EVO: Search for Eden takes place at the dawn of life on the planet Earth. The player is one of many different creatures created by Gaia, the daughter of Sol the Sun, as they try to survive in a hostile, competitive world. As the story progresses, it transpires that the natural course of evolution on this planet is being toyed with by an unknown force. This force has begun to alter creatures using crystals to make them stronger and more likely to dominate the emerging web of flora and fauna. While struggling to survive and evolve the player will come to understand that in order to earn their place by Gaia’s side they must solve the mystery of who is interfering with the evolution of this planets lifeforms.
The game is a fusion of side-scrolling and RPG gameplay elements. The player defeats enemies by biting, stomping, and eating them to collect EVO points which serve to fuel the character development and evolution.
Each chapter in the game proceeds to a different "age," each corresponding with a major change in the morphology of the player-character. They proceeded as follows, with the dominant "species" of the character in parentheses:
Chapter 1: The World Before Land (Fish)
In this stage, the player assumes the body of an aquatic creature and fights in order to earn the right to leave the water.
Chapter 2: Early Creatures of Land (Amphibian)
The player's creature evolves once more, growing legs and becoming an amphibious lifeform exploring dry land for the first time.
Chapter 3: Age of Dinosaurs (Dinosaur)
In this stage the player will be able to evolve into a dinosaur. There is also a chance to evolve into a bird if the player choose to jump off a cliff from the top of Mount Brave.
Chapter 4: Ice Age (Mammal)
The player is able to unlock a Human body in this era if a cat jaw and a rabbit body already have been evolved. The Ramophitecus body must also be evolved at least 2 to 3 times in order to become Human.
Chapter 5: Early Man (mammal continued, eventually human)
The player is stuck in whatever form they chose to evolve into.
The final clue to the mystery of the strange crystals is found in this chapter.
Each age contains an overworld map with several stages to be played. Previously finished levels can be revisited in order to gain more EVO points, as well as occasionally backtracking allowing for extra exposition in the story.
Evolution proceeds in two different ways over the course of the game. At the beginning of each age, the player's creature changes drastically to a new form, becoming rather weak. Over the process of each age, defeated enemies drop "meat" which can be eaten to regain health and gain EVO points. These EVO points can be spent to upgrade various parts of the body, with each part having several options to choose from. Each potential evolution has a required amount of EVO points to purchase, and is gained immediately when points are spent.
Body parts that can be evolved include:
- Hands and Feet
- Dorsal Fin
- Back of the Head
Upgrades to each of these body parts give a variety of changes to the abilities of the player, from attack damage to health and defense. Each time that a large, story-related evolution is reached, however, all minor evolutions are lost and new ones must be purchased. The evolutions do not follow any set order, allowing the player to upgrade any part of the body to deal with an immediate threat or obstacle.
Sales and critical reception
The game was not released to much fanfare, but has generally been recognized as a work of high quality and became something a cult favorite years later.
Its fusion of side-scrolling and RPG gameplay was too repetitive for some, as players who enjoy the side-scrolling genre may not have been interested in the amount of character development normally associated with an RPG. Those willing to endure the occasional grind, however, appreciate the game's unique subject matter and use of evolution as a gamplay device.