Welcome to the world of Zenith, a wondrous place where young boys and girls capture wild pets in ball-like cages so they can have them fight using terrifying abilities. Just. Like Pokemon. EvoCreo is not quite a Pokemon clone, but it’s as close as you can get without calling it that. It’s a rip-off. The funny thing is, it’s an excellent one. In many ways, it’s better than Pokemon. Still, that doesn’t forgive the distinct lack in creativity.
The story is simple and uninspired. The protagonist, a boy or girl, has to rescue their father, explore the world, and become the champion of every Creo Arena they face. To do this, they have to train and master their Pokemon. I mean Creo. Along the way, the protagonist will make friends with and battle many other Pokemon Trainers. I mean Evokers. Get it? Evo. Creo. The story is simple and the villains of the piece are from a nefarious organization called the Shadow Hive, a carbon copy of Team Rocket. You fight at arenas instead of gyms, but they’re essentially the same. Even small details like Evokers spotting you from across a map, popping up an exclamation mark, and running over to challenge you to a battle, are ripped straight from the Pokemon playbook. Even the style of map, graphics, and battle animations look like they were picked up directly from Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire.
The only real changes made were to the battle system. And boy what changes they were! It’s still turn based and looks much like a Pokemon battle – two Creos face off and take turns wolloping each other with element-based moves. But instead of having a limited supply of each move, they function on a cooldown. This forces you to varry up your tactics, rather than just spamming your most powerful move. While Creos are element based and one element is strong against one other element and weak against one other, elements do not dominate the battle. In Pokemon, an elementally advantageous move will almost instantly kill an elementally weak Pokemon. In EvoCreo, it is much more balanced.
In fact, everything in EvoCreo is more balanced and nuanced.Status effects last shorter, are more useful, and stack upon each other. Experience is gained more quickly to eliminate tiresome grinding. Even evolutions are less drastic. A newly evolved Creo does not dominate the battlefield. In fact, evolutions are more about changing your Creo’s elemental makeup and ability distribution. Some Creos evolve when they reach a certain level, but many evolve only when their affinity for a certain type of element, improved by using moves of that element, reaches the maximum amount.
I could go further into the battle mechanics. They are varied and sometimes complicated. That creates a slight issue since they are not always explained fully, but it’s nicer to figure it out as you go than to deal with the drudgery of repeating the same battles over and over in Pokemon. But there is too much that is new and unique to the battles, much that I don’t yet understand and am excited to uncover.
The world of EvoCreo, Zenith, is large and expansive. It is just as large as many of the Pokemon games, and with the amount of secret areas to explore, it might even be larger! While you can travel linearly from town to town through forests and mountains, as your Creos level-up and evolve, they gain new abilities, some which are familiar and some which are new and clever. Swim lets you sail the oceans and waters of Zenith and teleport takes you to towns you’ve already visited. Seem familiar? Well then you get glide, which can transport you over chasms, lava surf which takes you over hot magma unburned, and tunnel and fly which take you to secret areas underground or high in the sky that are filled with tough Evokers and useful treasures.
While the idea and execution is lacking, EvoCreo is a well-made spin on the familiar Pokemon style. It could easily have stood to innovate a lot more, especially since Pokemon’s core gameplay is over a decade old and largely unchanged. Banking on nostalgia can only go so far, but some improvement is better than none, and ultimately, the folks at Ilmfinity have made a Pokemon game better than Game Freak. That’s no small feat.
Yeah, but especially if you love Pokemon.
EvoCreo rises above a Pokemon clone through innovation in battles and exploration, but everything else is rote. There’s great effort and love put into EvoCreo, but too much reverence for its Game Boy origins.