Earthlock: Festival of Magic is a throwback to the days of turn based JRPG titles. Originally released on PC after a successful crowd funding attempt, and later released on Xbox One, the game has now made it’s way to the home of turn based JRPG’s, the PlaySation!
The story kicks off with the main protagonist Amon, a young explorer and scavenger that becomes embroiled in a large feud involving the ruling Suvian empire. The story takes place in the world of Umbra, a planet that has stopped spinning due to past historic events; said events have left the planet with extreme weather in places, stripping the planet of modern technology. It’s somewhat reminiscent of Final Fantasy X’s Spira, a world scattered with remnants of a world that was far more advanced.
Game play is a throwback to the 90s era of turn based JRPG’s. Players and enemies take it in turns to attack one another using a mix of physical and magic based attacks, there’s also a good array of stat buffs chucked in as well. The battles are a little bit tedious for my liking, the no frills battle style seems flat compared to the likes of Paper Mario or South Park The Stick Of Truth – two games series’ that effectively managed to mix up the genre. This isn’t to say that Earthlock does combat badly; for those craving a turn based JRPG experience, this is likely going to tick the right buttons.
Characters have two different types of stances they can switch between, with most characters they are a way of swapping between ranged and close attacks. The ranged attacks consume ammo, of which is recouped outside of battles (more on that later). Characters build relationships with one another, these come with statistic bonuses and a more powerful version of their attacks – it’s a system that’s quite similar to the overdrive attacks seen in many Final Fantasy games.
Much like the genre it is inspired by, Earthlock features an over world map, populated by more intricate separate areas. Monsters freely roam the world, rather than a random battle system; players can pick and choose their battles, but the more enemies there are, the higher the experience multiplier will be.
Graphically, Earthlock is impressive. Colours are vibrant and the characters are dynamic. Developers have correctly captured the JRPG genres cartoonish tendency. My biggest issue is with how poorly it runs on PS4, the frames drop quite regularly and it can have sustained periods of chugging – something I wouldn’t expect to see on a turn based JRPG, playing through a PlayStation 4.
The characters do look dynamic and animated, but the writing doesn’t do them justice. Conversations feel flat, often missing the mark for a game that has no voice acting. This is so important for a game that is so focused on narrative, something the developers have managed to fall flat on.
One of the most interesting features in Earthlock: Festival Of Magic is the addition of a hub area that players can warp back to from any save point. This area slowly grows as players meet people throughout the world, giving players access to new shops. There’s also a gardening mini-game that involves planting seeds and keeping them adequately watered. This gives players access to the materials that help create potions and ammo for the in-game weapons. It’s a nice twist in a game that borrows so heavily from a classic genre.
Earthlock: Festival Of Magic is a title that bets heavily on the nostalgia of its players. Those without the JRPG itch are likely to find any fun here, and due to a less than imagining story, so will most of the audience this game is targeting. Fortunately, an interesting combat system and an original hub world idea help keep the game interesting to begin with, but the novelty wears thin quickly.
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