[Beyond PlayStation] Evan’s Remains Review
In 2D puzzle platformer Evan’s Remains from Whitethorn Digital and Matias Schmied, you search for the titular individual. Check our Evan’s Remains review!
Evan’s Remains is a mystery of a game, in today’s world where developers are usually armed with a dearth of ideas, but with a wealth of confidence, Evan’s Remains seems to be the reverse. Coming mostly from indie developer Mathias Schmied whom, according to the credits, is responsible for a majority of the content found in the game, from its core concept to its design to its music, it is clear that this must have been a labor of love from this (almost) one-man band, with the support of publisher Whitethorn Digital. Whilst Evan’s Remains is a puzzle platformer first on the surface, there is a worthwhile story once you dig a little deeper. You play as Dysis, a woman working for a somewhat questionable organization called Up-Bring, sent to a mysterious uninhabited island to find a missing prodigy by the name of Evan. After a long period of silence, Evan has reached out to the world, and it is your job to locate him.
The island is empty at first save for a few monoliths that eventually turn out to be part of a hidden message that you will decipher by solving the puzzles found within them, thereby unraveling the core mystery of the island itself. Deciphering the monoliths takes the form of platform puzzles that you have to solve. The puzzles are by no means mind-blowing but do well to tax you enough not to be a waste of time. The puzzles are varied and introduce new elements at a good interval to keep you engaged during its relatively short lifespan. Whilst attempting the puzzles, the game relies on trial and error. Rather than holding your hand and painstakingly explaining every aspect of the puzzles, the game trusts you to figure things out for yourself as you tinker and experiment until you eventually come to that “ah-ha” moment.
The art style is beautiful. The different environments you come across are inspired, wildly varied, and breathtaking in some instances, especially for a 2-D platformer. The same can be said for the majority of the sound design. The music is a strong aspect of the game. This does not apply to the sound effects used when people are talking. Voice acting is not in this one, which is a lot to ask for a short indie game, so silence would have been understandable instead of the 16-bit era “speech” drone sound effect that plays every single time someone speaks. With no way to lower or mute that jarring effect on the Nintendo Switch, you might have no choice but to mute the console entirely.
This thought leads to what, to me, is the most confusing element of the game. A great deal of effort went into making Evan’s Remains. The story is well thought out and stays strong almost all the way to the end. The controls for the puzzles are great, responsive, and feel excellent, in the sense that if you fail to make a jump, you never feel as though the game was at fault, you simply made a mistake or are misunderstanding an aspect of the puzzle. While everything is fine there, what confuses me is the implementation of some of its customization aspects.
For example, if, at any point, you find a puzzle to be too difficult or are too impatient, there is an option to skip it in the pause menu without any repercussions. This feature is unlimited, meaning you are free to skip all puzzles in the game, which I suppose makes sense if you are only interested in the story, but then you realize that you can also skip all conversations as well, should you wish to do so. I found it funny that you can effectively skip the whole thing from start to end credits without experiencing any of the game. This is why I felt that the game lacked a level of self-confidence. It seemed, at times, almost embarrassed that it was taking a bit of your time here and there, which is strange because what is here is good.
What the game should have featured is an option to restart puzzles. A couple of times whilst doing the puzzles, I ended up getting myself confused and needed to reset everything to its original state, but without a restart button, it took too long to reset everything. Some of the later puzzles do feature a platform on which you can jump to reset everything, but these platforms do not appear on all levels and are limited in what they actually reset when you decide to use them.
In addition, the option to skip dialog, which can be useful on second playthroughs, feels a little unnecessary. Yes, some sections can be lengthy in its chatter and seem as though they lead nowhere, but this option seems unnecessary if you are actually interested in the story, what would have been appreciated is a log system that kept track of the plot as the story progresses, so that you can go back to read what you may have missed or misunderstood as you learn more about what is going on.
Ultimately, Evan’s Remains is a gentle getaway you should not dismiss. If you like 2D puzzle games and are ready to check out an interesting story, all wrapped in a game with a gorgeous art style, then you should check this one on Nintendo Switch.
This Evanâ€™s Remains review is based on a Nintendo Switch copy provided by Whitethorn Digital.