Game Review - Evolution

It’s a long time coming, but here’s the review of Evolution 2nd Edition.  Those of you who listen to the podcast know that after I bought this game at GenCon, I’ve been in love with it.  We’ve used it for a ton of examples for art and how to market a game.  So without further ado, let’s talk about Evolution!

The Story

I want to start the review by saying how I came to learn about Evolution.  I had no idea it existed before GenCon.  I was walking the floor when I happened to round a corner and see this image blown up on an enormous banner 50 feet above the floor.

Needless to say, I bought it without a second thought and the first thing I did when I got home was drag Billy and our roommate Ryan out into the living room to test it out.  Right from the get-go, I liked it.  It’s survival of the fittest, or rather, survival of the strategist.  You are creating a creature based around traits that you’re playing from your hand, trying to keep your population balanced.  This ends up being a tricky feat because while you’re trying to boost your numbers (safety in numbers, right?)  you are trying to feed your whole population with a food supply that varies greatly from game to game.

Another aspect of the game that I think increases the playability is the fact that you aren’t stuck to your first creature.  In fact, a very normal aspect of the game is seeing each of your species go extinct and moving on to the next one, developing your strategy based on what the other players are doing.

The Good

  • This game has art.  In other words, it’s not your typical illustration.  It’s outstanding.  Come on, I bought the game based on art alone, hoping it would be a good game.
  • The gameplay is accessible.  It isn’t so overly complicated that newbies can’t get into it, while at the same time, there’s a remarkable amount of strategy to it.  The difficulty essentially scales with the skill of those playing it.

The Bad

  • It really seems like you’ve got to go for the carnivore or risk being left behind.  Many times, there comes a point in the game where the carnivore gains the upper hand and snowballs in power until you have no chance of coming back.  You have to hope that you had enough points in the early game to offset the pain in the late game.
  • The core game only has so many traits.  While the game is billed as having over 12,000 different possible species, the traits don’t often interact with each other.  Certainly there are traits that stack well, but no specific combos, so it really doesn’t feel like 12,000 different species.  It feels like herbivores and carnivores and neat things you can do to buff them.

Really, I thought the game was worth the price tag, and despite my comments above, there is a ton of replayability built in to the game, and while it doesn’t feel like 12,000 different species, there is definitely enough unique content to keep trying new strategies for many play-throughs to come.  And hey, if you’re like me and want more after you get the core game, there are some really cool expansions out there!