Crystal Depths Studio (studio)
07 August 2017 (released)
08 November 2017
Now, I like side scrolling action games. I like them a great deal. Games such as Strider, Shadow Complex and Metroid are among my all-time favourites and I will admit I have a soft spot for the genre. I love this style of adventure game with an intense focus on action and exploration, revisiting areas with new equipment to discover secrets, new gear and loot which grants a meaning sense of progression and world building. I can't get enough of that and I was super excited for today's review. Did my ambition and excitement last?
Short answer is no and the long answer thus follows:
Evil Genome places us in the role of soldier (more like sassy cosplayer) Lachesis when she’s shot down and crash lands on a strange planet. Soon enough, Lachesis comes across Alpha, a small, floating AI that brought her back to life and soon you discover she has no memory. Hmmm this sounds like a lot of games over the last 30 years but I'll go with Destiny for now. So our main lead and AI embark on a quest to recover her memory and discover what remains of the wasteland they've landed on. The plot is forgettable, going from event to event without any real substance or impact towards the character’s development. Rather more using these events as a bland mission objective that lacks depth or meaning.
From a presentation point of view Evil Genome looks actually pretty good. The environments are highly detailed with good dynamic, texture detail and level design. The downside is with the sound design with a dull soundtrack to drain the life from the scene you’re in and the painful voice acting. It's not awful but on par with Resident Evil (1996) as character just sound so uninterested and without any investment at all. It's a shame as there's an interesting lore to the world and the story does develop from a fairly generic tale of memory loss and random exploration, to something more meaningful and engaging.
Evil Genome has all the right elements to create an engaging adventure with vast exploration and intense combat, but it all suffers due to a lack of refinement. Combat can be unbalanced at times with melee attacks having little impact while and movement is clunky and restrictive. It's a shame as the melee combat was meant to be the main essence of combat but it becomes a long, relentless grind while enemies can feel over powered with just a couple of good jabs putting you in the red.
Exploration is decent with different styles of environments to explore making the world feel more diverse and grand in scale. However the level design is very simple, feeling a little too linear even with the branching paths that break up the world. There weren’t enough elements to make exploration engaging or to give you a sense of purpose in revisiting areas. This was usually due to either many of the loot creates being rather poor in content or there lack of visual display to gain your attention. Games like Shadow Complex often make it clear when a path is blocked and colour coordinate the method of entry so you can make a mental note for later in the game. Thus making you excited to go back and collect vital loot with the right weapon or tool you just gather.
Evil Genome is a huge disappointment and something I feel with more development time could’ve been actually good. But with the underwhelming combat, uninspired level design and awful sound design, this is just one to miss. Considering that you could be playing Strider or Shadow complex.
+ Good concept
+ Nice visuals
-- Underwhelming combat and exploration
- Bad sound design (awful voice acting)
- Lacklustre level design
A Steam copy of Evil Genome was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review