Earthlock Review: An Engaging Throwback to 90's JRPGs
Developer: Snowcastle Games
Publisher(s): Snowcastle Games, Soedesco, Cross Function
Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch (reviewed), Linux, Macintosh operating systems
Though they aren’t as relevant now, there was a time when Japanese Role Playing Games (JRPGs) ruled the gaming landscape. Sure, juggernauts like Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Pokemon, Persona, and the Tales Of series will always have a place in gaming systems but it’s fair to say that the current gaming audience isn’t as enamored with JRPGs as they once were.
So seeing developer Snowcastle Games pay tribute to these classics with Earthlock is endearing to say the least, especially if you grew up in the 90’s where Final Fantasy VII and Suikoden II were heralded as classics. Thankfully, even if you haven’t picked up a 90’s JRPG there is a lot to like about Earthlock, which manages to balance old-school JRPG gameplay with some modern twists here and there.
Earthlock’s setting is an interesting one, taking place in a time period where the Earth has stopped spinning, leaving certain parts of the planet hot or cold. The set up isn’t too surprising for those that have played these kinds of games in the past; scavenger boy tries to make ends meet, finds an interesting job, and gets caught up in a whirlwind of events that lets him meet a number of interesting characters along the way.
The gameplay is an interesting beast. As mentioned previously it’s a tribute to JRPGs, so of course, it will have a turn-based battle system. However, it utilizes the multi-button menu that was first introduced in Persona 5, which does make for a more compelling battle system. The developers also had the wherewithal to have opponents be seen on-screen, which should be a sigh of relief for those that thought the game would be too old-school.
Other interesting parts of the battle system include the bonding that takes place between two characters throughout the fight, which results in a combo attack. There’s also a stance switching system that lets characters switch battle styles, which can be really handy when facing certain foes. For example, lead character Amon can switch between a close-ranged thief stance or a long-ranged style that lets him gun down aerial opponents.
Visually, the game looks great. This is the Nintendo Switch version of the game and we can say that it performs consistently on dock and handheld mode. No matter what style players choose, they have a great-looking adventure to play.
Verdict: While not particularly original, the game is interesting enough to go through and the great visual style keeps environments interesting. Admittedly, the lack of voice acting can be a bit disappointing but it doesn’t really hurt the game, which remains fun throughout. Earthlock is a pretty fun throwback to 90’s JRPGs and a good game in its own right.
Review copy provided by Plan of Attack