A Lilly Short
“The walking simulator” – the most dreaded of pejoratives in the sphere of indie games. It’s often used to disparage low-key narrative experiences like Dear Esther and Gone Home, and to delegitimize anything that doesn’t prescribe to pre-established ideas of what a game should be. And yet, thanks to the flood of garbage on Steam, there is a swell of titles that legitimately deserve the title “walking simulator” – low-effort asset flips with nothing to say and nothing to do.
Treading the line of interesting narrative experience and listless walking sim is Evangeline, a short little game about love, loss, and ambition, and taking place on a single cul-de-sac. And when I say short, I mean it. My playthrough took a mere seventeen minutes, and that’s with me reading every little world-building note I could find.
Evangeline is all about story, so discussing the plot in too great a detail would be impossible without venturing into spoiler territory. It is, however, a surprisingly sweet tale. Tender care obviously went into the heartfelt message of this game, and somehow, those seventeen minutes I spent playing it made me feel more than the last several multi-hour, AAA romps I’ve experienced. The last few minutes actually hit me in a way I didn’t expect, and left me thinking for a few minutes. There is, however, a little bit of an AR game present that I appreciated a whole lot.
Now, is that worth eight dollars? That really depends. All you really do in this game is look at certain objects, pick up other objects, and read notes. There’s not even a whole lot of any of those things – about as much as is possible in a fifteen minute game. If you’re the type of person who wants loads of content, replayability, and doesn’t like avant-garde art, then you’re probably safe to pass. Speaking as somebody who plays literally dozens of games a month, however, I appreciate little titles like this. It speaks to how gaming can be a lot more than we often give it credit for, and how the medium can be used to tell simple, small tales that elucidate something about the human experience.
“Tender care obviously went into the heartfelt message of this game… The last few minutes actually hit me in a way I didn’t expect, and left me thinking for a few minutes.”
Evangeline is, by layman’s definition, a walking simulator. But it’s a bit more than that, and that bit more makes it a special little gem worth spending a few minutes with – especially on sale.