Evolve
Gameplay 4
Production 3
Experience 4
Value 3

Evolve is fun, tense and atmospheric but will it grow the legs it needs to stay interesting?

Summary 3.5 Good
Gameplay 4
Production 3
Experience 3
Value 2
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Summary 3.0 Good

Evolve

What is it? An action-shooter, sci-fi multiplayer focused game where 4 hunters each with distinct abilities and equipment must work together to track and kill a monster as the monster evades the hunters while eating wildlife to evolve and grow so that it can attack its map objective or kill all the hunters.

Evolve is a great concept that comes fitted with great visuals and gameplay, thick atmosphere and one of the best feelings of hunting down an intelligent creature that we have ever experienced in a game. While it can be played alone with bots, you really only want to jump onboard if you are able to play with real people in modes that have hugely different classes working together to try and kill a monster before it buffs up and turns the tables in the worst of ways.

The classes’ characters may vary in equipment, but the core responsibilities remain the same. The more we played it the more we loved it and the different classes and characters kept us interested as we personally got better at doing our jobs while coming up with new strategies. As an example, the Trapper class (my favourite) is kitted with Mobile Arenas and Harpoon-like weapons designed to keep the monster from getting away, while the Assault lays down damage, the Support provides shielding and artillery drops and the medic heals up the group and creates weak points on the monster. Monster’s also vary hugely and actually feature some of the most urgent and tense stealth gameplay we’ve experienced in years. As the Monster, you have abilities like breathing fire or summoning electrical strikes (the 3 bundled Monsters vary greatly) and are burdened with finding the balance between running/sneaking away, and stopping to kill and feed on wildlife in order to reach your next stage of evolution. Once Stage 3, you go from hunted to hunter and the balance changes completely, but that doesn’t mean things can’t get messy when you are still in your earlier stages.

Progression is fun as you unlock abilities and new characters/monsters but bare in mind that while classes and monsters may differ, the core game is designed to be played over and over. How long that stays interesting to your and your friends is questionable, but a ton of paid DLC is planned to be added to the 12 characters and 3 monsters, with all future maps releasing free of charge. The launch content is still enough to keep your busy for a while though, and the gameplay kept us coming back for more.

[Note: Due to requests, the original short review has been edited and expanded upon to provide more gameplay detail due to the nature of the game]

Available for Xbox One, PC and Playstation 4  |  Metacritic 90%

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  • Antoine Fortuin

    Hi Nick. I read this review based on your tweet but I didn’t find enough of your experience posted in this article. Please see what I’m about to say as constructive criticism as I’m a fan of your work and I can see the effort you’re ploughing into this website.

    You seemed to play the game quite a lot but the article lacked details so it hasn’t convinced me whether it’s a good game or a bad game. I’d really have liked to hear which character you enjoyed the most and what the difference felt like between playing the hunters and the monster.

    Also, you give star ratings regarding the graphics, gameplay, etc but no explanation as to why you give those stars.

    I just find that I get your unique voice in your tweets but it somehow doesn’t make it to your articles on this website which is a shame as you have great opinions and the game review background to back it.

    Keep up the good fight!

    • Nick de Bruyne

      Hey Antoine,

      Thanks for the great feedback! I understand what you are saying and where you are coming from and to try better explain the concept with Pennyworth Reviews is that the review here is really designed to give a practical and quick “buyer’s guide” review to people who are looking for something they can either read quickly or on the go, but still get have the short piece encompass what the game is about and if its good, in the same way that one would ask a knowledgable friend “Hey, this game’s trailer looked pretty cool, can you quickly tell me if its cool or if I should buy it and whats it about?”. The idea also really runs around the fact that there are already just so many different sources that one can visit if you want to get full, long and detailed reviews (and also why we post and link to Metacritic below if people want to go and check them out in more detail). It is a shame to a degree, I understand, that more of my own personal opinions and experiences don’t make it into a concept like this, but it’s currently being done by choice and design, in order to provide a no-nonsense review that isn’t weighted too heavily by personal preferences, although I also get that it could cause some reviews to feel a little less personal to the reader.

      As for the star ratings, I have a guide for them in the FAQ page here: http://pennyworthreviews.com/dafaq/ – but sit with that issue where people might not read it there, but we also don’t want to weigh down each review with an entire star guide, so its a tricky one.

      Your feedback is still super valid and appreciated, and in just this week we have toyed with a few ideas such as doing separate follow up articles to the reviews that can spend more time picking games apart or going into detail on which classes or characters we personally like the most etc. but those are the exact things we don’t want our “buyer’s guide” to be weighed down with, so my own personal idea that current trends in reviews need to be split into two separate posts definitely seems to play into your comments.

      I’d like to hear more from you and what your thoughts are. I’m always on the lookout for ideas on what could be better.

      (If I had to be super critical of this review I would say that you are right in that it lacks some detail with regards to the nuances of the controls/gameplay, but tough when we try to keep to a specified length – perhaps we will look to go in and modify a bit)

      • Antoine Fortuin

        Hi Nick!

        I totally get it. The vibe I got from the site was that of a “check the review on your phone before you try/buy” so I really wanted clarity on the direction … which you’ve now given so that’s cool.

        A large reason I read NAG magazine is to get the South African opinion on things as the foreign reviewers have a different setup and often don’t have the same frustrations as locals and I don’t always trust that they’re unbiased.

        Over time I’ve gotten to trust what you put out. I’ll still check your website for a snapshot review but I think it would be cool if you had follow-up articles once you’ve spent more time with the game to elaborate on your full experience as I know that even with piracy running rampant everyone is still constrained by a resource which they want to spend on something worthwhile. That is … time. If someone has gone through the pains and said something is “awesome” then I’m more inclined to try it.

        I feel there is too many options on so many platforms so I generally read reviews before I jump in and spend hours on a game. I bought “Brothers” based solely on your single tweet because I could see the passion the game evoked in you.

        Thanks for taking the time to respond and I hope you continue to endeavour to put more “Nick” into this brand you’ve created. 😉

        • Nick de Bruyne

          Thanks a ton man, and some really solid views there. You are right though, I’m actually spending a lot of time taking the “Nick” out of the brand rather than putting more in because I want it to be practical and free of bias (I obviously don’t write all the reviews on here though) but you are very correct that I must also be careful to not rip out the personality.

          Ironically, I actually practically rewrote this whole review because the first draft was more about the finnicky ins and outs of the game rather than the overall vibe or experience I got from it, and i realised thats what I want to convey more than the “If you press B it does this, and if you use the map you can do that” kind of detail that I used to write so much of.

          A lot of this was born from my days as the head reviewer at Lazygamer, where I would spend hours just trying to make sure that the review contained every last bit of information, only to afterwards feel like I have created a ginormous, bloated review that contains far too much.

          • Jarrod Lane

            Hey Nick. Agree with all above. But if you going for the ask a friend vibe. Would it not make sense to have more “Nick” in the review. I tend to read specific people’s reviews that have the same taste of games as me. Otherwise it will be a case of this is great game go get it. But not a game I would enjoy. If the reviewer has the same tastes as me I am more inclined to try a game. Same way Skyrim is great but I would be bored to tears if I played it.

            Possibly look at having your tweets for that game accompany the article opposed to a straight feed?

            Hope this makes sense, writing this from the phone with limited time for a proper reply. Hence I like these shorter reviews. 🙂

          • Nick de Bruyne

            That was a pretty sweet reply for a short one off of a phone! I’ve mentioned above now as well, but its also not only me reviewing, although I do oversee and edit all the reviews, but for that purpose the entire site concept must work within that idea, not just my personal writing style or content

        • Nick de Bruyne

          Could also look at tweeting more experience based stuff on the fly from the Pennyworth Reviews Twitter account and letting the feed run on the site sidebar etc.

          • Antoine Fortuin

            That’s a great idea. I often visit this website based on a tweet you send out. With all the noise I get on Twitter the more I see you the stronger the chance I’ll click through.

    • Nick de Bruyne

      P.S: Thanks also for the kind words

    • I have to agree with Antoine. People come to read reviews for the author’s opinions on the game. Once you take the “Nick”, bias, or any other personal feelings out of it, what’s there to distinguish your review from a press release? Not much.

      I understand that with this format brevity is an overriding factor, but I guess there is a price to be paid for that kind of endeavour. I too would not be able to make a purchase decision after having read this.

      I had the benefit of trying out the Evolve technical beta. That experience wasn’t enough to lure me to this game.

      • Nick de Bruyne

        Thanks for the input man, you guys are giving me a few things to think about, but its not enough that I just do one thing or another, I need to keep the concept going but take criticism like this into account so I can build a better service. Also as I am not the only reviewer on the site it makes it all trickier and at the same time I also dont want this to necessarily become “Nicks Opinions Dot Com” but then again I guess its nice to hear that it could work.

      • Nick de Bruyne

        Oh and to answer the other thing you said, the one way it will obviously differ from a press release is that a press release won’t tell you when a game plays like a piece of crap or looks terrible LOL

  • Nick de Bruyne

    @antoinefortuin:disqus @onelargeprawn:disqus @jarrodlane:disqus I appreciate all your support and constructive criticism. I’ve updated this review specifically based on your suggestions, please let me know if that hits the mark a little better and I will take your input into consideration going forwards.

    • Antoine Fortuin

      I think you’ve added enough to give a better idea of how the game works and what the difference is in playing the characters and the monster. I’m also reading into the fact that you had no connectivity issues playing the game so that’s a huge plus as that’s been a problem with recent games I’ve played during their launch.

      Out of interest … does this game suffer from the same issues that other team games do where a player goes AFK? What happens if the guy playing the monster has to “go eat”? Or does this not really happen?

      • Nick de Bruyne

        Some folks have had some connectivity issues with each other but for my experience, matchmaking seems to work without much hassle. If someone goes AFK or leaves the game, A.I takes over from them. A.I is also replaced with real people joining in, which work out way better than the game dropping or dying

        • Antoine Fortuin

          Wow. Now that alone makes it worthwhile for me as I’m so tired of people dropping out of live games. This would have been a serious annoyance given that there is only 1 person playing the monster and that each team player is important in taking them down.

          • Nick de Bruyne

            I saw the other day that they also do this thing where if you choose to quit early you get a delay added to your ability to matchmake, so you wont be able to find a game again right away, which I think makes people just decide to finish playing rather than stare at a lobby for a while