Why are we so fascinated by monsters? We’re afraid of them, and yet we can’t help but be excited every time we hear a great monster story or watch a fantastic creature film. Throughout most of our lives, our fascination with monsters remains. And yet, there’s one looming question that most of us always ponder – What if a really scary monster showed up, and you couldn’t hide or turn off your TV to make it go away? Evolve answers that question.
Evolve centers on a team of four players trying to bring down a hideous and scary monster. Each of the four players controls characters with different skill sets. And the monster you’re hunting isn’t a static object which you can run away from. No, the monster grows and evolves and feeds off its surroundings. Each monster can evolve up to three times, each time becoming a more horrifying and powerful version of its previous self. If you want to have an easy time, you’d be well advised to bring down the monster before it can grow a few sizes.
With that basic setup, Evolve manages to incorporate a lot of subtlety into the gameplay. One person on each team is a trapper. The trapper’s job is to guide the other team members to the monster’s location. When you’re first starting the game, Evolve lets you play as the trapper Maggie. You can eventually unlock additional trappers, with their own specialized weapons. Maggie has a trapjaw pet called Daisy which helps her find the whereabouts of the beast she is hunting. In most cases, the trapper will be the one making the decisions, so having a skilled player on this crucial character is extremely important.
What makes things even more interesting is that the monsters you will hunt aren’t dumb brutes. Often, they are very cunning and know how to hide their tracks and avoid capture until they’re ready to ambush your team or hunt you face to face. Some monsters will leave multiple sets of prints behind, making the chase even more difficult. Be prepared to spend a few tense minutes in every match trying to figure out where the object of your hunt is hiding. Using the terrain to your advantage and knowing where your prey might be hiding is critical to a successful hunt. If you’re a player who prefers a high-octane shooter, this might not be your cup of tea. But for players who enjoy a little tactical topping on their shooting desserts, this is the perfect game.
The individual hunters have interesting personality and often indulge in witty banter. Sadly, the lines tend to repeat after you’ve played the game for a while. But Evolve won’t let you worry about the dialogue for too long. Once the monster you’re hunting achieves its final stage of evolution, all hell breaks loose. The monsters will attack power generators and you will be forced to defend them in an all-out battle. But the monsters aren’t the only thing you have to contend with in this game. Throughout each level, there exist critters and other smaller beasts which aren’t exactly welcoming, to say the least. The sounds of the environment, coupled with the bone-chilling screams of the monster truly make this a spectacularly tense and satisfying experience.
The actual combat itself is entertaining and forces you to make proper use of the terrain. Vantage points, hiding spots and cover locations all play critical roles in battle. The trapper can unleash a massive dome which limits the movement of the monster, and allows you to focus fire. Just don’t expect your prey to go down without a fight. Hyde, who is the assault specialist on the team, can employ grenades which poison the monster, causing it to take damage over time. Bucket, your friendly neighborhood support robot, can deploy turrets which fire automatically.
They are glorious and deadly. There are three separate monsters in this version of the game – the stealthy Wraith, the flying Kraken, and the beastly Goliath. Goliath fights are usually more conventional, because he tends to rush you and hurl boulders at your face while breathing fire. So, yeah, pretty conventional. Until you find yourself falling off your hiding spot into unfamiliar terrain. Then, it’s a mad rush for survival. The Kraken takes to the air and spits electricity upon your team of hunters, like a vengeful god. The Kraken fights render some of your weapons ineffective due to the massive range it attacks from.
If you’re tired of playing as the hunters, you can play as the monsters too. And yes, it is as fun as it sounds. Cornering a bunch of hapless hunters and devouring their broken bodies while guffawing maniacally is always a good time. If you know which hunters to target on a team, you can have many moments of hilarity as you see the hunters scramble to protect their teammates, leading them into your waiting arms (or jaws). Playing as the Wraith is particularly fun because you can hit-and-run a hunter, leaving the others confused and scared. If you’ve ever dreamed of roleplaying as The Predator, this is your chance.
There are several game modes you can experiment with if you’re tired of the conventional Hunt mode. In Nest mode, your team of hunters must destroy a bunch of eggs before they hatch and destroy you. In Rescue mode, you have to save several people trapped around the map and guard them until they’re transported to safety. In Defend mode, Evolve turns into a mini-MOBA, requiring you to protect generators from waves of creeps. In all of these modes, playing as the monster gives you a completely unique set of objectives, thereby ensuring that players on both sides of the spectrum have fun.
Evolve is a fantastic step forward for the team based shooter. Its unique premise and diverse gameplay modes make it fun even after you’ve been hunting monsters for dozens of hours. Developers Turtle Rock Studios have promised additional maps and monsters in the future. As is the case with most shooters, Evolve really shines once you head online and take on actual human opponents. If you’re a fan of monsters, hunting, shooters or good games in general, Evolve is for you.
Game Score: 7.9 Out Of 10