Evoland shows how action-adventure games have matured, without the boring history lesson

When I spotted Evolandincluding the studio based in Bordeaux, France Shiro Games is billed as “a short history of the evolution of adventure video games”, two thoughts crossed my mind. First, it looked like an equally clever but more gorgeous version of Silicon Studio’s 3D Dot Game Heroes, a pixel throwback to the 8-bit era with modern sensibilities. Then I wondered how the developer planned to wrap up the whole story of a genre in one title.

It wasn’t until I spoke to Sebastien Vidal, CEO of Shiro and former COO of NCsoft Europe, that I began to understand what “evolution” really entailed.

Evoland itself is not new. Nicolas Cannasse, founder of the game company Flash Motion Twin, made Evoland Classic in about 30 hours for the Ludum Dare #24 Online Game Jam event, where people from all over the world donate a weekend to create a game. Cannasse participated in the challenge window which ran from August 24-27, 2012. is imposed with highest overall score. The theme this weekend? Evolution.

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Evoland Classic attracted more than 300,000 players in a few months. Now, with such interest in the game, Shiro has decided to create a full retail version of Evoland, which will be released first for PC and Mac in early March (and later iOS and possibly Android) for less than $10.

“Most of the feedback we’ve had [with Evoland Classic] is that people loved the concept rather than a specific part of the game, which makes a lot of people hooked on the idea when they first hear about it,” Vidal told GamesBeat. “This is not a game we’re expecting comments on graphics or music or an event in the storyline – although [we] had a lot about the music. (Audio was the category in which Evoland Classic scored lowest.)

Evoland Classic

In fact, the new Evoland doesn’t even have a story in the traditional sense. It’s not a narrative per se but rather a “story” of how action-adventure games have changed over the years.

“As in the Classic version, everything in Evoland is based on unlocking chests that grant access to new features, usually related to gameplay or technology,” Vidal said. “Players move back and forth between different styles of play, but the technology used to create the environment [will] always go forward. »

These unlocks include features such as a sword or the ability to save your progress – moments or mechanics that entered the genre as it progressed – as well as technological aspects such as upgrades higher quality graphics and music.

“The whole point of the game is to progress through those unlocks to unfold the story of the action-adventure game,” Vidal said.

Evoland 1

He also showed us three screenshots (two included here), where the player unlocks (don’t think of “unlocks” as in extra content; rather, these are essential parts of the game that drive their progress) Screen 16 colors, music, and the ability to enter homes (and “invade people’s privacy freely”, the game jokes).

I now half-expect rummaging through other people’s drawers and smashing their pots – two things Link from The Legend of Zelda is good at – which wouldn’t be too far off base. Vidal mentioned that Zelda, Dragon Quest, and Final Fantasy were all big influences.

“Evoland Classic was clearly inspired by the Zelda series,” Vidal said, “but we wanted to go beyond that and pay homage to the action-adventure genre as a whole rather than specific titles while keeping the humor parody of the original. Game.”

Evoland 2These “ironical comments” and references to gaming culture also include the names of people, places, and different secrets you can find.

Shiro goes further in the technical and gameplay evolution of the genre than Evoland Classic by including different combat types (like turn-based Active Time Battle and hack-n-slash), allowing players to switch between combat styles. game, and change the perspective from 2D to 3D (both pre-rendered and real-time). Vidal said things that block your path in 2D can appear flat in 3D.

“Unlike many games, the content in Evoland is there to serve the gameplay and not the other way around,” he said. “The game reverses roles, and you end up living a story against the backdrop of gameplay rather than playing a game along a script.”

It’s a “game about games”, as he calls it.

Evoland 3“In terms of depth, we actually discussed making a game about the whole history of gaming, starting with Pong all the way to full 3D action games,” he said. “But the editorial work just to choose what best represents each style and era would have been enormous – and the development time even longer – so we went back to the roots and ‘only’ expanded on the action-adventure styles. That alone could, in theory, span many RPG genres, and we’ve narrowed it down to a few cult series that worked with each other and had overlap in their audiences.

Vidal says the four-man team are happy with the positive feedback they’ve received on Steam green lightYouTube and other social networks like Facebook.

“We first thought [Evoland Classic] would mostly appeal to veterans of the genre, but it turns out a lot of people who tried the game and never played an RPG really enjoyed it,” he said. “For them, the experience of seeing a game evolve around them as they played completely overshadowed the fact that it was an action-adventure game. It could have been anything It was evolution that made them fun.

Evoland 4Evoland, well, evolution is what ultimately makes it different from countless other nostalgic retro throwbacks on the market.

“I guess Evoland only starts out as a retro game and ends up as a pretty modern game,” Vidal said. “We’re not trying to make a game like those of the past – in terms of graphics and/or gameplay – but rather to tell the story of those games.”

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