For those unaware of the term Metroidvania, it refers to a title that incorporates the fast paced 2D platforming action of Metroid and Castlevania and throws players into one giant map in which the player must traverse around. Unlike in other titles where the player needs to beat one level to then access the other, Metroidvania allows the player to go just about anywhere the game allows them to giving them access to unique secret locations and more. Various elements are implemented also such as a plethora of puzzle elements where the player will need to decipher certain codes in order to progress, or you’ll need to backtrack to collect items that couldn't be accessed before. Evil Genome takes all of those popular elements and takes players into a futuristic world that’s visually appealing and has hints of Capcom’s Strider and Monolith Soft’s Xenoblade X. RPG elements have also been thrown into the fray as you’ll need to level up your character as you go forward, collecting specific items and using skill points to distribute in a careful manner.
What to Expect
As with any Metroidvania inspired title, the whole premise of Evil Genome is to explore. Much of your time will be spent traversing the giant map in search for clues to help get you closer to the end goal, while dealing with a large number of enemies along the way. While it all may sound quite simple on paper, there’s a great deal of strategy and problem solving that needs to be applied, especially when facing off against bosses which are dispersed throughout the map. This nonlinear approach gives you the opportunity to search for items that maybe you forgot along the way but it also forces you to keep track of where you’ve already been to since everything is connected. Expect a lot of action as you race through each section dealing with unrelenting creatures all of whom come with different attacks, and so, you’ll need to know how to properly deal with them during each encounter. The main difference however between your conventional 2D platformer and Evil Genome is that this title takes place in a 3D world, though to be honest it looks more 2.5D than anything. Be that as it may due to the visual upgrades made to the world around you there’s more to explore and a lot more to encounter in this action adventure title.
Much of the gameplay revolves around main protagonist Lachesis and her Iron Egg named Alfa, and the two of them must work under the rules of the TLS Organization in order to bring down corrupt colonies and claim justice for those in danger. Much of your time is spent exploring a wasteland filled with mystery, and you’ll be doing a lot of running back and forth in order to scavenge items for your journey. While Evil Genome certainly does a fine job of maintaining the Metroidvania experience, there were times where we felt more could’ve been done to further improve the experience.
Before we go into the cons of the game, let’s look a little closer at what makes Evil Genome fun. For starters we really enjoyed the visual appeal since unlike other conventional Metroidvania style games that primarily place their attention on the more retro 2D feel, the developers created the same tried and true experience but with a more alluring look. Being able to level up your character via skill trees was also a plus because it encourages you to really explore the game, and not just run through without much preparation.
Every skill requires a different number of points to acquire, so being able to decide just which skill will benefit you in a given scenario is a plus. The voicing is both a pro and a con because the voicing gave the game a lot more life and you didn’t have a silent protagonist running around everywhere killing enemies. Giving life to the main character through speech really made things feel more genuine and gave Lachesis and Alfa more meaning. On the con side, we really thought things could’ve been improved dramatically because there were times when the same voice would be used on another NPC, or that there was a lack in enthusiasm when you come into contact with anyone. This really bogged us down a little bit because you’d think that the main character would have a lot more determination in her voice but at times, it almost felt like a very simple and meaningless conversation. The lack of energy in the voices confused us since we weren’t sure whether things were to be taken seriously or jokingly. This is something that stood out to us the most and hopefully this can be rectified perhaps in a sequel, should the developer choose to do so. The subtitles would often not match up with what the characters are saying and there are a lot of spelling errors throughout as well. Of course we’re not here to judge a game based off of spelling mistakes but it certainly is the responsibility of the developer to ensure that the game can maintain a great degree of accuracy so players can fully enjoy the experience.
We enjoyed the battle scenarios and being able to utilize different skills but sadly, the game runs into a problem where attack animations feel very limited in their use. For example, the sword that you wield can’t perform any more than 2-3 actions and you can’t cancel out of the attack into let’s say your gun attacks. Due to this issue there were times when we’d be bombarded by a number of enemies and since we were still in our attack animation, we couldn’t dash cancel out of it which led to us eating a lot of damage. You’re able to jump in the air and perform Devil May Cry like combos but even at that point, your actions are quite limited and don’t allow the player to freestyle in any way they feel. For this reason, the game starts to wane in excitement the further you go on because after awhile, you get tired of seeing the same things over again. That lack of fluidity and freedom of control is what made games like Strider and Devil May Cry so thrilling to play, because those two games gave the player the opportunity to come up with cunning ways of stripping the enemy life bar down, while still offering a very action packed experience. So while the Metroidvania appeal paired with the RPG elements do give Evil Genome a fresh feel in a way, it starts to grow stale once you start to realize you don’t have as much control over the character as you think.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
In the end, Evil Genome started off very fun, and slashing your way through hordes of enemies felt satisfying. Collecting special items and using them to your advantage was always a treat, and strategically coming up with ways to counter bosses in battle was certainly great as well. However all of that comes to a halt when you have to deal with limitations not only in battle but your skills as well, since you only have so much skill slots to use. We also weren’t able to change our controller bindings as well which wasn’t a big deal on our end, but for others who may want to customize their bindings, it may be an issue for them. The option IS there but every time we tried to change it, the buttons wouldn’t change. Perhaps it’s only on our end who knows, but in spite of that more improvements must be made to really give this game more potential long term.
Stays to the true Metroidvania experience with exploration, problem solving, and platforming action.
Visually appealing with its 2.5D approach.
RPG elements allowed for more versatility.
Character animations weren’t as fluid.
NPC characters often don’t respond in a very smart way during battle.
Voice acting could use some improvements.
Lack of freedom in attack animations started to grow stale after a while.
No console version may also hurt the game in the long run.
Honey's Final Verdict:
If you’re a Metroidvania fan, we certainly think you should try this game out just to get a feel for things. It’s not a terrible game by any means, but it definitely requires some tweaking to really make things stand out. If the areas we mentioned were fine tuned perhaps in a later patch or something then Evil Genome would really be an awesome title. However for now, we have to point out those flaws and state the truth. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to know when we drop new updates on the latest game and anime releases, and of course follow us on Twitch to know when we go live with more games!
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Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!