Play Through the History of Gaming in the Innovative, Beautiful Evoland

April 5, 2013 | Andy Cush

Evoland bills itself as a playable history of video games: It starts in 8-bit, with minimal color, limited abilities, and no sound effects, and as you progress, the game’s specs evolve along with you. The color palette gets wider, graphics get better, and your hero learns how to move in different ways and use new tools. Save points aren’t even available until you unlock them. Eventually, you arrive at high-def, 3D graphics and gameplay that wouldn’t be out of place on a modern console.

The closest point of reference isn’t any other video game but James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, in which the third-person narrative voice grows and matures according to the protagonist’s age and disposition. All of which would be well and good if the game were nothing but an intellectual exercise, but the play itself is well fucking addictive also, and will be a surefire nostalgia trip for anyone who grew up on RPGs and adventure games.

The original version of Evoland was created in 48 hours as a part of Ludlum Dare–a kind of indie game hack day–and is available to play free in your browser here. The developers eventually supplemented the relatively rudimentary Evoland Classic with way more features and capabilities, and yesterday, they launched a $9.99 Mac and PC version (full disclosure: I haven’t played this one yet) with plans to eventually port to iOS and Android.

Watch a trailer for the full-featured Evoland below: