What do you get when you take one part SNES action-RPG, one part indie development, and one part plot twist? EvilQuest, of course. An homage to bygone days of gaming, EvilQuest falls somewhere in between Crystalis for the NES and The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past for the SNES, with the unique story twist that you’re not the hero trying to save the world from annihilation, but rather the dark, powerful foe seeking to kill God himself and destroy the universe. This leads to some campy elements, as you might expect, but overall I thought it was pretty well put together.
The basic story is told through a pregame cutscene reminiscent of the era of games from which EvilQuest draws its inspirations. In times past, the demonic Galvis tried to dominate the world, only to fall due to the betrayal of one of his trusted generals. Having the monstrous knight defeated and imprisoned, the realm’s King Jerric ushered in a long peace that brought prosperity to much of the land and established a time devoid of wars and conflicts. Then, one fateful day, the evil Galvis escapes from prison, and begins a new campaign of destruction and death. As the player, you take on the role of Galvis from the moment of this breakout, and must make your way across the land in search of four seals that stand to keep demonic forces – and, perhaps, apocalypse – at bay.
Graphically, EvilQuest isn’t much to look at, but the simple art doesn’t detract from what the game does well – which, frankly, is quite a lot. True to the form of the action-RPG, there’s all manner of equipment to be had, areas to explore, magical weapons to wield, and villages to visit as you quest for world-ending vengeance against the king who defeated you and the general who betrayed you. The story is a bit muddled at times, but skips along nicely and does a good job of being different from the typical “kill the bad guy, get the magic object” stuff. As you begin your journey, there’re several areas open, but prompts alert you to which ones you’re not yet ready to take on, as well as hinting at what you’ll need to progress. Finding these items, of course, is left up to you.
From a mechanics standpoint, EvilQuest is sound, if not exactly innovative. Attacks can be charged up, and a variety of magics can be employed to wreak ruin on those who stand in your way, or to heal yourself during gruelling battles. Numerous bosses and boss-like fights litter the gameplay, each requiring some different strategy to best. There’s a lot of content here, and a good number of places to visit, people to talk to, and even the dialogue isn’t so bad, considering. There are some moments that could have been done better, probably, but as far as indie outings go, EvilQuest manages to keep it simple without being too sparing. I had an absolute blast playing, and spent a good several hours digging in and exploring, fighting, and taking it all in without boredom or repetitiveness becoming much of an issue.
The bottom line here is that EvilQuest is a fantastic addition to the adventure-RPG genre, without going too overboard in its attempt to turn things around by casting the player as the villain. Graphically simple yet consistent, it evokes a nostalgic sense of wonderful fun, and all comes together very nicely in a way that makes it very approachable without making it too simple. Oh, and did I mention that it’s only $1.99 on Steam? For that low price, I don’t have the slightest hesitation in recommending this title to any fan of the genre, or to anyone who’s able to look beyond what some would consider aged aesthetics for a game that’s just plain fun to play.
[+Interesting take on the genre] [+Responsive, easy to use controls] [+Great homage to older gaming] [+Fun, engaging story and gameplay] [-Sound is a bit weak] [-Many re-used enemy sprites through each area]