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EvilQuest (Xbox 360) artwork

EvilQuest (Xbox 360) review

"For a change of pace, destroy a world instead of saving it! It feels good!"

EvilQuest (Xbox 360) image

Unlike a few indie titles I've played recently, I didn't find myself wondering if I got my full dollar's worth of entertainment by the time I'd finished EvilQuest. While it is content to tread down the same path as many other action-RPGs, it at least possesses a different premise and also provides a few hours' worth of entertaining play.

You know how games like this usually go: you hear tales of a horrific demon that once waged war on existence, only to finally be imprisoned. Of course, there are evil forces seeking to bring back that monster, leading to you taking control of a brave hero destined to eliminate the villains before you put down the demon once and for all.

Only the first sentence of that synopsis actually relates to the plot of EvilQuest, though. You don't control a brave hero looking to prevent the rebirth of a world-destroying demon; instead, your on-screen avatar is an evil overlord named Galvis, and you are looking to succeed where that being failed. Your goals are simple: kill the local king and any of his soldiers dumb enough to stand in your path, break four seals in order to claim a powerful weapon known as the Chaos Axe, use that artifact to storm the heavens and slaughter your world's god and, finally, use all of the power you've accumulated to obliterate the world, if not all existence.

EvilQuest (Xbox 360) image

The game's intro paints Galvis as the be-all, end-all of tough S.O.B.s, which makes it all the more jarring when you see just how quickly his attempt to accomplish step one of that process gets quashed. On the way to the king's castle for a bit of regicide, one of his two subordinates betrays him at the first opportunity, leaving he and his forces to get routed by the king's army. But because good is dumb, instead of slaying the defeated Galvis, the king simply locks him in his dungeons.

This is where you come in. You take control of the overlord just as he plans a cunning escape from the dungeons. Well, "cunning" might be the wrong word, as all he really does is taunt a particularly stupid guard into opening his cell and then sends the fool to the fate he so richly deserves. From there, Galvis re-collects his old gear and heads out into the world for a second try at accomplishing his diabolical goals.

From there, you'll scour the overworld in search of the shrines holding the four seals while also confronting the good king, the not-so-good traitor and a whole bunch of soldiers attempting to reach the seals before you do. Overall, this is a pretty simple and linear game, where you generally will know exactly where you need to go at any given time. Both the spell and item of your choice can be mapped to buttons to make things as streamlined as possible. Upon gaining levels, you'll gain a handful of points to apply to your strength, defense, durability and magic stats. Nothing here reinvents the wheel or anything like that, but it's easy to get into and fun, so I find it hard to make complaints about the basics of this game.

EvilQuest (Xbox 360) image

A large percentage of Xbox indie games tend to be made as homages to one classic title or another and EvilQuest is no exception. The game I found myself reminded of the most was the NES' Crystalis. The overworld regions and dungeons were designed in the same free-roaming style, where the map isn't divided into a bunch of small rectangular rooms the way it was in The Legend of Zelda. At times, elemental weaknesses come into play, as you'll be unable to damage monsters in the ice region until you've obtained the fire sword. You can charge up your attack to send projectiles flying across the screen. You even have the same sort of "clink" sound when a weak foe incapable of damaging you tries to attack.

If I were to compare this game to that inspiration, I'd be hard-pressed to say which is better. Working in EvilQuest's favor is its more streamlined and convenient approach. While I loved Crystalis when I first played it, that game just didn't age well. You had four elemental swords and constantly had to go to the menu screen to swap one out for another because many monsters were only vulnerable to a particular weapon, as well as the occasional "what do I do now?" moment that made me grateful my parents had gotten me that subscription to Nintendo Power.

In that aspect, EvilQuest is superior, but it falters as far as balance is concerned. As Crystalis progressed, it grew increasingly difficult. Dungeons got larger and more enemies proved capable of inflicting either huge amounts of damage or debilitating status ailments. Heck, if you weren't carrying the right item, getting turned to stone or into a helpless monster could prove to be a game-ender! Not so here, as a smart player can completely break this game, making the final dungeons easier to complete than the early ones.

It all comes down to how, when you gain levels, you choose to allocate points to your stats. I simply ignored magic and (for the most) part health, and instead focused on strength and defense with the emphasis on power. To say that was an effective approach would be an understatement. I didn't even die once during the entire six or so hours I spent playing this game, and I only found myself in any real degree of trouble a couple times. The only magic I used was one of the cure spells, as I relied on my basic attack against normal enemies and my charge attack for bosses.

That sort of thing leaves this game to offer "mindless fun," rather than something that's thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying. EvilQuest was cool to run through, but with a lack of optional dungeons, side quests or challenge, it's not something I'll want to play through repeatedly. The main thing that sets this game apart from the pack is that you're controlling an unrepentantly evil person who wants to destroy the world and even that element tends to be under-utilized. Galvis' interactions with any NPC more important to the plot than a typical townsperson are appropriately harsh and often end with the other person getting killed, but that just leads to a question: if he is an evil overlord whom everyone is supposed to hate and fear, why is he welcome to stay at the town's inn and buy magic, equipment and items just like an actual hero? When in town, unless Galvis starts talking, you probably wouldn't even know he is a villain, since people talk to him amiably about where key items may be found and guards offer no resistance other than standard "Don't get up to mischief here!" lines.

But for the $1 I spent for EvilQuest, it's hard to complain much. I generally had a good time for those six or so hours and it was entertaining seeing just how far Galvis would get in his quest to kill everyone and everything. From the time you finally get to storm the king's castle to settle that score until the end, the boss fights come frequently, as one heavy hitter after the next tries to desperately put an end to his quest. Without much challenge, none of them proved too much of a threat, but I was at least entertained in the short term while putting them down!


overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (April 11, 2015)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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