I’ve played the first Evoland and I’m gonna go ahead and say that Evoland II is far better than the first one. Shiro games, the dev company, clearly took the time to find what made their first game work, kept those elements, and then added improved, new content to the 2nd game. This makes the experience, overall, above and beyond the one before it. You’ll participate in metroid-like platforming, Zelda puzzles, pop culture references (and, unfortunately, some memes), and even see characters reminiscent of Elizabeth from Bioshock, piranha plants from Mario, Sakura from Street Fighter, and many, many more, as well as exploring a centralized story line with original characters.
If you’ve played the first Evoland you’ll be surprised to note that this story’s a little bit more cohesive. It takes an old, tired, very much explored trope and brings a little bit of visual levity to it. I’m talking about time travel, people, as the title of the game so blatantly tells us. I’d say for the most part it’s implemented well. I’ve got patience for time travel stories though and I thought this one was kind of cute even if it is the traditional, “We need to get back to our time!” sort of thing. The graphic changes definitely assisted in keeping things fresh, though I could understand why some people might tire of the shift after the fourth jump or so. I was delighted each time things shifted around me.
The characters are tolerable and I found their mannerisms to be endearing if, again, a little trope-y. I don’t consider that a bad thing, though, as I felt the tropes definitely added to the game’s humour. The main character is your standard silent protagonist, but they’re sure to lampshade it plenty with many characters blatantly stating how little he talks. Personally, I’m always a sucker for that as it means, to me, that the creators are at least aware of the fact that silent character thing is overdone and it lets them laugh at the dynamic with us.
Unlike the first Evoland this story stands on its own. You don’t need to play the first game to understand this one and the plot is definitely more cohesive. It’s to the point where it almost doesn’t need to rely on the game-style gimmick and could just, instead, tell a story of the characters trying to get home through the ages. I’m glad it doesn’t though as I do feel that all the pieces fit together to make something that hasn’t been done completely before, elevating Evoland above some of the countless other time travel RPG’s out there.
The combat is simple RPG stuff with a few twists. There’s a healthy amount of button mashing and item collection, which is standard in RPG’s, but there’s also a neat ability to use your party members as power-ups. Holding the attack button charges a bar and once that fills up your party member assists you in an attack. It’s a neat little effect that I had fun with…when it was working properly.
The most frustrating part and ultimately what made the game lose a solid numeral score here was the 3D portion. In the first Evoland it was stronger, I think, mostly because it functioned correctly. The first 3D dungeon I was in was Zelda-esque and normally I’m completely into that, but the controls were just not working for me. The character was slippery, jumping forward when I would barely nudge the joystick and slamming into spike traps. There was no consistency and the depth was, at best, frustrating. Even the attack button frequently malfunctioned for me, sticking and making me do a charge attack instead of a single swing. Sometimes the stick controls would only let me swing once and then leave me staring at a boss when I could’ve gotten 3 or 4 hits in. I’m a patient person but even I had to shut the game down to take a breather after it behaved so badly on me like that. Maybe I’m the only one with this problem but I’ve seen a few other people getting some glitches in the 3D section. Hopefully these issues can be patched out later!
The soundtrack, I’ll say, was a big selling point of the game for me. Each area has a different song that totally fits the tone of the graphics and the activities that you’re doing and they are catchy. Sometimes when you play RPG’s and a song loops it gets annoying and I often mute the audio after a, bit but I had no problem with that here. It’s clear the composers put a good deal of thought and love into each measure and I appreciated that greatly.
From pixelated Pokemon Blue-esque graphics to Professor Layton style sprites, each visual element was delightful. The colours are bright, things move fluidly, and I caught myself chuckling a few times when the game would directly reflect some of my other favourite games. Definitely a jump up from the first game’s graphics.
Now, I’m a bit of a completionist with games I really enjoy so the little images with text that pop up on my screen that tell me I did something right matter to me a little more than most people. That being said, Evoland II has 38 achievements and they don’t seem to be crazy difficult. Some of the collection-based accomplishments, namely the stars, might require some back-tracking but besides that they’re mostly straight-forward.
Overall Score: 3.5/5
For 20$ you can pick up this game here and get a bright, entertaining little experience that you can’t get anywhere else. The campaign’s a pretty decent bang for your buck at around 22 hours for the main story. I’d recommend it if you’re into RPG’s and like playing a game chock-full of tangible love from the game developers.