I’ve been a fan of North Star Games’ Evolution games for a few years now, and Evolution: Climate was the first game I played upon introduction to my current, most prolific gaming group. Our reviewer Sara found Evolution to be a success on Switch a couple of years back, but considering how late to the party it is, how badly do you need the Climate add on?
Skipping to the end somewhat, my opinion is that if you like the base game, you need it a lot. Simply put, Climate is so key — so finely tuned — to Evolution, that it’s no surprise to me that North Star chose to release the boxed version not only as an expansion, but as a bundle with the original game, known as Evolution: Climate. As I mentioned before, this was the first version of Evolution that I ever played, and honestly, it was jarring to go back.
For those unfamiliar with the series (which also features a novice or younger version, called Evolution: The Beginning) the idea of Evolution (and Climate) is to develop a number of unique species that compete for food, which in turn equates to victory points. This is done by drawing and playing cards — with each card either creating a new species (with no traits), adding the trait shown on the card to an existing species, or increasing the population or size of an existing species.
The idea of multi-use cards is especially important in Evolution, and climate only adds to this fact. In the base game, not only are cards used to develop your own species, but at the beginning of each round, each player discards one card secretly — which will later add (or take away) food from the watering hole that all players share.
With the Climate expansion added, these cards also have the potential to increase or decrease the temperature of the planet — which is measured on a track that begins in the middle and gets hotter or colder over the rounds. New cards are also added into the master deck, allowing players to develop species that can handle the different temperatures.
For me, Climate adds just the right amount of distraction into the mix, whilst also integrating seamlessly with the base game. As I mentioned above, this expansion is so seamless that it really does not feel like an expansion — it’s more like a sizeable “director’s cut” version of the original base game.
The Nintendo Switch implementation of Climate is just as good as the original game, and it changes little or nothing really in terms of presentation. Just as in the base game, a number of tutorial style missions take players through the new features, and the whole thing is executed nicely, with pre-baked scenarios to help the player learn quickly and precisely.
Coming back to whether you should purchase this expansion or not – for me it’s a yes, as long as you liked the original. However if, for example, you ever felt that the original game felt as though it reduced the theme down to pure mathematical advantage, then I’d suggest you come back for another look.
The key difference between Evolution without Climate and with it, is that it now presents the players with the concept of being part of a larger ecosystem. Yes, their watering hole matters, but collectively drive the planet to an Ice Age — or worse, a meteor impact — and the result is catastrophic. The temperature changes force the player to protect their species from “the game” as much as the predatory species of other players, and as such, there’s just a whole new dynamic that is very enjoyable.
You can find Evolution on Nintendo Switch, with it’s Climate DLC.