You are a young evoker looking into the sudden disappearance of your father, a well-known evoker in the world of Zenith. As you search for clues surrounding your father's disappearance, you must work to strengthen your creo to protect you as you progress on your journey and face the mysterious Shadow Hive.
RPG style combat
Ability and moveset customization
Different evolutionary paths for specific monsters
A quick run of the game can take a total of 20+ hours. Grinding, hunting, and training can extend the playtime into 40+ hours.
October 9, 2015
Genre: Monster Tamer/RPG
ESRB: 9+ Infrequent/Mild Cartoon or Fantasy Violence
Price: $.99 + Optional in-game purchases
What began as a Kickstarter Campaign to create a monster tamer on iOS systems, EvoCreo has thrown its hat into the ring of monster tamer RPG’s on the go. Little was revealed about the project during development, save for its aim to become an RPG similar to Pokémon. Having EvoCreo pop up as a partner to some of the other Monster Tamers I was enjoying on my iPhone, I decided to give this little title a try. One thing I can say right off is this: their promise to be similar to Pokémon is spot on. I can tell there was a lot of time and effort put into the project, but the elephant in the room is that EvoCreo not only drew heavy inspiration from the far more successful Pokémon franchise, but in some cases they may have “borrowed” a little too much. Many of the trainer sprites are close duplicates of trainer sprites found in earlier Pokémon titles. While the game has its own touches of individuality, the Pokémon parallels are a little obvious and I found myself feeling more and more uncomfortable with every glaring reflection of the games that I have already played.
You are a young evoker (this world’s name for “trainer”) in the world of Zenith. You can choose between a male or female avatar and are introduced to the world of EvoCreo through a short dialogue-heavy introduction. Once you are free to control your character, you find out that your father, a legendary evoker, has gone missing following his investigation of a mysterious organization called The Shadow Hive, (“Not Team Rocket”). You leave your house to ask around, hoping someone in town may know some details surrounding your father’s disappearance, only to encounter a creo farmer who’s having a hard time wrangling a small group of creo (the name for the world’s monsters). The monsters take to the trainer, and of course you pick your favorite out of the three to be your starter. Rather than Poké Balls, creo are kept in devices known as “links” that send them into an alternate dimension to be held until they are called out by their evoker. When summoned, the creo appears ready to fight for their evoker.
Once you receive your first monster, you set off in search of The Shadow Hive while simultaneously growing as an evoker in an attempt to live up to your father’s legacy. Evokers spar against one another in the wild and participate in formal tournaments within established towns and cities. Once a league tournament has been conquered, the winning evoker must seek out the RAD (“Regional Area Defender” or…gym leaders) of the town, who is often hiding somewhere within its borders or on its outskirts, in order to gain a piece of the complete Zenith key that is needed to enter the Colosseum at the end of the game. This is essentially the main plot point of the game with your father’s rescue remaining a close second. The RAD’s teams are not set levels, so grinding to surpass the RAD by a few levels is not a possibility. They are programmed to match your team’s levels for a more fair competition. The RADs also tame teams of creo that match the elemental theme of their appointed towns. For example, Gravare from Carbon City specializes in earth-element creo.
Through the course of the game, you can find stone tablets providing further exposition on the world and the origin of EvoCreo (the name given to official battles) and the art of evoking. In short, a king of old discovered a way to tame the creo. Unfortunately, a rival nation learned of this art and used it to begin a devastating war that cost the lives of thousands of humans and creo alike. When the war ended, the world decided to channel the destructive desires of humanity into EvoCreo matches to avoid further conflicts. The exposition on these stone tablets is a little forced. Personally, it would have added some world depth to receive the story through the course of the game via NPC’s but that’s just me being a nitpicker.
There really is nothing spiritual within EvoCreo. If one wants to nitpick, Muerte City (…not Lavender Town) has a massive graveyard for fallen soldiers and creo with dark-type ghostly creo floating around. It’s a little dark, but there’s nothing too occult-driven about it.
Other than the mild cartoon violence, there is a single element that may push the violence a little far for younger audiences. Among the many conditions that your creo can suffer in battle, one is “bleeding.” If they are cut twice in battle, they can have the “badly bleeding” condition. The animation for bleeding is a spray of blood that grows larger if their bleeding worsens. It’s nothing too graphic, but the thought of a cute little monster bleeding to death as it fights against another monster may be a little much. Pokémon implies injury for its monsters in combat, but this took it a step up. I was honestly a little thrown off when my monsters began to outright bleed in combat.
There’s nothing to be concerned about in regards to language or crude humor.
Absolutely no drug use is mentioned. Even healing items are more similar to USB’s than potions.
Sadly, EvoCreo is a little flat in the story department. I never really got the impression of any great moral struggle or ethical questions arising, especially given that your bleeding monsters are beating on each other as an outlet for human aggression. The monsters do have loyalty bars and they perform better in battle ( as well as level up faster ) if their loyalty is high so there is an undertone of kinship with the creo that your evoker tames. The secondary plot of the evoker’s father is a charming one. You are a young, inexperienced child venturing out into a very dangerous world in order to rescue his or her lost father. It takes a good deal of courage to even begin such a journey, but this aspect is an under-tone more than something that’s directly touched on. Positive themes, in short, are really up to the player’s interpretation rather than directly addressed in the context of the game.
EvoCreo plays like a standard monster tamer game. You navigate a large world with a variety of environments, encountering monsters and trainers along your way. You have the option to capture the wild creatures via devices known as “links” and you can train your creatures to become larger, stronger versions of the base monster that you capture.
You navigate by touching one of the four directions on the lower-left screen of the touch-screen device. The “E” button at the lower right is essentially your “A” button that allows you to interact with NPC’s, over world monsters, signs, and items. Navigation is honestly a little frustrating because obstacles are a lot larger than they appear. For example, there are multiple places where a path between two trees seems to be possible, but your character cannot even get close. The invisible barriers are, at times, very confusing. Sometimes you can pass by trees; other times the top of the tree is actually an area wall. The radius around the character and obstacle sprites is a lot larger than it appears and it takes time to get used to.
Crossing the overworld allows you to encounter monsters in one of two ways: the invisible random encounter and interacting with monster sprites as they appear on the overworld. Most of the time the former happens, but there are areas like the graveyard outside of Muerte Town where the monsters appear out of thin air. And as a side note, the encounter rate in that area is insane. Every 1-3 steps, you’re running into something and there is no EvoCo center (“Pokémon Center”) to heal your monsters! Later method of encountering monsters usually happens when sprites block paths or they walk around in small areas. I actually liked this aspect because it allowed me to see what creo were available in the area and if there was one I wanted, I just had to look for its sprite walking around rather than trudging through grass for hours on end.
Along with wild creo, you can encounter other evokers waiting to test their skills against anyone who passes through their line of sight. These evokers are generally leveled to suit the expected level of the character, but once or twice I encountered evokers who were ten to FIFTY levels ahead of me. There’s no way to tell one trainer from the next, so I felt this was a little ridiculous. For example, in the city where you start out with your little lv.5 starter, there is a trainer who has a three creo team of lv.50 monsters. I had no idea, and I was defeated pretty quickly. This seemed extremely silly. These advanced evokers are peppered through the world map so when you talk to someone, make sure it’s only after you’ve saved.
Capturing creo is also pretty standard. You encounter the monsters out in the wild, you break down their HP (maybe inflict a status condition or two) and throw a link at it. The most common link has a very low success rate, so it’s worth investing in the more advanced links that you can purchase in the Evocos within the various towns and cities. Sadly, every town and city has only one or two different types of links, so you have to travel quite a bit to get the link you need to capture a specific element of creo. For example, if you see an air creo you’d like to capture (like I did in the Cave of Wonders), you’re better off if you have a link that gives you an advantage in capturing wind monsters. However, the links I needed were a few towns over. On top of that, they’re extremely expensive and currency is hard to earn in EvoCreo so I didn’t exactly have a pile of standard links to throw out. To top all that off, some monsters will flee after a few turns.
Training is where EvoCreo really defines itself as a unique game, and it’s a shame that this was the only aspect that impressed me. The monsters gain levels in battle. As they level up, they unlock moves and abilities. Each move has an assigned element (examples being fire, water, light, dark, etc.). Some monsters will evolve based on the kinds of moves that they perform in battle. As an example, Deor (my starter) has no set affinity but it can learn a move from every element in the game. I used fire a lot, but when I checked out the Wiki for the game, I realized that I wanted the wind version. So, I altered the move sets of my Deor so it included a wind move and spent about an hour using that wind move on low-level wild creo until it evolved into its wind form. There are a variety of creo that evolve in this way and it really adds another level of challenge, especially if you need a well-rounded team with a variety of elements. The biggest challenge here is exclusively using moves of the evolution that you want. Some monsters won’t learn certain elements until much higher levels, and some moves inflict a status rather than dealing direct damage.
Moves are another interesting aspect of EvoCreo. You do have a limited number of techniques, but creo do not forget moves they learned in the past, nor are you permanently stuck with the move set you have. Instead, there is a move screen where you can swap active moves with moves they learned through leveling up. This greatly adds to combat as you can specifically tailor each and every battle to your needs down to the move sets you have available. For example, if you know you are going to compete against an evoker with creo who focus on defense, you can beef up your creo with moves that add a status to help beat the opponent down regardless of their defense. Setting up a poison/burn combo will deal damage between turns, regardless of how many buffs your opponent has. Moves also break down into three categories: Elite, normal, and healing. You can only ever have one elite and one heal move attached, but you can unlock a variety of moves that take this bracket. You have three normal moves, which are the most common moves your creo can learn. Instead of PP (power points), your moves have different recharge times before they can be used. Elite moves take longer to charge than normal moves (about 2-4 turns), but they are insanely powerful. Healing moves generally take 1-3 turns to recharge whereas normal attacks take 1-2 turns to recharge. This adds another layer of strategy as more often than not, you cannot spam a single move to sweep an opponent.
Creo also have passive traits and abilities. Traits affect battle while abilities assist your evoker in the over world. Traits can have a variety of effects, like Pokémon abilities, and can be changed. For example, some traits will allow your creo to recover HP if they’re hit with an element that they share. So one of my fire creo will recover HP if they are hit with a fire-type move in combat. If I know I will not be fighting a fire-type creo evoker, I can change the trait to something that will benefit me a little more.
Abilities are wonderful. I honestly think that the system is a lot nicer than forcing the player to sacrifice a monster to use as a tool to progress. In EvoCreo, you have to fly, surf, and cross several hazards in order to progress. However, these are traits that your creo learn naturally. Of course, without the help of the wiki, I would have had no idea what abilities what creo had and which ones I needed to progress, but that’s a side note. One thing I really enjoyed was the ability to ride my monsters. It increased my travel speed and it was just a nice touch that added to the gameplay. You can often see other creo evokers on the map riding their beasts or crossing water by surfing.
You can have a maximum of five creo with you. The others you capture are sent into a PC (sound familiar?) back at the EvoCo Center. I do have to give a huge thumbs up to the game for organizing the PC boxes by type and automatically putting the creo into the appropriate boxes. I saved my OCD-ridden self some time when I learned I didn’t have to sit and name, sort, and organize boxes in this fashion. Thank you, EvoCreo.
As with other monster hunter games, you can switch your monsters out in battle to avoid losing them or to better face off against an opponent. This is especially handy if you have to grind a newly-captured creo up to level with the others. The only downside is that a creo’s level will increase VERY slowly if they are not loyal to you. It’s always a good idea to grind in a low level area until your new monster’s loyalty bar is maxed out before trying to grind in higher level areas.
Battling is, again, pretty standard. Other than the moves charging up, there’s very little to be said about their combat system that would make them stand out as unique. The monsters throw moves at one another based on what you select and they aim to knock each other out until one evoker has no creo left in their party. In EvoCreo, afflictions are far more powerful than outright attacks. You can hit an opponent with poison twice, for example, and the condition will worsen, causing more damage between turns. The creo can also suffer from up to three conditions at once, which can either be awesome or very frustrating. These conditions will carry on from battle to battle until they cure themselves or you cure them. Since currency is a little harder to obtain and prices are high, this can become very painful for progression. Buffs can also stack up- such as shell and regain -so it’s a nice balance in that regard.
The presentation in EvoCreo is really hit or miss. Visually, the game looks great for an iOS platform but the painful similarity to Pokémon in some of the sprite and monster designs makes it a little uncomfortable. The world map is so similar to Kanto from Pokemon right down to having a Pokemon graveyard, the starting city being in the exact same place, and the layout of areas being nearly identical that I can’t give EvoCreo full credit for it. That aside, the environments do look very nice and most of the monster designs are very creative and fun to look at. They even made genetically modified and (…sigh…) shiny versions of the monsters to give them some visual diversity from monster to monster. I was lucky enough to find a shiny creo early on in the game. It was a nice surprise.
The music isn’t bad, but it’s not memorable either. It has a nice soundtrack that fills the silence well enough. If you need white noise, I’d recommend finding the soundtrack on Youtube and giving it a listen. That said, there is a real lack of sound effects and that can be a little distracting at times. The monsters have no cries, the attacks have no sound effects when used, and there’s no music when an evoker spots you. The background soundtrack goes quiet while the evoker speaks to you and it’s a little jarring to transition from a peaceful world map score into the more energetic battle theme.
All in all, EvoCreo is a harmless little knock-off of a far more successful game. The creator openly acknowledges this in their wiki page, but they were more trying to improve on Pokémon rather than rip it off directly. I can honestly say that I respect what EvoCreo is trying to do. It was ambitious in its own right and it’s clear that a lot of effort was put into the game and some of the mechanics. The monster build system is one I would honestly love to see in other games to come. I would have liked to see a more interesting story, maybe focusing on the war rather than having it serve as exposition. Instead, taking on gyms to progress through a monster league while fighting a team of monster-stealing criminals is something I’ve done a hundred times over. The things EvoCreo borrowed were, if anything, dumbed down, but the elements that they added to the monster training formula were honestly impressive.
I can’t say I would go out of the way to suggest this game, but it’s a harmless way to kill time and if anything, it’s fun to have in my pocket for a long commute.
+ Impressive sprites for a mobile game.
+ Naturally, a lot of interesting monsters to capture and train due to similarities to Pokémon.
+ Monsters can be used to travel without the need for HM's or similar mechanics.
+ Monster customization is a unique way of building your monsters for battle.
+ Interesting evolution mechanics allow for several different monsters out of the same base monster.
- It's really, really trying to be Pokémon.
- Formulaic story.
- In game purchases.
- Several glitches like the opponent's monster's sprite outright vanishing during combat.