Evolve is a small independently developed and published free client and website built for serious gamers.

Evolve is not game distribution software. It’s not set out to be a commercial program. It isn’t spammed with advertisements. It’s meant to work alongside other software. Unlike Steam, Origin, Battle.net, Uplay, or most other programs out there, you can use it to centralise your entire gaming experience. Although often confused with them, it isn’t a replacement for any of the programs listed above.

Created by Adam, Dreijer and Mamu, a small team of three, the service is updated regularly and powered by its community. The client has a host of features that let you communicate and play with friends easier than ever, as well as perform a variety of other tasks you may be interested in.

You should know that when you start using Evolve, you don’t have to start gaming from the beginning. If you’ve used XFire or Steam before, you are in medias res, or in the middle, as you can import your account’s list of games and playtimes.

This post will try to show what all of the major features of Evolve are, and how they can benefit you.

Installation


Installing the client is straight-forward although a little frustrating. You download it and run the installer, which does someof the rest for you. The stub installer is small, but will download roughly 85MB in total once it’s done. It usually takes a fairly long time to install itself and you’ll need to restart Windows during the installation (although it will continue itself after the restart, to save you time).

Even after you’ve finished this, you’ll need to install four optional extras from within the client’s preferences: Game Overlay, Party System, Voice (VoIP), Media (image/video capturing). Installing these four additional features can also make the installation process noticeably lengthier.

However once it’s all installed and configured to your liking, you’re left with an extremely powerful tool that you can use to defeat the competition.

Interface


Evolve sports a clean dark UI with a lighter silvery finish. With a recently added firefox-style universal button, you can get from any major part of the program to another within a couple of clicks. The client is extremely easy to use, with every piece going exactly where you’d expect it to be, and all functioning perfectly.

You can also get to the interface ingame by hitting your Windows key (by default), it won’t bring you back to the desktop, but instead will be replaced with an easy to use interface to use the Evolve Browser, chat with friends, and do other vital things through the client.

Parties


Evolve also offers a partying system that lets you join friends ingame with the click of a button, have a private group chat, find people to play with, and more. It features a built-in VPN, so you don’t even have to host a server or go through the hassle of port forwarding if you want your friends to join you.

One downside that Evolve’s VPN is that it’s Windows only due to the client only being for Windows, while other similar programs such as Hamachi and Tunngle also work on UNIX systems. This means that any friend you want to play with you will also need to have Evolve installed.

Stats & Tracking


While you have the client running, it will track how long you play any game on the system that are supported in its game library, so you can easily and effectively see how long you play each game for, and compare that to other Evolve users. Evolve offers many more features that give you stats on what you’re playing that can be found on both their website and through the client.

Ontop of this, you have the option to import your Steam Achievements and other statistics to your Evolve profile to show them off to your friends there. You can do the same with your XFire profile, and some other services, meaning you don’t have to start from scratch if you’re just starting to use Evolve.

Chat


The chat feature in evolve lets you add your AIM, FaceBook, Google Talk, ICQ, MSN, Raptr, Steam, XFire, XMPP, and Yahoo accounts, with Skype and others planned in the future, so you can talk to your contacts on those, as well as chatting with other Evolve members, without even having to leave your game!

Chatting is extremely easy, the community in the main public group chat is kind and talkative, and you can join in with a few clicks. You can talk in private with another individual, or even make a group chat comprised of Evolve members. You can see who’s online, if they’re playing anything, and many more things – all of which make for a great chatting experience.

Recording & Screenshots


Evolve also has built in screen recording and screenshot saving. It will save any screenshots made through it to a directory, instantly acting better than the PrintScreen button alone. You can also share them with your Evolve friends with a few easy clicks.

The same of this goes for recording, videos are saved and can be shared within clicks, unless of course you want to edit them. Video capture isn’t the highest quality, a barely noticeable amount is lost in order to keep file sizes small and performance high. In comparison with the most popular game recording tool, Fraps, in terms of quality and options, there will still be a while until Evolve catches up, but due to Evolve being free it is certainly a better choice for casual gamers.

There is also a way to easily stream directly to a Twitch.tv channel straight from the client, if you have a following or so desire.

The Little Things


Not to be forgotten are the little things that the group of three have done for the website and client. They have a quirky sense of humour and it hasn’t gone unnoticed, either. Throughout the site you’ll find slogans and phrases that’ll make you smile to yourself at the very least.

As the community is currently small, it feels very cosy and it’s easy to get to know people, and interact with the team too, something you can’t do easily with larger communities.

One thing to note, is that the overlay acts as a hook, so it doesn’t work well with some anti-hack tools such as PunkBuster or HackShield as they see it as a possible hacking tool, resulting in you being potentially kicked from some games (although not banned).

Conclusion

Evolve is a seriously powerful application that competes with several pieces of software gamers are often found using, but all in one place.

Do you use Evolve? If you want to meet and play with other AppStorm readers, you can share your username in the comments below, or join the official AppStorm group.


Summary

Evolve makes gaming more fun with tools and a social platform that works in, out, and across all your games.

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