I have a confession to make. I was never the biggest fan of Pac-Man.
The dead-ends, the repetition, the pure bloody-minded difficulty. It was always too hard-core for this gentle old soul.
Pac-Man: Championship Edition went some way to making up for that, and EVAC is like that game’s chilled-out, thoughtful cousin.
Turning the world pink
You play the part of a pink block, whose only goal is to escape the confines of the neon-drenched maze you’re in. This is achieved in true Pac-Man style – by gobbling up all of the dots (here called colours) in each level.
Making life difficult for you is the game’s answer to Pac-Man’s ghosts. Taking the form of red squares, they’re far slower and more predictable than Clyde and co, and can be outwitted or outrun much easier.
You also have a number of offensive tools at your disposal, from crushing your enemies with yellow blocks to utilising a number of potent power-ups. Some let you render the red blocks inert for a period, while the Aurora power-up is the game’s table-turning power-pill equivalent.
The basic maze-running action is great fun, and far more easy-going than Pac-Man. There’s more to it than that, though.
There are ingenious switch-puzzles to figure out, elaborate spike traps to get the measure of and alarm-triggering pads to either circumnavigate or exploit. EVAC really does pack a surprising degree of variety into its artfully sparse package.
Yet there are one or two niggles that take the shine of the game, such as a slightly iffy control system. Retro maze-runners and touchscreen controls make for uneasy bedfellows, and it occasionally frustrates when you accidentally push a block into an irretrievable position.
The other problem is the game’s length – only 24 levels long - and with the forgiving enemy design (not to mention the presence of a health bar), you won’t take too long to see everything EVAC has to offer.
Still, that doesn’t detract from what is an immensely entertaining take on the classic Pac-Man formula. Even if you’re a closet Pac-hater, check this out.