First, it hooks you in with its cheeky references to games history, particularly Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda series. Then, Evoland 2 becomes a meaty adventure in its own right, with nods to the likes of Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy and several more surprising influences along the way.
Like its predecessor, Evoland 2’s visual style skips around the console generations, from the blocky grey-green graph paper of the Game Boy through to the flashy polygons of the PlayStation era.
There are surprise tributes to plenty of other games, of course, but that Zelda influence is by far the biggest. That means, naturally, that the story begins when you wake up in a strange land where there’s something sinister going down. So you chat to a few villagers, grab a sword and head off on an adventure.
If you’ve played A Link to the Past, you’ll appreciate this mix of sword-swinging, exploration and puzzle-solving. And if you know your video games, you’ll really enjoy some of the postmodern flourishes.
Inspect one of the trunks in the opening scene and you discover that “This chest could probably be opened if the developers of this game had time to code it”. And when you are sucked back in time – meaning a shift from SNES-style graphics to a simpler 8-bit look, your companion says: “I feel different… less detailed.”
Evoland 2’s charm is not just in its obvious love for game culture, but in the subversion of its tropes. It’s not just cheeky references in dialogue, either: there are some bold genre shifts that keep this adventure varied and constantly surprising.