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evan's remains

Within this decade, we have seen some great indie platformers which have revolutionized the genre. Be it the satisfying stage-replay of ‘Katana: Zero‘ or Celeste‘s finely turned warps and jumps synced with its outstanding background score, indie devs have out-shone AAA studios with their passion for game development, time and time again. But these things don’t come so easy, devs often have to go out of their ways to keep their passion projects alive.

I recently came across Matías Schmied’s post on the PlayStation blog before the release of his debut title Evan’s Remains. Argentina-based Matías Schmied (maitan69 Studios) had to overcome numerous regional and linguistic barriers to pitch his idea. After being turned down by several investors and publishers, Schmied’s vision was finally backed by ‘Whitehorn Digital‘ who agreed to publish and allocate small funds for its development and also started a crowdfunding Kickstarter, it turned out to be a success. Schmied accredits his ‘online presence’ and ‘portfolio’ for his Kickstarter success.

Inspired by beautiful Japanese pixel art, this part graphic novel, and part puzzler platformer is hitting the Steam and PSN stores on June 11. It is also being released for Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.

Story and Narrative

“Out of the blue”

Years after a boy genius named Evan disappears, a bizarre letter arrives addressed to Dysis, a little girl. Evan apparently wants her come find him. As Dysis, you’ll need to solve an intricate series of puzzles to unravel the entire mystery and bring Evan home. The overall plot heavily relies on the character dynamic of Dysis and Clover, whom she befriends while seeking Evan’s whereabouts on the mystical island. Dysis’s interactions with Clover drive the story forward and Clover quickly becomes the star. It’s a short tale that delves into the themes of despair, terminal illness and lies turned into truths.

evan's remains

At its inception, the plot seemed to be excessively emphasizing on its narrative and riddled with too many dialogues. But as you move forward, it does get the hold of you and everything goes down in an unforeseeable climax. This turning point seemed so abrupt it took me a while to digest it. It is rare to see this kind of emphasis on the story in a platformer. The overall plot is decent but the campaign is short. Steam says it took me 109 minutes to beat the whole game with its post-credits puzzles.

Gameplay and Mechanics

“Wits over reflexes”

Evan’s remains is a platformer with de-emphasized jumping. The control scheme is fairly simple whether you’re using a keyboard or a controller. All these things add up to make it a ‘peaceful’ platformer. But that doesn’t mean that it lacks in challenges, for that it includes a set of puzzles in which a platform can only be used once. When you jump from one platform to another, the preceding one disappears. By doing so you can also alter the arrangement of platforms. To add more flexibility, there are tools to alter platforms, to transit from one to another, to change the position of platforms or to reset. For all this, you will be relying on your wits over your reflexes.

evan's remains

The featured puzzles have been bolstered in quality by the fairly decent level design. There are enough variations in levels to challenge your puzzle-solving skills. At times, these may seem impossible to solve but they are all fair in terms of difficulty. Each puzzle here is followed by a monolith or a heliograph having ancient scripts etched onto them. While you’re onto solving these puzzles, Clover is transcribing each of these one at a time.

evan's remains

Overall my only complaint in this department is that there weren’t more of these puzzles. Just when things start to get a bit more interesting, everything seemingly comes to an abrupt end. On the bright side, it seems to be aimed at a broad audience. In succession, puzzles do get tougher but you always have the option to skip the puzzle if it is too overwhelming.

Visuals, Sound, and Performance

“Beautiful Pixels, Monotonous Music”

The Japanese pixel-art style featured in Evan’s Remains is mesmerizing. Everything looks sharp and the colors are contrasting, giving you a crisp look when put together. Plus it also features the dynamic movement of clouds, waterfall, and flower fields.

evan's remains

As for the sound design, the sounds effects are good. I particularly liked the jump sound which resembled quite a bit with that of Celeste’s. But I do feel there is room for improvement in the music. It seemed to be quite monotonous and it just sounds a bit too simplistic. I’m not asking to go all heavy metal like Doom: Eternal but could have been joyous like Celeste or catchy like Katana: zero. Though things do get slightly better by the time of reaching the epilogue.

As for the performance, any 20-year-old Intel potato can run this thing at a playable frame-rate. Enough said.


evan's remains

Evan’s Remains is a strong debutant. Its de-emphasized jump mechanics pave way for simpler controls. Despite its short length, the dynamic of a part graphic novel, and part puzzler holds up well. Its puzzles are appealing for the masses as it emphasizes on thinking rather than reflexes. This whole package is backed by its beautifully realized Japanese inspired pixel art.


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