21/11/2017

☆ Review: Evil Genome "A Metroidvania-esque journey across a planet ripped apart by war…You may want to bring a guidebook, though" ☆ #GameDev #IndieGame

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Evil Genome - PC

Evil Genome is Metroidvania style video game from Crystal Depths Studios, whilst a solid and enjoyable futuristic action/adventure with RPG elements, it is let down by a woeful translation that could, for some be a deal-breaker.

(for me it was the only aspect of the game that stopped this from being an ‘ice cool’ recommended purchase, the Games Freezer seal of approval)


I’ve mentioned in past reviews my love for indie gems with bad translations. 

Games like Planet Alcatraz, Hart Truck: Apocalypse Boiling Point, White Gold, Precursors (well, anything by Deep Shadows, really) the list goes on. 

In these games, it is often the case that enjoyable gameplay is marred by terrible dialogue and voice-acting. 

This is the case with Evil Genome.

First the good stuff:
The story begins with a cutscene in which the heroine of the game, Lachesis, crashes on a planet and wakes up with no memory. Her only ally is a floating metallic orb called ‘Alfa’ who acts as a guide throughout her travels. 


The initial quest that starts Lachesis off on her journey is Alfa’s suggestion that she locate her ‘Memorizer’ which contains her identity and can return the memories lost in the crash and so she heads off into the desert in search of it.

 The game is presented in a 2.5D view, the graphics are well-realised and the background isn’t just for show as boss battles will constantly make use of the space when they appear on the screen. The backgrounds also successfully achieve what they should in this genre of game in that they hint at a much wider scope than is traversable. 


Quite often as I wandered through the game I noticed some nice touches in the background, abandoned wild-west style houses, huge rocky mountains etc. it is quite a pretty game to behold and the character designs are treated with a similar level of detail. As you unlock different attacks and weapons, they are also nicely represented, adding extra layers to the in-game battles that are satisfying. 

Enemies respawn, which isn’t a problem as you can use the experience points gained to level up and also if you back-track for whatever reason, you slaughter the enemies with such ease that it illustrates how far you have come since you began your journey on the planet.

The music in the game alters according to the area you are in, from ambient cave music to sweeping desert scenes and occasionally pining guitar bends and licks as you walk through markets and the occasional settlements, it adds to the overall atmosphere created by the visuals.


Evil Genome’s real strengths lie in the game-play, movement and attacks feel satisfying and you level up quite regularly, meaning that you can add different bonuses in your skill tree and exploration is heartily rewarded with new items which can be equipped or upgraded at checkpoints liberally scattered throughout the sections, these checkpoints also serve as shops and save points.




Enemies are quite varied and all have different styles of attack and the boss battles are tense and as previously mentioned, make use of the backdrops, giving a real sense of their scale and impact. I did find that sometimes a fight came down to how many health vials I had in my inventory, these can be picked up cheaply from the in-game shop and stock-piled for more full-on battles. Evil genome plays really well and has around 15-20 hours of content including the side quests so for its price you are getting a lot of value and if it weren’t for the following paragraphs, I would highly recommend that you try it unreservedly.

The not-so-good stuff:
Oh my sweet Lord….the translation from Chinese to English.

This isn’t a simple case of knee-slappingly bad voice acting, it bleeds through to all aspects of the game and at some points had me squinting in confusion at what was happening on the screen. 


As you can imagine, Evil Genome, as an adventure game with RPG elements (skill-trees, hundreds of items, books to read for background lore, clues and passwords etc.) is quite text-heavy and it is rife with awkward sentences and errors, some of which are so badly translated that I couldn’t work out what a certain upgrade would even do. 

It’s not helped by the relatively finicky skill-tree which has vague descriptions of what an unlockable ability does followed by various percentages and numbers. Whilst I eventually understood what these meant, it did take a fair old while to work out. 

Sometimes characters that you meet in the game will have background chatter that flat-out doesn’t make any sense and will be repeated every single time that you walk past them, combine this with quest dialogue that is broken and awkwardly delivered and it’s a recipe for frustration. At one point, there were so many fractured references to Gray Riflings, Scavengers, bandits and  Freedom Blood interspersed with various locations that I hadn’t visited yet that I had no idea whose side I was supposed to be on and who was the real enemy, I ended up just following the quest markers on the map until I was able to piece together what was going on (The developers should really have had the name of the location that you are currently in pop up on the screen when you enter a new place as there’s no way of easily keeping track of where you are). 

About four hours into Evil Genome, I unlocked a fast-travel portal and genuinely had no idea where any of the places were because they were just names and I only knew the locations by how they looked as I passed through them.

Skipping down the street, hand in hand with the myriad text-related translation issues is the voice acting. The two main characters, Lachesis and Alfa fare quite well but every other character in the game seems to be an amateur that had their parts recorded on low-quality microphones. 


The first non-playable character I bumped into was an old, bald miner with a huge grey beard who was voiced by an actor in his late teens / early-twenties with a very slight lisp, which is fine, but having such a distinctive voice used on several other characters in the game makes it clear how thinly spread the voice actors are. 

When I finally met the leader of the resistance, he came out with the flatly delivered line, “come with me and I’ll show you some stuff”, it hardly gets the pulse racing but can be amusing. Naturally, any attempts at actual humour fall flat due to the poor delivery and so the only laughs in the game will be AT it rather than with it.

There was one section where Alfa (who seems to be voiced by an older man with a southern accent) commented after I’d beaten a huge worm-boss, “That creates wasn’t in my database” so, not only was the text wrong in this case, but the voice actor read it out even though it clearly didn’t make sense and the word ‘creates’ was obviously meant to be ‘creature’, this isn’t a one-off, it happens fairly regularly and makes this entire aspect of the game feel sloppy and rushed, which some people such as myself can brush off as we are used to playing games with the same issue but I thought I’d focus on it so that others are aware as they may not be so forgiving in this regard.




Summary:
I thoroughly enjoyed playing Evil Genome and aside from some issues in the first couple of hours where the game would randomly load in odd places for a second or two, affecting gameplay (this seemed to stop after a while) and the aforementioned translation issues, Evil Genome is a very enjoyable game which I do recommend to fans of the genre. 


When Crystal Depths make their next game, I hope they focus more on getting a decent translation as that’s pretty much all that would stop me from highly recommending it.

P.S  - The funniest part of the game for me was when I was talking to a character who said that ‘The only places untouched by the war are the market and the barn’. To elaborate - The market is a small group of desperate people squatting in the arid desert surrounded by sad, torn cloth shelters held up by sticks and the barn is so badly damaged that it’s barely standing, missing entire walls with holes in the roof and surrounded by dead crops, I thought, Yeah, God forbid those bastions of hope should fall…..hang on…have you mixed up the word ‘untouched’ with the word ‘ravaged’?

RATING: MELTING
Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Just Falls Short Of Greatness)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)


Game Link: Steam















Review By Britt