Developer(s) – Snowcastle Games
Publisher(s) – Snowcastle Games & Soedesco
Director(s) – Bendik Stang & Fritz Olsen
Producer(s) – Erik Hoftun
PEGI – 12
A turn-based RPG reminiscent of classic Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest games, Earthlock is a game developed by Norwegian outlet Snowcastle Games after securing $250,000 funding amidst a successful Kickstarter campaign, and later published by Soedesco Entertainment; currently one of the most prominent publishers of indie games in, having marketed games like Tower of Guns and Teslagrad to name but a few. Whilst not lasting anywhere near as long as games in the aforementioned two major RPG series, it retains a lot of the addictive gameplay and satisfaction to be had for developing player characters, as well as a fairly intriguing story set in a wonderfully outlandish world.
Graphics – 7.5/10
The conceptual design of this game speaks to me as a combination of Final Fantasy IX and Star Wars, in that there is the element of futuristic steampunk technology, much like the classic Squaresoft game, and then there’s also the element of different alien species co-existing together, as the character Amon and his uncle Benjo scavenge together at the start of the story; reminiscent of how species exist together in the likes of Star Wars or Mass Effect. Specifically, the desert areas remind me of the planet Tatooine. Though it may not stand out greatly on a technical level, the conceptual design certainly makes up for that.
Gameplay – 8.5/10
Earthlock is a story-driven turn-based RPG; the objective of which is to recruit the main characters to the party, and engage in randomly prompted battles in order to level up each character to make them as strong as possible, in turn, advancing the main story. In addition, there are also side quests and causes to revisit previous areas, as there are places with stronger monsters, which players need to become stronger over time in order to go back to and explore. Though the gameplay formula has been replicated many times before, Earthlock still gives the player a lot to play for in the time that it lasts. It also always addicting to level up characters, and gain new abilities that can be used in combat to achieve more of an edge in battle.
Controls – 10/10
The controls for these games are always very straightforward, and Earthlock is no exception. Exploration and combat are extremely easy to get to grips with, and players will not experience any unnecessary complications while playing. Seeing games like this surfacing within the indie gaming community since the start of the eighth generation has been a breath of fresh air following the unnecessary and frustrating changes made to the combat system in the Final Fantasy games since Final Fantasy XII, and the controls are a massive part of this. Earthlock is a game that gets turn-based combat right in this respect.
Lifespan – 7/10
Earthlock can take on average around 20 hours to complete, but if players are more thorough, and want to do everything possible, it can be made to last around 30 hours, and although this falls short of the average lifespan of a typical turn-based RPG, it’s still more than a reasonably long time for a game to last; especially one that was initially developed on a lower budget than the average mainstream game. To compare it to another, although the game may not have the phenomenal conceptual design of Child of Light, it still lasts a lot longer than a game in the same genre developed by a mainstream company.
Storyline – 7/10
Taking place in the fictional setting of Umbra, the story follows a young man name Amon, a scavenging adventurer, who eventually gets caught up in a huge conflict involving the Suvian Empire. The game’s plot is also quite reminiscent of that of both Final Fantasy IX and Star Wars, as many different characters from a multitude of different backgrounds form an extremely unlikely alliance to save their world from an impending threat. It’s always interesting to see these kinds of stories come together, and Earthlock, albeit to a smaller extent, tells this kind of story well.
Originality – 7/10
Though Earthlock draws a lot of inspiration from many different sources of fantasy and science fiction, as well as many classic series’ of RPGs, it still has a unique level of conceptual design that does well to make it stand out from a lot of games; most notably in its character and enemy designs. For example, in most Final Fantasy games, most, if not all of the main party, are made of humans, but in this game, almost every playable character is a member of an entirely different species, and it makes the game seem extremely diverse in that respect.
Overall, Earthlock was a very enjoyable game to play, and I would recommend it to any fan of the turn-based RPG formula. It has a massive abundance in gameplay and diversity in conceptual design, in addition to an intriguing story that does well to keep players gripped from start to finish.