By Jason Quinn / April 14th, 2020
|Developer||maitan69 (Matías Schmied)|
|Release Date||June 11th, 2020|
|Platform||PC, Switch, PS4, Xbox One
Editor’s Note: Due to the postponement of GDC, oprainfall has taken it upon themselves to help provide coverage to developers who were going to showcase their games there. Evan’s Remains is one of those games.
Evan’s Remains is a puzzle platformer. Someone named Evan that’s been missing for a rather long time has sent out a letter asking another someone named Dysis to come find them on some uninhabited island. So you set out, and quickly find that this uninhabited island was definitely inhabited at some point. You can solve puzzles, or just walk around them if you’re so inclined, as you unravel the mystery of what’s going on.
Its a pretty straightforward game with a simple premise, and unraveling the mystery is one of the biggest draws, so I’m not gonna go into it much more than that. I can talk about the gameplay though. The whole game is a series of little logic puzzle challenges solved via platforming. The platforming itself is very basic and not demanding at all, the difficulty comes from the puzzles themselves. There’s no tutorials whatsoever, you just learn by doing. Jump on platforms to figure out what they do and reach the exit of the puzzle. After a couple puzzles, you get a bit more story, so the game keeps up a decent pace. You’re never bogged down by any one thing.
You can also just skip puzzles if you’re so inclined, which is contextualized by the protagonist Dysis simply walking around them. It does make me wonder why in-universe she would decide to mess with them though. She offers some explanation that its simply something to do, but then hints that there’s some other deeper reason. They never really go into what that reason is. The puzzles are giant hieroglyphs that spell out a message, and a really easy explanation could’ve been that you have to solve the puzzle in order to figure out what the hieroglyph is. Maybe skipping puzzles could result in the other person on the island, Clover, solving the puzzle instead.
Its a really minor complaint, but after beating the game, I couldn’t help but feel that the puzzles were literally just there to have something to do. They weren’t bad puzzles by any means, and I enjoyed doing them, but they just didn’t have any sort of place in the narrative. I’m not sure if I would’ve even felt this way if the characters never bothered to call out the fact that the puzzles are kind of pointless. Though perhaps I only did them because I chose to believe they were important, even when the game said they weren’t.
The puzzles themselves are fortunately engaging enough, never becoming overwhelming, but also never becoming predictable. It slowly introduces more and more gimmicks like teleporters and platforms that can change into other types of platforms. It does so at a brisk pace, so you never feel like you’re going through the motions. That said, I feel like they also never really reached their potential. The mechanics here could’ve led to some truly devious and tricky puzzles, but that also just wasn’t the goal of the what the game set out to do. The real draw is the mystery of the story. The game comes close to interweaving its gameplay and narrative, but it doesn’t go all the way. Ultimately I think someone that skips all the puzzles would end up with a fairly similar experience to someone that didn’t.
Evan’s Remains looks quite nice with some very charming sprite art. I found the character portrait art to also be very well done and captured the character’s emotions wonderfully. I do wish the puzzles were a little more visually varied, but considering the reason for the puzzles to exist in the first place, it makes sense that they look very similar to each other. The music is all very relaxed and ambient electronic pieces. Nothing so tense or dramatic here, it makes the perfect accompaniment to methodically solving the puzzles.
Evan’s Remains is a neat little game, it’s only a few hours long, but I enjoyed my time with it. A good and fun mystery to unravel with some nice emotional moments and some puzzles to solve. As good a recipe as any, I think. The release date is a ways off at June 11th, and there’s no set price yet. Even though I think this game comes short of being something special, if you like puzzle platformers, this is worth putting in your collection.
Review copy was provided by the publisher.
evan's remainsmaitan69Puzzle Platformerwhitehorn digital