Review: Evoland compresses three decades of video game history into one game

Today's Best Tech Deals

Picked by PCWorld's Editors

Top Deals On Great Products

Picked by Techconnect's Editors

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Evoland

In Evoland, you play a nameless (until you eventually unlock the ability to name yourself) adventurer, who wanders a rapidly changing world, stabbing monsters and looking for chests, without purpose (until you unlock the "Storyline" feature). Evoland began as a contest entry for 24-hour videogame design, and was sufficiently well received that Shiro Games expanded it into a full commercial product.

Evoland's opening screen. You've learned to move in one direction!

Evoland begins as a four-color, CGA style, 2D scroller, and evolves to gain color, graphics, and such revolutionary features as "save points" and "not dying in one hit." The early upgrades come rapidly, but as the game progresses, you spend more time in a given game style between radical changes.

Believe it or not, kids, these graphics were really impressive back in the day.

It's an excellent concept, and Evoland maintains a gentle humor about some of the clichés and tropes of older games without descending into mockery. Gameplay is smooth and generally quick: You have movement keys and a single action button, which does different things depending on context. There aren't a lot of hints or help, which is true to the time period Evoland embraces. Similarly, getting to automapping takes a while, and multiple save games aren't a feature.

Prepare to tromp all over the map to figure out what.

The main inspiration for Evoland is action RPGs, rather than the turn-based Final Fantasy style, though some of the game does play in that fashion. Most of the time, you are moving freely and smashing the action key, while trying to dodge fireballs or other impediments to your existence.

Gamers used to these types of games will probably find Evoland fairly straightforward. I was never a big fan of timing/reflex based games (Wizardry and Ultima were more my speed), so I found some of the areas occasionally frustrating, something which might not be true for many players.

The world is no longer flat.

The only real problem with Evoland is that although the concept of game evolution and feature unlock is great, depth of gameplay is added fairly slowly. The first few hours of play, while changing the interface and graphics regularly, offer very few monsters, items, or options. On the other hand, a rapid race through older systems and styles might be preferable, for some players, than playing in an outdated fashion long enough to remember why many of the older features were changed in the first place.

The world is no longer pixelated.

Evoland's complexities and options evolve alongside the graphics, and there are plenty of achievements to win and hidden areas to find. I recommend it.

Note: The Download button takes you to the vendor's site, where you can download the latest version of the software.

Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.
At a Glance
  • Recommended, especially for those who fondly remember the eras the game explores.


    • Fun concept
    • Challenging levels
    • Witty


    • Sometimes frustrating
    • Not too deep
Shop Tech Products at Amazon