Game Review #271: EARTHLOCK (Nintendo Switch)
Updated: May 17, 2019
Reviewer: The Waffinator (Brad E)
Developer: Snowcastle Games
Publisher: Snowcastle Games
Category: Role-Playing, Strategy, Adventure
Release Date: 3.7.2019
Price (At Time of Review): $29.90 (digital) | $38.46 (physical, standard) | $121.86 (physical, collector's)
Buy EARTHLOCK from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
I am a sucker for RPG’s and once in a while you will come across a game that just fully captures you and sucks you in. It will capture you to the point where you could talk and talk and talk forever about what you love about it but at the same time you don’t want to spit out rambling nonsense and just pretty much say, “GO BUY THE GAME and thank me later”. This is one of those moments. I never recommend a purchase due to the fact that if whomever actually listens is disappointed I don’t want to feel like I let them down, but the great thing is, this game has a DEMO so I will say “go download the demo and thank me when you buy the game”.
But this doesn’t go towards everyone, but more towards the hardcore RPG players that can truly appreciate all kinds of stories and what many RPGs can offer. Am I saying that every RPG is awesome? No. What I am saying is that I believe that every RPG will fit a vast number of gamers out there and this game is one, especially if you are a fan of the Final Fantasy series and that game is EARTHLOCK from Snowcastle Games.
Review Part Deux
Actually, this is round two of this review because I had written it like a month ago and some how got lost; it must have happened when I was trying to clean some stuff off of my laptop. So, this part is new and goes with what is about to happen. There is a company, one of a few out there that makes digital games into physical games and sells limited quantities, more for those who like physical games and or just want to collect them. The one specific company I am going to mention is SUPER RARE GAMES only because they are about to sell EARTHLOCK physically through their website. There are both Standard Editions and a very beautiful Collector’s Edition. I am so happy with this game that even though I own it already I will be buying a physical copy because this game is that good and I want to be able to always have this game on my Switch shelf. I wish I could buy the Collector’s Edition, but my finances say otherwise. And this game deserves to be preserved in the physical world.
Back to EARTHLOCK. To be honest until our group was talking about this game (our reviewers) I had honestly never heard of it; I mean there’s so many games out there that it is hard to keep track. Another reviewer of ours told me it was like Final Fantasy and I was like “color me intrigued”. And because he had compared it to Final Fantasy, I was going into the game very skeptical and saying there’s no way this game can be up there with FF7. To me FF7 is not just one of the best Final Fantasy games but one of my all-time favorite RPGs. I can’t tell you how many hours I put into it on PS1, PS3, PS vita and soon Switch. Once again, I prejudged, and I was dead wrong. This game sucked me in and even though it’s all new to me (well because it is a newer game) I can’t help but feel like this game feels very familiar, like it just perfectly strikes the inner child that invested so many hours into FF (I’m just going to use FF for Final Fantasy going forward) and if this game doesn’t scream FF7 doppelgänger I don’t know what will.
I swear if I were to close my eyes during the prologue (I didn’t though because I didn’t want to miss a single moment) the music would have made me feel like I was playing FF7. I am not saying it is the exact melodies and notes but just enough to give you the great and classic 90’s RPG feeling. In fact, there are some parts (like going into a new area for the first time) that the camera angle and zooming with the title of the new area reminded me a lot of Zelda from Nintendo 64. But enough talking about how it is like the other great games of the RPG world and let’s talk some specifics that really stand out and make this game a top competitor in the RPG world.
Elements of RPG Style
First off what makes any RPG or adventure game a good game that stands out? THE STORY. If you put out any RPG game and don’t have a good story you best have near perfect graphics to keep the player too busy watching to notice that you have an awful story going. That’s not the case here, EARTHLOCK starts off with a very well-written and visually well put-together prologue that gives you the story of how the world came to be and why the world is the way it is in the game. I don’t want to give any spoilers, so I am going to skip the details. You will just have to play and see for yourself. And even though the story is the biggest part of an RPG or adventure game there are other key elements that you need to nail to make your game stand out.
Like the fact that the game is OPEN WORLD - very similar to FF7 to be exact. You have an open map that you can explore and run into enemies and then you will get to new areas that you can enter, and the new areas will open up even more. But be careful because a lot like the older games once you leave an area and then go back the enemies respawn, which can be good for grinding XP or be your downfall if the enemies are tough and you are low on supplies.
There are 6 playable characters that all bring their own abilities and elements. Even when roaming each character has an ability that you need to fully achieve everything making it so you can’t just blow through the game but need all the characters to fully explore the game and all it offers. What really stood out to me was during battles there is what they call “bonding” and once the “bond” meter is fully charged you get a super move. So, even though all the characters are different you want them to fight in sync with one another.
As you level up from gaining XP in battles your characters will gain Talent Points which you will then use to upgrade your character’s skills. Its not just the good old “oh my character leveled up they are stronger”; no, there is a whole “talent” section in which you must strategically level up your character.
Another thing that stood out is each character has two stances, which is almost like offering two versions of themselves. Like Gnart for example; in one stance he can be helping heal your party and buffing their stats, or in his second stance he’ll be partaking in the battle and be attacking. In battle certain enemies will be weaker or stronger against your characters’ different stances so you need to pay attention and strategically attack the enemy.
QUESTS! You need things to accomplish, but it’s not fun when all you have is exactly what is laid out in front of you. Instead you want options. In EARTHLOCK you have your main quests which will help you complete the game and you can find side quests throughout your journey. Some quests will be nice and simple, and some quests have multiple portions that you must clear to fully complete. All of the different quests will lead you into meeting all kinds of unique NPCs and all kinds of enemies to encounter - and of course BOSS BATTLES! In fact, this game offers so much it is honestly hard to cover everything. Not like OMG overwhelming but so well-built that it is hard to pinpoint exactly what to talk about.
One area that really stood out to me and I am really pleased with in this game are the tutorials. The tutorials in this game are so well-explained and well-detailed that not only can well-seasoned RPG players jump in the game and enjoy it but someone that has never even picked up this type of game can as well. And usually in a lot of games once you have completed the tutorial you either remember it or you are SOL. Well, not in this game. In EARTHLOCK everything goes into a master library, so at any given time you can pull up the menu and refence the tutorials which is great for people like me that must go long periods of time in between sessions and may forget some things.
And because this game is the more traditional style RPG and adventure game like those of the 90’s the overall controls are very user friendly and easy to grasp. Because it features turn-based attacks and not the newer hack’n’slash style gameplay you don’t need to learn and know all kinds of crazy combos, but you just need to learn what attack you should choose from your given options. Everything is laid out for you. As for when you’re roaming around all you really need to worry about is the menu button and the interaction buttons. Again, for an open-world RPG I don’t think the controls could be any more user friendly than they are and they’re perfect for both long-playing RPG fans and newcomers.
EARTHLOCK offers 12 different languages which is great because it can welcome players from all over the world! As for the overall graphics they are 3D and have set cameras. Depending on where you are and what you are doing, this results in different camera angles which make it easier to play since you don’t have to worry about moving the camera around yourself. If you are in a battle it has the classic sideways camera. If you are in the open world the camera almost has a bird’s eye view giving you the ability to see a lot around you. When you are in a specific area the camera follows you at a closer angle making it easy to see where you are going and what you are doing.
As for the music and the overall audio composition of the game, it does a great job of telling the story, setting the moods, and overall enhancing the gameplay through everything it does audio-wise. If you were to close your eyes and just listen while someone else was playing you would be able to tell when they are in a battle or doing something that brings joy or when something very dramatic is going on. You would be able to basically paint a picture in your head without even trying.
Usually for my wrap-ups I go on rambling and talk a few more key things that I really enjoyed from the game. But this wrap-up is going to be a little different; I am going to keep it short and simple. This game has all the key elements that make it not just a great RPG but a great adventure game, and to be honest a game that needs to be recognized. It can be up there with all the greatest RPG games that have set the standards of what a great game can be and should be. I am going to end with saying that you would be doing yourself a disservice and missing out on a great game by not adding this game to your library, even if it is just downloading the demo and giving it a try.
Buy EARTHLOCK from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
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*Review Code Provided by Snowcastle Games