The space shooter genre has always intrigued me for its resilience to shift with the general games market. When every other shooter was shoving in half baked leveling systems it stayed without. When the entire industry began heading towards accessibility and homogenized systems and mechanics it stuck with its high barrier to entry and obtuse designs. This is exactly what makes HyperReut’s Evolvation so interesting. This is the first time, to my knowledge, that a space shooter has been given the Call of Duty formula.
Classes, loadouts, XP, and leveling to unlock weapons are all aspects of the Call of Duty formula and they are all present in Evolvation as well. This combined with what appears to be modern FPS control conventions makes this one of the most accessible space shooters out there. Honestly, with how popular this formula has become in video games recently, I’m surprised it took this long for it to be applied to space combat.
Outside of my interest in seeing HyperReut introduce the space shooter genre to a wider audience I have no fascination with this game. Its greatest strength is also its weakness as the game’s only allure is using trite game mechanics in a new setting. The six degrees of movement and open levels are an interesting gimmick but I don’t seem them having lasting appeal. I also can’t help but feel that the developers don’t have an appreciation for this genre. The campaign mentions how some of the biggest influence of this game are Unreal Tournament, Quake, and Call of Duty but fail while simultaneously lambasting some great titles that are actually about space ship combat. They specific point out that this is “not just another space game such as […] Descent” despite Descent having a similar combat focused multiplayer aspect. In fact, I would say that Evolvation is much closer to Descent than any of the FPS titles they mentioned as influential.
I want Evolvation to become a hit with a mainstream audience. Not because I find it to be a fascinating game but because I want other developers to see that the space shooter/sim genre doesn’t have to be niche. I want to see a game that sits firmly in the middle of “Call of Duty in Space” and “takes 40 real minutes of uneventful travel to reach the next planet,” something between “press left mouse to fire” and “release the fail safe, hold the safety release, and press the shoot button.”