Evan’s Remains is Matias Schmied’s solo dev project published under Whitethorn Games. Nearly three years in the making, and now out on Steam and Nintendo Switch — it tells the tale of Dysis, a woman sent to a remote island to look for a boy named Evan. The pixel art is crisp and gorgeous as the island is illuminated by the noonday sun, and consequently the full moon.
As I play through the various levels, I learn more about Dysis and her quest. The puzzles themselves were innovative and the trial and error learning process really helped to cement the intuitive designs. In between these monoliths, I am treated to the gorgeous scenery of the island, and bits of the storyline. Dysis is initially assisted by Nikola, a researcher at Up-Bring Labs. They are people who sent her to the island, after a letter from Evan instructed them to send her there for an unknown purpose.
Without saying too much of the story, it reminded me of the Zero Three and Ace Attorney series, in particular the trial sections of each respective game. A couple of monoliths in, I meet Clover Emor, a young man searching for a fabled artifact. I observe as Dysis struggles to talk to the obsessively focused Clover under a pseudonym, and soon learn that he was looking for a way to stall his sister’s death from an incurable disease.
The Ace Attorney series is probably one of Capcom’s longest-running franchises. It married my love of quirky and handsome anime men (looking at you Edgeworth) with a choose your own adventure story that borders on the absurd. Yet, its absurdity isn’t always so chaotic, and the beauty of its hidden messages shines in those moments.
Soon, Clover and I banded together to decipher the monoliths, which each carry a specific meaning. Two heads are better than one, after all. These puzzles start out easy, but soon hit a point of difficulty, though not so that you would quit. Picking up on the functions of the various symboled platforms, became a rewarding experience after one figures how they all come together.
As Clover slowly uncovers the meaning bit by bit, another person, Andre Aertger, comes into the picture. Andre came off as the quiet nerd at first, but his terrible portrayal of an innocent boy leaves us both suspect of his true motives.
This is where the plot opened up to an interesting twist. I would advise you to experience Evan’s Remains for yourself, as spilling the beans wouldn’t do it justice. I can say I finished it in a day and had quite the existential crisis soon after. Of course, considering the series that inspired it, it was still cleverly done.
My only complaint is the inability to have multiple save slots, or to save at a particular puzzle. This would greatly help to demonstrate the game to another person or to replay a particularly fun puzzle. As the game features autosave on a single file, finishing the game takes you to the beginning again — your save slot nowhere to be found. Perhaps it was intentional on the developer’s part, but for me, this gripe does not take away from anything Evan’s Remains has to offer.
The ending can be pretty divisive, either you love it, or you hate it. For me, the commentary in the ending itself was what really sealed it for me. I tend to ruminate a lot about games with rich storylines and existential enquiries, and Evan’s Remains was no exception.
Don’t forget to swap some letters around too, okay?