I didn’t think it was possible to fall in love with a video game so fast, but lo and behold, it happened.
Evil Genome, developed by Crystal Depths studios, is a Metroidvania-styled indie game set in a post-apocalyptic world sometime after the 22nd Century. You play as heroine Lachesis after you crash in a desert wasteland and suffer from memory loss. Guided by a small intelligent ball designated Alfa, you set out on a journey to regain your memories.
Evil Genome is a nostalgia trip
The first thing I noticed as I played was the soundtrack. This took me back to the days of traversing Lut Gholein and surrounds from Diablo II. It fits perfectly with both the scorpion-infested sands and the mines below.
As you traverse the area, it’s easy to see where the game gets its ‘Metroidvania’ title from. It’s another fresh blast of nostalgia, although the spin here is that Lachesis doesn’t have Power Armour and uses swords as well as guns. But it lost most of the Metroidvania aspect of it early on, unfortunately, because it is a lot more ‘open’, I guess you could say. There was only a few times where it had that real Metroid exploration feel to it.
Backtracking is a pain but at least you get something out of it
As you fight your way through the mines and backtrack over and over again, heading from quest to quest, you learn things from notes you collect along the way, as well as pick up what appears to be junk. This junk is useful, however: not only can it heal you over time, but it can also be used to enhance your weapons and armour.
The further on you progress, the more difficult your battles. Your enemies swarm you, and it becomes harder to dodge, especially when you have them coming from all sides. Coupled with the fact there are status effects that can paralyse you, Lachesis’ health can go down fairly quickly. Your item quickslot, as it is called, can only hold one item, which is disastrous in a pinch. It’s something that has frequently gotten on my nerves and has resulted in my death a few times, especially against the insects you find in one of the later levels. I got stung a lot.
Lost in translation
Evil Genome has a few errors that make it difficult to play. Firstly, the translations. This game was originally Chinese, and while the translations in some areas are spot on, the text from the notes I collected were difficult to read at times. There was also one incident I spotted when apparently Alfa was the bad guy. That was interesting.
Why are my legs through the floor?
Secondly, there were some minor clipping issues. This didn’t affect moving around at all, but it certainly looked janky when it was a cutscene or when a boss had been finished off.
Can we just get on with the mission at hand? People are dying and you’re STILL TALKING
And while we’re on the topic of cutscenes, lastly, how long they took. This could just be impatience on my part, but during moments where serious conversations took place, they just dragged on. There were lengthy silences where there didn’t need to be lengthy silences, and there was no option to keep the conversation flowing smoothly (unless you were talking to someone optional, like in the Kandor Market).
The conversation in the image above took me ten minutes to get through only a few lines of dialogue.
But in saying these things, these didn’t take away from the experience. The battles were riveting, with ample opportunity to get better at combination moves due to the monsters respawning every time you get far enough away from the area. This allows you to keep earning experience whenever you have to backtrack. And you have to do that a lot.
And the scenery is spectacular. It’s beautifully rendered for an indie game, complemented by the music. The music reminds me of Diablo II in the beginning but moves onto something I’d expect from Metroid or Star Fox, even. It appeals to my nostalgia and makes me want more. The scenery, especially on Highway 1, reminds me of the times I’ve watched my sister play Fallout 4.
Let me just bounce out of the way here…
The dodge mechanic is unique (compared to the games I’ve played): you can only dodge when a little blue bar – under your health bar – is glowing. On keyboard, you dodge left with Q, and right with E, which means you don’t have to worry about making sure you’re moving left or right in a high-stress moment.
Traps, combos, and new skills
In regards to Lachesis, you can build her up to fight as you want. There’s a Skill Tree reminiscent of Death’s from Darksiders II. There are three distinct branches: red, blue, and green. The red branch is your hand-to-hand/sword combinations. The green branch is trap-related. And the blue branch is all about your gun. I tried to keep my character fairly well-rounded to get the best experience, although it really depends what you’re interested in. Some of the skills also have a passive effect that comes with it, with most boosting the damage you do in certain combos or adding on status effects.
Finally, the story of Evil Genome is mysterious and gripping. I didn’t manage to complete it but what I played made me want to go explore everything and search for every single little detail. The more I learnt about Lachesis and the Grey Rifling, the more I wanted.
So what’s my verdict?
All up, despite the flaws, Evil Genome is an incredible indie game that deserves love and attention. If you’re a fan of epic post-apocalypse science fiction, you should certainly give Lachesis and Alfa your time.
- THE GOOD
- Beautiful scenery
- Complementary music
- A great storyline
- THE BAD
- Controls can be a little clunky
- Conversations take forever
- Cutscenes can be a little jarring
A great indie game that gives a new shine to the post-apocalyptic style.