I’ve been sick recently, so hardcore gaming has not been my jam these past couple of weeks. In need of a chill, thoughtful experience, I decided to finally play Evan’s Remains for Android, and I’m so glad I did.
It's a bit of an oddball game. Evan’s Remains is a mix of light environmental puzzles that are really just the vehicle to get you to the true point of the game — the emotional and engaging narrative.
This title definitely isn’t for everybody, but if you’re in the mood to lightly flex your brain without too much strain, Evan’s Remains may be for you. If that sounds boring as all get out, on the other hand, then might I recommend Tower of Fantasy instead?
In Evan’s Remains, you play as Dysis, a young girl landing on a deserted island searching for a missing boy genius named Evan Goldstein. The situation seems to be a little off from the start though, as Dysis has been sent to this island by a mysterious corporation, who helps her along the way via a hologram communicator. Why do they want to find Evan so bad? And what would a child genius be doing all alone on an uninhabited island? This is the central mystery you’ll start to unravel as Dysis embarks on her mission.
Evan’s Remains includes a little bit of platforming by virtue of the environmental puzzle designs, but at its core, it's not trying to challenge your reflexes. Instead, its goal is to challenge your ability to puzzle out paths through the island’s many monoliths, which shift and move to block your route — until you solve the puzzle, that is.
The puzzles aren’t exactly brain-busters, but I found myself mildly stumped a couple of times. The good news is that Evan’s Remains includes a skip feature on the pause menu for every puzzle, at no penalty to the player, so if you’re truly stuck and just want to play for the narrative elements, you can just hit that skip button and keep on keepin’ on.
If you’re not familiar with the visual novel format, you may not be prepared for the heavy focus on plot and dialogue that Evan’s Remains has in store. I’m not going to spoil anything here, but it’s something of an understatement to say that what you see is not exactly what you get as you progress through the game.
Wrapping all of these elements together are some lovely pixelated graphics, which are particularly gorgeous when used with the island’s vibrant backgrounds and characters’ sprite animations. The game’s excellent soundtrack backs up its themes and setting very well, featuring a mix of acoustic instruments and low, slow synths to create an experience that feels light and airy, yet tinged with sadness.
Evan’s Remains isn’t without its flaws on mobile, though, as some players have reported that the free version starts to experience major lag during the latter half of the game. Furthermore, a few folks have argued that the dialogue starts to drag and that conversations go on for way too long between puzzles as you progress further into the narrative.
I think this dissatisfaction stems from a disconnect in expectations. If you go into Evan’s Remains knowing that a hefty chunk borrows heavily from the visual novel genre, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. But if you’re expecting predominantly puzzling and platforming, you might be setting yourself up to have a bad time.
It’s probably not quite good enough to rank among the best games for Android, but Evan’s Remains manages to hold its own as a unique mystery puzzle game. Evan’s Remains is free with ads, but you can pick it up for free without ads if you’re a Play Pass subscriber. Alternatively, non-Play Pass subscribers can also choose to make a one-time in-app purchase of $4.99 to unlock the premium, ad-free version of the game. For 3+ hours of solid gameplay, that seems like a reasonable deal for a reasonably good game.
This is a mystery puzzle game about a missing boy genius and the girl tasked to find him. It's a narrative experience sure to delight fans of visual novels and light puzzling.
Download from: Google Play Store
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A lifelong gamer, Mogan has had a controller in hand since the PlayStation 1 ruled the world and Neopets seemed eternal. She loves to play new and old games alike, especially if it's something weird and charming. Puzzlers, JRPGs, adventure, and rhythm games are her favorites.