Evoland was one heck of a game when it launched back in 2013. It managed to be unique with its concept of bringing players through the history of video games. Since then, many more games have pushed for the same aesthetics with middling results. That’s not to say Evoland was a perfect game. Although fun, it got a bit too grindy near the end and was too short to really get players invested in any specific timeframe. Evoland 2: A Slight Case of Spacetime Continuum Disorder has a much larger scope. Instead of being some 2-4 hour jaunt, the complete game will probably run around 20 hours long. With an expanded time frame, that means there’s even more time to explore different decades of gaming as well as a boatload of genres.
As a fan of the original despite its shortcomings, I was excited to take a look at an extended preview of Evoland 2 and see how everything’s evolved. It’s a bit of a shock just how much more of a “game” this is, with deeper storyline and mechanics that aren’t just an attempt to get players feeling all nostalgic. Of course, the whole decade-hopping feature simply had to return. As you begin, there’s a distinct sense of familiarity with the chunky pixel art and simple gameplay. After a little bit, though, everything shifts to a more 16-bit appearance. The characters react to the change, but beyond that the visual updates don’t seem particularly meaningful.
Over the course of a few hours, Evoland 2 shifted its gameplay mechanics multiple times. Fancy the action RPG stylings of The Legend of Zelda? You’ll get your fair share of that. But hey, want to play a stealth mission too? No? Well, you’ve got to do it anyway. At least there’s a cardboard box for you to hide in which totally isn’t a reference to any tactical espionage action games out there. Honestly, it was interesting to see that there were not a ton of obvious callouts to other games because references are often what games of this style heavily lean on as cheap humor. That’s a plus in my book, though it means everything is far more dependent on the actual storyline.
While I’ll leave the storyline a mystery for the time being, it does facilitate the inclusion of many more gameplay styles as well as distinct locations to visit. My expectation was for loads and loads of typical fantasy-style forests and the like, but there’s a lot more variety to the landscapes than that. It’s worth noting that not everything in Evoland 2 is for the better. For example, it felt like the controls of grabbing while jumping in a 2D platformer segment didn’t always work. Then, in a puzzle segment it appeared there were no ways to reset the screen after completely screwing up (sometimes the messed up puzzle even prevented you from backtracking to reload the area).
Had this game been focused on just one genre that gameplay component would be finely tuned. With tons of gameplay aspects to keep in mind it seems that not all of them are prepared for prime time. That’s really the biggest issue with Evoland 2 at the moment. Everything has the potential to tie together, but some quirks of gameplay make the execution inconsistent. When it gets everything just right you can fall right in for a few hours, but then suddenly get pulled out by a weird little bug. Given the game is still in development, though, there’s room for the team to smooth out the more meddlesome issues.
Finally, there’s the intensely regimented nature of the first half of Evoland 2. Apparently the second portion of the game will really let players roam in a more free-form fashion, but all that I played was all about following a rigid pathway of goals. Do this, do that and there’s only really one way to succeed. Luckily, it seems the game is good to go in many aspects, feeling totally complete from a visual and musical standpoint. That’s a great thing because the release date is quickly creeping up. Evoland 2 is not only much larger than Evoland, but brings with it a greater sense of self.