Adapting board games to a console can be a difficult task. North Star Digital Studios has proven it can be done.
Board game adaptations have become somewhat popular over the past decade on mobile devices. Adapting to the console world can be difficult, but North Star Games has taken the evolutionary leap. Is the Evolution board game adaptation a hit or miss? Find out in our Evolution review.
Adapt and Survive
During PAX West 2019, Guide Stash was able to get a hands-on preview of North Star Games’ Evolution. Since then, we have evolved to take on the full game.
In Evolution, players take control of a set of species. The goal of the game is to help your species evolve and grow as they face the perils of the environment and other species. Gameplay is centered around the watering hole where players feed on plants or each other. Players are dealt cards at the beginning of each round and one is used to increase or decrease the number of plants available.
Players then use cards to perform different actions like growing the population, increasing body size, and adding special traits such as turning into a predator. Players take turns eating plants from the watering hole (herbivores) or other species (carnivores). When the game ends, players will score points for the food they have eaten during the game, the population sizes of their species, and the number of cards used to give their species special abilities. The player who scores the most points wins the game. While this sounds easy, it all depends on whether you are playing against another person or AI.
Several Ways to Play
North Star Digital Studios has included several different ways to play Evolution. One of the ways Evolution can be played is through a single-player campaign that includes a tutorial. Players will complete 21 levels that involve learning different skills and ultimately applying them in the end. A lot of board game adaptations typically do not have a single-player campaign. Evolution‘s campaign is a great starting point for those still learning the ropes.
If you are wanting more of a challenge, you can play against other players online and climb up the leaderboard. Evolution also offers weekly challenges players can take part in for bragging rights. The most important feature it has is Pass and Play. This feature lets you and three others play Evolution no matter where you are. The same rules and gameplay apply, the only difference is that when one person ends a turn, you pass the Switch to the next person to play. Pass and Play offers classic board game mechanics with a modern twist.
Simple Controls, Beautiful Art
The controls for Evolution are simple to learn and take no time to master. Each button is assigned an action and if you mess up, you can undo an action with the LB button. The simplicity of the controls lets you concentrate on your next move.
One of the things that stands out in Evolution is the animations, particularly when it comes to feeding or attacking. Obviously, animations are something that a traditional board game can’t have, and North Star Digital Studios capitalized on that for the Nintendo Switch. Evolution even has an in-game sketchbook, so you can check out all the drawings of the animals.
Done Evolving for Now
While I did enjoy my time with Evolution, I found being held at the mercy of cards a little frustrating. The number of in-game traits is limited and getting the ones you want is left to chance. Defensive traits and traits that allow you to eat before others are sometimes unreliable. This speaks to the heart of any strategy game. I’m not sure how many times I’ve lost games to the AI due to not being dealt a fair hand. The only solution to this would be to increase the number of trait cards, but that would take away from having to adapt and survive. Whether any additional traits will be added to Evolution remains to be seen. Perhaps an expansion will be added at a later date to help the game continue to adapt in an ever-changing world of video games.