Book Review: The Art of Evolve

The Art of Evolve
Publisher: Insight Editions
Release Date: 02/10/2015
Page Count: 192
Cost: $39.99
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I’ve never actually played Evolve. I had gotten into the Alpha, but I could never find any games to join. Then, once the Beta released, my interest had already faded. And now that the game is out, I care even less. That being said, I can appreciate art for what it is rather than what it is from. Plus, when one considers the gruesome detail that went into the Left 4 Dead games, I got the feeling that there would be a lot to like in The Art of Evolve. I was right.

After some opening shots of scenery and a monster battle, we’re given an introduction by the staff (though it doesn’t seem to be attributed to anyone specific). It goes into detail about the challenges of conceptualizing this world compared to the more “realistic” games they had done in the past, and about how pre-production lasted way longer than intended. Honestly, this little bit of insight was enough to reignite my interest in the game and works as a great lead-in to the pages that follow.

The first chapter presents some of the earliest concept work, including monsters that are in their first iterations. There are a few storyboard segments thrown in too, which when taken together make up a neat mini-comic of sorts. This section has a nice lead-in that talks about the inspirations that went into these designs, and many of the pages have commentary of their own. Already, this book has addressed many of the things I like to see in art collections such as this, so we’re on the right track.

Chapter two is all about the environments. It is explained that Evolve was originally conceived to have multiple worlds, though this conflicted with other aspects of the game, so they instead molded it into one world with several environments. I can see why. This chapter is huge, full of not only diverse landscapes, but the earliest versions of those particular areas. From lava filled mountains to frozen fields, these images at least convey a wealth of potential for exploration which would be nuts to be converted into planets of their own.

Next up are the creatures. More specifically, the local wildlife that inhabits the vast landscapes described above. These pages cover the inspirations for these critters, and their need to exist not only as sustenance for the larger monsters, but also an additional threat for the hunters. And speaking of the hunters, those are chronicled in the following segment. Each class has an assortment of different characters you can choose from (which I didn’t know), and they are all covered in a good amount of detail. Their weapons of choice, equipment and abilities are described, plus you get a few pieces of concept art for each one. Following that, you can get a close-up look at much of their arsenal.

The fifth chapter is simply named LocoTech, and refers to the man made structures on the planet Shear and the technology used to navigate it. The content is quite similar to the landscape segment, though you do get images of vehicles and such mixed in. Chapter six concludes things on arguably the most important note of all: the monsters. You get a ton of art not only depicting conceptual aspects of each beast, but also scenes of them squaring off with the hunters. Again, it’s hard for me to appreciate the context when I haven’t yet experienced the game, but it looks pretty damn good for what it is.

It’s easy to dismiss a game that you haven’t played or don’t have interest in playing the near future. Especially when all you’re exposed to is PR banter and marketing speak. When you’re able to look past all of that and get someone’s base idea in its earliest form and the passion that goes into making it come to life, you get far more out of it than a banner ad can possibly convey to you. While The Art of Evolve is still very much a book for fans, it at least has the distinction of making me more interested in the source material than anything else to date. Plus, at 192 pages, this hardcover beast is just a pleasure to look at.



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