Game: Earthlock: Festival of Magic
Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U, Microsoft Windows, Linux and Mac OS
Rating: E for Everyone 10 and older Cost: $39.99
Here at the Spring Creek Sun we like to occasionally shed light on games that may not get as much press as the Triple A releases one sees plastered over every main-stream gaming magazine and webpage, the fast, paced action and sports games that we have become so accustomed to. I often wonder what happened to the golden age of gaming, for I have fond memories of classic, turn-based RPGs, such as the early Final Fantasy games, Dragon Quest, and Phantasy Star. They were ahead of their time, transporting players to distant lands where they embarked on epic journeys and battled strange and fantastic creatures. What a time!Many of us (old enough to remember) long to return to that antiquated, slower pace—absent of the gritty, gun-toting protagonists of today’s titles. If you feel this way, don’t worry, you are not the only one. It is clear developer SnowCastle Games felt the same and have, therefore, created their own portal/homage to the RPGs of old with an updated take thanks to Earthlock: Festival of Magic.
Earthlock: Festival of Magic
The narrative primarily follows Amon Barros, a scavenger who, with the help of his non-human uncle, investigates ruins in search of valuable relics. When we meet Amon, it is clear his uncle is ill and requires the money earned from sifting through history’s dank remnants to purchase much-needed medicine. However, this medication is costly and hard to come by, so when Amon is offered a vastly improved sum for his latest plunder, he sets out on an epic adventure to aid his beloved uncle. The problem with the story is not the plot, it’s the lack of voice acting. It can feel like somewhat of a slog navigating text wall after text wall in order to progress to the next section.
Still, the gameplay is classic in every sense of the word. The battles are held in turn-based style, meaning you must select an attack, magic spell, or action for each of your party members to make before watching them get to it. This is obviously a much slower take on fights than some gamers will be accustomed to nowadays, although it is a much more strategic one as well. Each character can switch between stances, allowing for ranged or close quarters combat. This can be used alongside their own special abilities, abilities you will need to overcome the countless baddies found throughout the game. For instance, Amon can steal items and money from adversaries while his teammate, Gnart, can employ magical healing spells. There are also more devastating power moves that can be unleashed once a small meter is filled, providing additional strategy for the player to consider.
There are a plethora of locations to explore when not in combat. While traveling over great distances your hero becomes a large avatar on the map—just like in the old NES classics—and the locations them-selves are brimming with dan-gerous creatures. Don’t worry too much though. You can get the drop on those skulking nearby via pressing the correct button just in time, permitting you to make the first strike. Health can be regained by resting in beds and the progress can be saved at statues found throughout the world. I know this is retro style, but the lack of an ability to save manually dampens the experience. In an age of swift gratification through Vines and YouTube videos, few have the patience to repeat a long trek riddled with slow battles after death.
Despite Earthlock: Festival of Magic serving as a tribute to the great RPGs of old, the graphics have been updated nicely. They are not at the level of Witcher 3 by any stretch of the imagination, yet the environments are nicely detailed and the character models pop with an eye pleasing color pallet.
In Earthlock: Festival of Magic you can expect to grind levels, fight strange beasts, and befriend a ragtag group of heroes on a quest that only gets deeper and deeper. Enduring long cutscenes consisting of drawn out text walls, and the lack of a manual save feature will pull some gamers out of the experience.
Nevertheless, Earthlock: Festival of Magic is a fun and fully competent RPG that will give old-school fans a thrill.
This review is based on a Nintendo Switch review copy of Earthlock: Festival of Magic provided by the publisher.