Developer: North Star Digital Studios | Publisher: North Star Games || Overall: 7.5/10
Bucking the trend of “free to play collectible card games,” Evolution: The Video Game is a throwback to a simpler time of card games. Pitted against other players with the same cards and same luck of the draw as you, strategy becomes the name of the game and you’ll have to use the tools available to evolve your species into the dominant player on the board.
In an odd way, the title reminds me of diving into a cereal box and finding the new game you’ll play for the next two weeks. Though, it’s no Who Want’s To Be a Millionaire CD-ROM — it isn’t a title that invigorates the senses. While the art is good, there’s nothing really ever exciting happening on screen, and there’s definitely no Regis Philbin. I suppose this is to be expected since a title that has “The Video Game” in its actual name must have some sort of other prior adaptation to it. Originally a “The Board Game,” which I’ve never heard of before playing The Video Game, “The Board Game” seems to be popular enough to have a digital version. “The Board Game” seems to be one of those convoluted-to-set-up and convoluted-to-play games that you’ll only want to pull out once a year since it takes so damn long to take it all out of the box and put it away. So, in that sense, The Video Game is a lot more appealing for casual or quick play. Granted, it’s not as useful for Nerd Board Game Night, though.
The actual goal of the game itself is to earn as many points as you can in five rounds. Cards that are drawn can be used for multiple things, such as food in the waterhole, adding population, adding body size, or using the text on the card itself to “evolve” your species into a more formidable point-gatherer. In the end, all of the above uses serve the main goal of “earning points.” There’s several layers of strategy that can be mentioned, but there are nearly six tutorial levels to explain how it all works — it isn’t really worth getting into the weeds here. Generally, there is plenty of strategy to be had and you’ll have to be quite knowledgeable in how everything interacts with each other to excel. There is definitely a lot of thought put into the design of it all.
There are a couple of ways to play the game, either with AI or Online. To reserve your username, you’ll have to register for a North Star account rather than just using your Steam account, but you can bypass the requirement. I used “davepoobond” the first couple days I was playing, but was all of a sudden re-assigned the user name “CarniMan43.” Seems that the game bugged or something and I was unable to use my name anymore. But it could also have been because it has “poo” in it and flagged some sort of profanity filter… but who really knows. There’s also not much to note when it comes to the music, and the interesting art is mostly replications of “The Board Game’s” art.
If this sort of game is something you enjoy playing, I can see that value being there, especially at the very modest price point of $14.99. “The Board Game” starts at $30-ish, plus all of the expansions that are released. I’m assuming they will also integrate the expansions into The Video Game, so that $14.99 works as an introductory price.