it never rose above the level of a curiosity, but a well-done curiosity is something people will pay money to see. And Evoland is no exception. I'm glad I played it.

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