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EvilQuest (Xbox 360) artwork

EvilQuest (Xbox 360) review

"Once the shock that I was playing a wanna-be retro title wore off, all that was left was a basic, by the books action RPG. As Rotten Tomatoes likes to say, it was a genre exercise."

EvilQuest asset

What I witnessed when I fired up EvilQuest was not groundbreaking or even original. Antiquated visuals made up a 2D world. I stepped into an action-RPG with an overhead view, as if the game itself was a portal to 1990. Tugging at our retro heartstrings has become a familiar hook for many games, and it definitely worked here. The game had my attention, it gripped my interest, and it made me want to play more. "You remember Crystalis, don't you?" the game asked. EvilQuest dipped into my mind, found out what I loved, and used it to lure me through its dark plot. Where it would take me, I didn't know.

It thrust me into the role of the dark knight Galvis, on a mission to obtain unstoppable power and use it to bring widespread destruction upon the land. He was a creature like the one Alfred Pennyworth described in The Dark Knight: he just wanted to watch the world burn. His first human interactions in the game set up just how awful he was. He first shanked a young prison guard and taunted him while he slowly died. Afterward he freed a thief who aided him in escaping, only to shank the man as well and spout off more of his hateful villainy. Here is where I would have hoped for poetic misanthropy in the dialogue, but instead had to settle for the silly and the accidentally hilarious.

Galvis was so simple-minded in his villainy that he sounded like a stock villain from a 1980's Saturday morning cartoon. He muttered about how he'd like to murder various characters or random NPCs, reassured himself when he didn't completely butcher a village that he'll do it later, and often fantasized about killing God. Many times he'd hold a stilted conversation with an NPC, then stab them for no reason and spout of more stock villainy and hatred. Rather than further assert his tyranny, each murder added to an accidental running gag.

EvilQuest asset

The fact that it came off as comedic didn't bother me. The fact that I couldn't tell whether or not I was playing a poorly written dark comedy or a poorly written dark RPG did. I didn't know whether or not I should feel terrible for laughing, and couldn't fully appreciate the story because of this. I eventually became numb to any plot developments, and decided before the end that I didn't care if Galvis succeeded in his mission.

Staying the course wasn't a complete wash, though. Stabbing and slashing my way through a menagerie of monstrous sprites proved to be an ample distraction from the laughable narrative. If EvilQuest got anything right, it's the ease with which it played. There was nothing more to it than stabbing anything that moved, or perhaps blowing it to bits with a destructive spell, but what more was needed? Chaosoft made the best of the mechanics by sending loads of creatures, from nasty rats to vicious dragons to legions of the undead. Although I could easily weave around the enemies and take choice shots, they still managed to tear me apart. As quickly as I could slash a frost dragon, it could freeze me and score a series of free shots. A cheap move, but I'll take my difficulty where I can get it.

Narrow hallways and winding, maze-like corridors were perfect venues for such simple battle. Each dungeon was elaborate and handled with care. Through the twisting paths of a vile sewer I traveled, eventually winding up in an ancient pyramid. After navigating the convoluted cave system of a massive mountain, I battled an army of demons and dragons in a maze of teleporters. Exploration rewarded me not only with choice bits of battle and subsequent experience, but with decent loot, including some of the best pieces of armor the game had to offer.

EvilQuest asset

It may sound like the gameplay more than made up for the lack of solid storytelling. Unfortunately, once the initial retro shock died down, I began to realize how shallow EvilQuest actually was. The further into the game I got, the easier it became. I soon learned how to game the system purely by stocking up on potions or saving up cash for more powerful healing spells. With staunch enough healing capabilities, I could play like slop and still come out on top. In many cases, my potion stock determined how successful I was going to be in completing a dungeon.

Boss battles were especially an anticlimax because of this. With a couple exceptions, I trounced most of them with little trouble. There was a great battle in the depths of a volcano against a fire-breathing false deity that could have been challenging. The beast attacked from multiple angles while moving around a lava-filled room. Treading without taking damage was difficult. Defeating the boss was not. Thanks to the supply of healing goods and the ridiculous power of the healing, this guy was a breeze. Heck, even the cluster of final battles was cake thanks to abundant healing and slim difficulty.

Once the shock that I was playing a wanna-be retro title wore off, all that was left was a basic, by the books action RPG. As Rotten Tomatoes likes to say, it was a genre exercise. It wasn't by any means a broken or buggy title. The combination of poor writing and lacking difficulty assured that I would lose some of my interest by the game's end, and by that time I was begging for it to be over. But let's not think of it as a horrible title. It did provide some light entertainment for a low price, and it only lasted a few hours. If anything, EvilQuest is a great title for a lazy day off.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (May 24, 2012)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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