Near the end of the year, Nintendo happened to have some sweet sales, and I happened to have zero impulse control, and that’s how I got Earthlock for the Switch at half price! After that, the next couple weeks were a blur of final exams, papers, and this.
And was it worth it?
For the most part, yes!
Image from Nintendo’s sale page for Earthlock
Earthlock is a turn-based RPG set in a colorful world with a large cast of characters. Dropped into the story as Amon, the main character, retrieves an artifact with his uncle, only for his uncle to be kidnapped for mysterious reasons, the player begins to accumulate a band of heroes in their quest to find Uncle Benjo and set the rest of the world right in the process. You meet Gnart the hogsbunny (he’s adorable and scholarly and I love him), Olia the veteran warrior, Ive the competent soldier, Taika the stormdog, and PAT the ancient robot.
At any one time, you can have four of these characters in combat, and you can face up to eight enemies at a time. The more enemies you face, the more experience you gain, and the better the bonds between teammates become, unlocking new special abilities. The combat system is pretty straightforward, and allows for different styles of combat. Are you a hit ’em hard, hit ’em fast person? Or do you like buffs and blocks before you deal the final blow? Or something in between? With the exception of certain boss fights where a specific strategy is favorable, Earthlock is exceptionally flexible about how you choose to approach combat.
Obviously, the most flexible aspect is probably party composition. Though it takes time to acquire all the possible allies, it allows for a changing team, and lots of different battle bonds and their associated perks. I personally liked running Amon and Gnart together, along with Ive and Taika as my second bonded pair. It covered a lot of ground and let me use stronger abilities that were actually useful without taking away a chance from another character to deliver a strong blow.
And that said, the characters were also the biggest letdown for me, along with the story. The world Earthlock is set in is absolutely gorgeous, with a variety of interesting locales, enemies, and histories that have so much potential for deep story. However, it feels like so little is explored on that front. I never felt truly attached to any of the characters since their backstories were superficial at best, and whenever I wished for more of the world to be unfurled, I never quite got it.
Part of me wonders if I’ve been spoiled by Breath of the Wild. That’s entirely possible, since that does worldbuilding and characterization so delightfully well (and I’ve been playing it and guiding my mom through her own playthrough recently, so it’s fresh in my mind). Still, I feel like the game should have done a better job of connecting me to the characters and making me care about their quest. I was more interested in leveling up and unlocking new abilities than I was in the story resolution, which is a shame. I love a good story-based game with all my heart.
But if you can forgive a little shallowness in the lore side of things, and if you love turn-based RPGs, this might just be a game you want to try! It’s available on the Switch, PS4, XBox One, and PC right now, and the developer’s page for the game links you to purchase points, usually letting you know if the game is on sale through a certain vendor!
Have you played Earthlock before? Planning on trying it? Tell me all about it!