14/02/2021

๐Ÿ‘’ Evan’s Remains | PC | Review by Pixel Hunted | 2/10 | "Evan’s Remains is about hitting ‘A’ over and over and over (and over) again" ๐Ÿ‘’ @PixelHunted # Evansremains #GameDev #IndieGames

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Evan’s Remains is about hitting ‘A’ over and over and over (and over) again. 

The game is 80% visual novel and 20% game: a barely interactive experience in which your participation is mostly jamming a button to cue up the next bit of bad writing.
Let’s deal with the ‘game’ part of this video game first. You play a young woman sent to a mysterious island. In her path are 25-30 single-screen platformer puzzles, which you solve by manipulating switches, toggling platforms, using your momentum and thinking a step or two ahead. 

I’m not some kind of brain genius or nothin’, but I solved the vast majority of these in under a minute. Even if you do somehow get stuck, you can simply skip any puzzle you wish with no penalty.
The rest of the game is devoted to the story, and staying engaged with this drivel proves more challenging than any of the puzzles. Some of this is simply down to the way it’s told. 

Your basic scene consists of two sprites chatting to one another with the dialogue ‘voiced’ by various pitches of beep. Watching barely animated characters beeping at each other like malfunctioning Morse code machines (you cannot disable the *beep-deedly-beep-beep-deedly-beep* sound effect) soon becomes unbearable. 

I was bored after 15 minutes. After an hour I was pulling my hair out. By the time the credits rolled I was simmering in a thick stew of bad vibes and had to go blast some imps in DOOM to cheer myself up.

I might be able to forgive the bad presentation if it were at least telling a good story, but Evan’s Remains plot is a Matryoshka doll of mystery boxes, each less interesting than the last. By the third or fourth time the game has stuffed its head up its arse, you’d need a superhuman level of patience not to be blindly hammering the ‘A’ button to get through the interminable conversations as fast as humanly possible.
I’m not necessarily opposed to long cutscenes, but Evan’s Remains is populated with smug and unlikeable characters who converse solely in riddles and “...” pauses. At every point, the dialogue is absurdly padded out, with every character taking three or four times as long to communicate what they mean than is necessary - you want to reach through the screen and yell at them to get to the damn point.

Then there are the constant (non-interactive) flashbacks to characters you don’t know anything about, talking about stuff you don’t care about, doing things you don’t understand. To its vague credit, the game offers a “fast-forward” option that allows you to zip through the story, but despite seriously considering it I figured it wouldn’t be fair to review it without suffering through the whole thing.

The rancid cherry on top is that the player is entirely a passive observer in what’s going on. I’ve wrung enjoyment from even the cheesiest visual novels by purposefully picking the most dramatic story choices, but your involvement in this story is limited to pressing A repeatedly to shuffle closer to its pointlessly cryptic finale.

The really frustrating thing is that there’s a lot in Evan’s Remains worthy of praise. The sprite and level art are detailed and attractive with the bright, sunny and slightly washed-out colour palette reminding me of GameBoy Advance games. 
The chilled out music is also pleasant enough and while there are no earworms, at least it doesn’t actively annoy. The game even nails those all too elusive satisfying platforming mechanics, so the controls and movement never get in the way of the puzzles.

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