Evil Islands: Curse of the Lost Soul
They must have had a pretty hard time of it, because the best they could come up with is a 'hero' who has lost his memory, leaving the player to help him on his quest to find his identity. Not the best basis for a thrilling plot, since this has been used in so many games before, and while admittedly Planescape: Torment had this identity crisis scenario as its backbone, it did so with a lot more panache.
Something of a lame start for Evil Islands then, and the game itself feels a bit shaky too the first time you play it. It's a top-down effort, with fully zoomable and twisty rotatable camera controls (if you know what I mean) but it feels a bit clumsy in use. The landscape flies past as you struggle to get to grips with the user-unfriendly view interface. With a little practice though, you'll be navigating your hero Zak (yes he's actually called that) through the world of Gipath with consummate ease. Despite its clumsiness, you'll find the 3D camera actually comes in useful in many parts of the game, unlike in some 3D titles where it's simply there for show.
As for the game itself, there's very little in Evil Islands that will surprise seasoned role-playing veterans, either in terms of execution, or in the missions you are tasked with as you travel from one game zone to the next. The village in which you begin is home to various characters who send you on quests. Zone in to the correct part of the map and you'll be presented with a mini map denoting points of interest and telling you where to go. Make your way to the quest point, killing small creatures on the way in the usual manner (hit them with whatever weapon you find lying about and mess around with spells), carry out your task then return to the village for another quest and quite often a chat with a villager that furthers the plot.
In truth, Evil Islands is quite tedious to begin with, and many people are unlikely to get too far into the game, due to some extremely dull and repetitive quests. The storyline is totally unconvincing, a fact not lost on the characters in the game, who deliver their lines with supreme indifference and without a hint of enthusiasm. If I wasn't reviewing this game, I would have left it for dead after a couple of hours and never gone back. But, of course, I had to persevere, and eventually I found some hidden gems of gameplay.
While Evil Islands is essentially a standard role-playing game, there are several things that make it stand out from the crowd. One of them is the ability to create your own weapons and spells, often from components you find on creatures after you've killed them. Visit a craftsman in the village and a buy/sell screen will come up. Obviously, you can buy and sell things, but there are much more interesting things to do here than go shopping. At the top of the screen you'll find blueprints for weapons.
Go into the item construction kit, choose a blueprint for the weapon you want to make, add the components, click 'Construct' and hey presto you have a new weapon. You can deconstruct this weapon later and add better components to increase its power. It's a neat touch, and it makes you feel like you have a great degree of control over the weapons your characters use in the game. The same can be done with spells (you can make your own from blueprints and add various effects that dictate what the spell does in combat) and this tinkering about with various facets of the game is one of the things that gives Evil Islands a more lasting appeal than some of its contemporaries.
You can also use experience points you've gained from killing things and completing quests and increase your character's abilities on this screen. Physical attributes can be enhanced, as can magic abilities, and again in this respect, El is putting character development into your hands, as opposed to using the dated 'levelling up' system used by so many RPGs. Ultimately though, this flexibility not enough to hide the fact that at its heart Evil Islands is a simplistic RPG that adheres to traditional genre concepts and eventually becomes repetitive at later stages. By the time I reached the ice world (which appears to be quite far into the game), I felt I had seen all there was to see and done all there was to do.
Strangely, however, El is one of those games that has a mysteriously addictive quality, and I found myself coming back to it time and again for no discernible reason, even though the gameplay is far from exciting. Approach this game with low expectations and you may well find yourself hooked after a few hours play. Just don't expect anything revolutionary.
Download Evil Islands: Curse of the Lost Soul
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features:Single game mode