EARTHLOCK – Review
Follow Genre: Adventure, RPG, Strategy
Developer: Snowcastle Games
Publisher: Snowcastle Games
Platform: PC, Switch, PS4, Xbox One
Tested on: PC

EARTHLOCK – Review

Site Score
8.0
Good: Story arcs come together, 6 playable characters, JRPG influenced, crafting system, controller support, charming graphics
Bad: Uncreative storyline, unlocking tutorials after hours of gameplay, repetitive combat sound
User Score
9.0
(3 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (3 votes cast)

Some of you may remember the name Earthlock by its subtitle, Festival of Magic, a game that was discontinued by the developers due to its lack of storyline and other important features. In its place, a new and remastered game by the very same developers arose under the name of EARTHLOCK. The question that remains now is whether EARTHLOCK is a worthy extended edition of its predecessor.

earthlock

Story

There are two protagonists in EARTHLOCK with two separate backgrounds that eventually come together. The first being Ivory “Ive” Lavender, the daughter of the general of the House of The Great Wave, a status that does not sit well with her. A great desire to prove her worth pushes her towards acts of rebellion, which in turn will result in the greatest adventure of her lifetime. The second protagonist is Amon Barros, a young orphaned desert scavenger who was brought up by his uncle.

We learn the story of both protagonists separately in the form of a tutorial, before focusing on Amon Barros, the main protagonist of the storyline. Wanting to help a traveller, he starts a journey that turns into a massive adventure during which he meets Ive, and their story arcs collide. In a certain sense, the story is quite predictable and uncreative but it’s a story one can build upon.

Graphics

Visually the game has an adorable vibe with a cartoonish and vibrant art style combined with several different sceneries, ranging from lush wildlands to scorched deserts to icy darkness. EARTHLOCK is by no means a visual masterpiece, but the art style is charming and contains just enough details in the right places to be enjoyable. The animations are smooth, but they do become repetitive after several hours of gameplay.

earthlock scr02

Sound

A rather delightful aspect of the game is the instrumental soundtrack that sets forth specific emotions the protagonists would have in the situations they find themselves in; soothing relaxation and jittery tension. The ambiant sound is certainly present but not disturbing, although it can be repetitive if you use the same abilities time and time again. Regardless, the sound design is not a dominant factor in the game and the lack of voice overs only confirms this.

Gameplay

EARTHLOCK is an adventure RPG inspired by classic JRPG’s with just a hint of puzzle, a genre best played with a controller although you can also play with the traditional keyboard and mouse setting. The game does an excellent job at easing the player in but unlocking new tutorials after half a day worth of gameplay can be unsettling and unlocking the full potential of the game feels like a long grind.

earthlock scr01

The traditional JRPG turn-based combat is a key feature that is well executed, although having first strike is far too easy to gain as you need to activate combat before the enemy does. On the right side of the screen, you’ll see the rotation of turns so you can act accordingly. What is most important during the turn-based combat is that each character of the six playable characters have two stances; melee and long-range. You can switch between the stances during combat but switching in the middle of combat will punish you in that character’s turn will pass which can be a painstaking mistake during boss battles. Luckily you can switch the stances of each character when out of combat as well, so you can prepare for a boss battle if you did face a demise. The two stances also act as a specific role; melee, ranged, defender or healer.

Another important feature for strategizing your combat is that there is a decent variation of enemies, each with their own weaknesses and strengths, similar to the vulnerability of Pokémon. Knowing your enemies’ weakness beforehand allows you to prepare but it removes the difficulty level of the turn-based combat. Because the characters are placed in groups of two, you can make three groups in total once you’ve unlocked all playable characters. Knowing this, you can start anticipating fights by mixing up your group to have all roles available or to have one defender and one attacker in each group. Having at least one ranged character seems to be the best choice as airborne characters cannot be attacked by melee.

earthlock scr03

To take a breather from all that combat, which tends to become frustrating as enemies respawn once you’ve left the zone, one can venture to a secret island. Access to the island is limited as you need to warp, and the only way to warp is by gaining access to a save statue which also act as a warp-to location. Gaining access to the island unlocks a crafting system where each character has a specific craft: a blacksmith sort of shop where you can craft items; a garden where you can plant, grow and harvest your own ingredients for potions, a library and a shrine to craft active and passive talent cards. This brings us to the talent tree which is not like your typical talent tree as there are several rows of five and only a handful types of talents. A talent can be used once but you can craft multiple and have multiple cards of the same type in your tree. The only catch is that to place a talent in the tree, it must touch another already active talent so there’s not a lot of playing ground.

Lastly, the world is littered with items, but certain items can only be used or harvested by a specific character, so you’ll need to switch between characters at a regular interval. We also mentioned that the game has some of puzzles. These puzzles are colour combination puzzles and aren’t too hard to figure out but they’re a nice change in scenery.

earthlock scr04

Conclusion

Not having played the subtitle, we cannot comment on whether EARTHLOCK is a worthy extended edition, but we were surprised by its relaxing and intricate JRPG gameplay. Having six playable characters brings a unique variation of gameplay in a seemingly tame and somewhat predictable storyline, and the atmosphere is quite enjoyable. If you are a fan of JRPGs, this game is most likely something for you, as many RPG elements can be found in EARTHLOCK.

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Rating: 9.0/10 (3 votes cast)
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EARTHLOCK – Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
Drydwen
Drydwen


Hi! I'm Jess and I’m a writer, dreamer and gamer at heart since the early ages. I primarily game on PC but occasionally also on PS4 and Xbox One. I have a tiny obsession for World of Warcraft and caterpillars but you may also claim I have a devoted passion for the gaming industry in general. If you want to hit me up, find me on twitter!

2 Comments

  1. Ibuki
    Ibuki
    May 17, 2018, 12:32 am

    Love the graphics on this one

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    • Drydwen
      Drydwen
      May 20, 2018, 7:15 pm

      The graphics are charming for sure.

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