Any long-term reader of Geeky Hobbies will know that two of my favorite video game genres are puzzle games and platformers. I have also always been a proponent of video games that try to tell an interesting story. While I had never head of Evan’s Remains before, I was intrigued by the game as it looked like an interesting combination of puzzle platforming mechanics with a strong emphasis on story. Evan’s Remains combines fun platform puzzles with a surprisingly strong emphasis on story to create an enjoyable experience that may not be for everyone.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Matías Schmied and Whitethorn Digital for the review copy of Evan’s Remains used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.
In Evan’s Remains you play as a girl named Dysis. A few years earlier a genius named Evan suddenly went missing with no information about what happened to him. Then suddenly a letter arrives from Evan saying that he is on uninhabited island. You are tasked with finding Evan on this island. This is no normal island though as it is littered with monoliths towering into the sky. You soon discover that you aren’t alone either as you meet another traveler who is on the island for his own purposes. What will you find as you explore the island and will you be able to finally find Evan?
As for the gameplay Evan’s Remains is a puzzle platformer in every sense of the word. Throughout the game you will encounter a series of pillars that tower into the sky. In order to progress you need to reach the top of the pillar that stands in your way. This is where the platforming comes into play. There are a number of platforms that you can jump on in order to reach the top of the pillar. The platforming is pretty basic as you have just a basic single jump. There is nothing particularly unique about the platforming mechanics.
Where the game differentiates itself is with the platforms themselves. There are a number of different types of platforms that you will have to deal with. As you progress through the game new platforms are added which introduce new mechanics. To begin the game you will have platforms that disappear after you jump on them. Then there is a platform that triggers all of the visible and invisible platforms. Basically all invisible platforms become visible and vice versa. These are probably the two main types of platforms. The game includes a number of other platforms though including teleporting platforms, trampoline platforms, platforms that change the position of other platforms, and others. The puzzle element comes into the game as you have to figure out how to manipulate the platforms in order to make your way to the top of the pillar.
While Evan’s Remains is a puzzle platformer I would say that there is a much greater emphasis placed on the puzzle aspect. The platforming is really simple and not all that difficult. You may occasionally miss a jump, but that will be a rare occurrence. The game isn’t really trying to be a hard platformer as it is used as more of a supplementary mechanic. Most of the actual gameplay comes from figuring out how to manipulate the platforms to make a path to the top of the pillar. This requires planning as you figure out how each of your actions will impact the rest of the puzzle.
This is the element that really makes or breaks Evan’s Remains. I personally enjoyed the gameplay, but I could see other people not really caring for it. Basically do you think the idea of building puzzles around jumping between different platforms sounds fun? If so I think you will enjoy Evan’s Remains gameplay. I enjoyed it as I think the game utilizes the mechanics well. The mechanics themselves are really straightforward, and yet the game uses them to create fun and creative puzzles. The game creates quite a few clever puzzles where your first thought for solving the puzzle will not be right forcing you to think outside the box. You get a sense of accomplishment solving these puzzles.
The one thing that made me a little disappointed with the gameplay though is that I found the puzzles to be on the easy side. It could be that I am just really good at these type of puzzles. I didn’t really have much of an issue with any of the puzzles though. A couple puzzles took some trial and error, but I was able to solve most of the puzzles pretty quickly. Many of the puzzles I solved within a couple minutes. The most challenging puzzles took me maybe five to ten minutes. I didn’t spend more than fifteen minutes on any of the puzzles as there is a trophy/achievement for taking fifteen or more minutes on a puzzle which I didn’t unlock. Depending on how long it takes you to solve these type of puzzles your experience may differ from mine. I think most people will find the puzzles to be pretty easy though. For some people this will be seen as a positive. It means that the puzzles don’t become frustrating which fits with the laid back feeling of the game. On the other hand I was a little disappointed that the puzzles weren’t a little more challenging.
So far I have left out a big element of Evan’s Remains which is its story. Unlike many video games the story does not take a back seat to the gameplay. In fact the amount of time spent on the story is on par with that spent with the gameplay. There is a pretty good chance that I spent more time with the story sections than with the gameplay sections. Basically the gameplay consists of solving one to three puzzles and then a story section will come up. Some of these are brief while others are pretty long. The game doesn’t have any voice acting so this means that you will have to do a lot of reading in the game. For this reason I am going to warn players that the story is an important part of the game. If you don’t like reading large sections of text or don’t care for video game stories in general, Evan’s Remains might not be for you. The game gives you the option to skip the dialog sections, but you will be missing out on a large section of the game.
Since the story is a major element of the game, is it any good? For the most part I would say yes. To avoid spoilers I am not going to dive into details. The story has some sci-fi elements but has a lot of drama elements as well. The story takes quite a few turns many of which were unexpected. I was genuinely intrigued by the story and I wanted to see where it would end up. At times the story does drag a little long as there are sections where there is a lot of dialog. For the most part though I thought the story was quite good. If you think the story’s premise sounds interesting and you generally like video game stories, I would expect you to enjoy it. Those that don’t really care for video game stories though may be a little disappointed as it leads to some pretty large breaks in the gameplay.
I would say that the biggest issue that I had with Evan’s Remains is the fact that the game is on the shorter side. I can’t give you a definitive length as the PlayStation 4 doesn’t make it easy to keep track of how long you have played a game. My educated guess would probably be that it took me around 2.5-4 hours to complete the game. The game has a total of 25-30 puzzles to solve. Most of these took just a couple minutes. The hardest puzzles maybe took ten minutes at max. As long as you don’t rush through the dialog you likely will spend just as much time with it as the puzzles. The game doesn’t have a lot of replay value as a second playthrough should be exactly the same as the first. After a while though I could see coming back to the game after you have forgotten most of the puzzles/the story.
At the end of the day Evan’s Remains is a mix of platforming and puzzle mechanics with a heavy emphasis on the story. Throughout the game you need to figure out how to manipulate the platforms and their various abilities to reach the top of a pillar. The platforming is pretty generic and the puzzle mechanics are straightforward. The game does a good job utilizing the mechanics though to create fun and clever puzzles. They can be on the easy side though. Evan’s Remains story is not an afterthought as you will spend around the same amount of time in sections of dialog as you do with the gameplay. This involves a lot of reading which will turn off some people. I thought the story was pretty good though as it has enough twists and turns to remain interesting until the end. Ultimately Evan’s Remains is on the shorter side, but it is an enjoyable experience.
As Evan’s Remains is half puzzle platformer and half a story game, my recommendation depends on your opinion of both elements. If you aren’t a huge fan of video game stories or don’t like puzzle platformers, I don’t think Evan’s Remains will be for you. Those that like both though should enjoy their time with the game and should consider picking it up.