But North Star is never willing to sit on their hands and revel in the joy of a successful app.
After a kind of bumpy beginning to the Evolution app saga, they righted the ship (adding asynchronous multiplayer really helped with that!) and have been doing some great things since then.
So when news that the standalone immediate sequel, Evolution: Climate, was coming to the Evolution app, I knew it would likely be interesting.
The game was designed by Dominic Crapuchettes, Dmitry Knorre and Sergey Machin with art by Ben Goldman, Catherine Hamilton. It was published by North Star Games in 2016, but the app version just came out earlier this month.
What does the sequel bring to the table?
Well, climate, anyway.
And a whole bunch of climate effects, along with traits that take advantage of (or just protect your species from) the climate changes.
How does that work?
Let’s take a look.
(Note: you can click on each picture for a larger size)
I haven’t really talked about the Evolution game before, though Oceans does have some similar mechanisms.
In Evolution (as well as Climate), you are trying to gain and store as much food as possible, keeping the species you create alive in the process.
Each player starts with one species and is dealt a hand of cards and then they will secretly choose one of them to add food to the Watering Hole (where all of the species come to eat, unless they’re predators in which case they are after the ones who are feeding there!).
Then, in turn order, players will play as many of their cards as they wish. They can create a new species with a card or they can add that specific trait to an already-created species (Migratory above would give the species the Migratory trait).
Traits are face-down until all players have gone so you don’t know what your opponents are playing.
They can also add either body size or population to the species.
Adding population will make the species require more food during the feeding phase, but it will also get you more points because each population will eat one food that you can store.
Adding body size makes it harder for predators to attack you for food, killing one of your population.
After each player is done playing cards, IT’S FEEDING TIME!!!!
The face-down cards are revealed and the total amount of food on the cards is added to the Watering Hole.
Then, a new Climate thing occurs.
The climate will change also based on those food cards that are played. So when you play the card face down, not only are you choosing how much food you want added (or subtracted) to the Watering Hole, but you are also choosing whether it’s going to get colder or hotter.
Each card has either sun or snowflake symbols on them (Burrowing has 1 snowflake).
When all of the food cards are revealed, the snowflakes and suns are calculated and whichever is the highest, the climate will shift one space in that direction.
There will also be food gain/loss depending on where the climate marker ends up.
If it gets too far to either extreme, players will start losing population, unless they have traits that prevent it.
Event cards can also be out. There will always be one Hot Side event card and one Cold Side event card. They are placed in whatever climate area that the card says.
In the picture above, there will be a Volcanic Eruption if it reaches Freezing (which will automatically move the climate token to whatever area it says on the card) and a Wild Fire if it reaches Hot (which will kill one population of all species unless they have Burrowing and food won’t be added to the Watering Hole until after feeding).
Each player will have one of their species get one (or possibly more depending on what traits they have) food from the Watering Hole, or by attacking another species if they are predators (species with traits like this one).
Predators will kill one population from another species on the table, and get food equal to that species’ body size.
For each population that’s not fed at the end of the phase, it dies. If the last population of a species isn’t fed, then the species goes extinct.
Stored food is then taken by the player and will be points at the end of the game.
Keep doing this until all of the cards are out.
Each stored food is one point. Each species on the table is worth points based on its population. Each trait card on a surviving species is worth one point.
Then whoever has the most points is the winner!
That’s basically how both games play, with Climate adding the climate-related stuff.
Amazing, you learn two games with one review!
Is Evolution – Climate a thriving animal, reproducing like crazy and generally enjoying life? Or is it an animal totally ravaged by a predator that got a stick in its craw?
I’ve always liked Evolution (there, there’s my review of that game if you’re interested) but I think Evolution: Climate is an even better game just because of the stuff it adds.
I really like the climate effects, how you may be losing or gaining food depending on how warm or cold it gets out there, and how you can prepare for that with the traits you choose.
I also really like the new cards. Most of them have to do with the climate changes in some way, allowing you to mitigate the effects. But not all of them.
Timid above just makes it so while you are safe from predators, you don’t get to feed until everybody else has. That can be tricky late in the game!
The events add some variety and a little bit of chaos to life (but really, isn’t life chaotic anyway? That’s realism!). There are only 7 different events but since there are 30 cards (15 hot and 15 cold), that means there are multiples of each event and they get placed in different sections of the climate track.
Some of them can be quite devastating!
Evolution: Climate is definitely a fun game, but how’s the app?
You know, since that’s why you’re here?
The app is definitely vastly improved since its beginning.
I mentioned the addition of asynchronous online multiplayer above, which is always good. There were also some notification issues on iOS, but I think those have been fixed as well.
The game is available on multiple platforms (Steam, iOS, Android, Nintendo Switch) and has cross-platform play, which is also always nice! If you own the app on Switch or Steam, you can download the mobile versions for free.
Sadly, it doesn’t work the other way around.
The tutorial is nicely done and explains the game very well. I had only played Evolution once on the table and that was many years ago. The tutorial made perfect sense, and the new one for Climate definitely works.
Granted, there’s not a whole lot of extra stuff to explain with Climate, but it’s still possible to mess it up!
The user interface is pretty good. Up in the top right it will tell you where the climate marker is currently. You can tap on the “sun” icon to bring up (or remove) the Climate track. Sometimes it just gets in the way.
It’s all laid out very well. Each species shows what traits it already has (you can only have four per species)
Just tap and hold the trait you’re not sure about and it comes up.
That also happens with your cards. Just hold the card and it blows up so you can read it.
One major annoyance, at least for me (maybe this doesn’t happen for everybody?) is that when I open the app, it automatically takes you to the Explore Campaign page instead of the main menu. You have to actually back out of this page to get to the menu to let you set up other games.
Again, this may just be me. Maybe I started the first campaign mission and didn’t finish it? I don’t remember!
(Note, this campaign doesn’t appear to be part of Climate so it’s more of a general app thing).
Which brings us to one of other part of the app.
It’s all one and the same! You don’t have to click on different icons to get basic Evolution or Evolution: Climate. No, you just go into the Evolution app and then choose whether you want to play Climate or the regular game.
If you already own the original Evolution app, you can upgrade to include Climate for $6.99. If you don’t have either, the entire bundle is only $9.99.
That’s not a bad deal.
I mentioned above the owners of the Switch or Steam version can get the mobile version for free. It would be nice to have the reverse happen. Apps like Star Realms are able to do the “buy it once, play it anywhere” format.
I get it, though. App companies can charge more for Steam/Switch. The reasons are often debated and personally I think it boils down to the fact that users of those platforms are more used to paying more for premium apps. Mobile users seem to treat any premium game priced more than $10 the same as a vampire regards Aunt Edna who seems love her garlic bread just a little too much.
It’s still disappointing.
Anyway, no matter where you buy it or how, Evolution and Evolution: Climate are really good games and make a nice bundle of an app.
I highly recommend them.
You can download the app on Steam, Nintendo Switch, iOS and Android.
(Many thanks to North Star Games for providing me with the Evolution: Climate upgrade. I did buy the original Evolution app myself, though)