As I peruse the demos currently available on the PlayStation Store, I am bombarded with a staggering number of similar looking RPGs. Typically a genre that consumes a whole lot of one’s time, RPGs are kind of a big commitment, and so it makes sense to check out the demo first in order to decide if this is a game I want to spend a lot of time with. One such RPG that stood out to me was Earthlock.
The concept behind Earthlock sounds kind of interesting. Apparently, the world has stopped spinning, meaning there is a permanent dark side, a hot, bright side, and a livable strip in between. Unfortunately, this was not something the demo really explored, though we did meet a decent cast of characters, the main ones in our team being a thief named Amon, a tough young woman named Olia, and my personal favorite, the adorable and scholarly hogbunny Gnart, who plays more of a supporting role in combat.
Speaking of combat, this game sports a rather interesting take on turn-based combat. Each character has two “stances” that you can swap between that have different abilities. For example, Olia can swap between Warrior and Veteran. With Warrior, she can use regular attacks. With Veteran, she can taunt enemies into only attacking her, and then she can retaliate with powerful counterattacks (a strategy that is very helpful during the demo’s last boss).
At first, I felt like stances were more of a nuisance than anything. Switching between them uses a turn, and I didn’t really like not having all of my moves available to me at the same time. By the end of the demo, I had grown more accustomed to stances…though looking back on my experience, I can’t say I remember there being anything particularly meaningful to the whole idea, either. I mean, I suppose it certainly adds another layer of strategy, and you could look at it as each character having two job classes or something.
That didn’t mean the combat in this game wasn’t fun, though. And at this point, turn-based combat is decades old, so I suppose changing it up is usually going to be a good thing rather than a bad one. I also appreciated the way commands were set up to allow for minimal scrolling. The characters were also charming enough, the graphics were colorful and pleasant, and there seems to be a lot to do. The demo left off with farming, of all things, which seems like a simple way of getting a lot of useful items. I also didn’t try any of the side quests, so I’m not sure what they’re like.
This was also an incredibly generous demo. By the time it ended, I had completed 21% of the game, leading me to wonder if reports of the game being 20-30 hours long is accurate. It took me just under 2 hours to get this far, meaning my math would put the game at roughly ten hours. So I’m a bit confused as far as the game length is concerned. Furthermore, with the demo already taking me through the first fifth of the game, I also wonder how much depth there will be to the characters and story.
That’s the problem. There are so many RPGs out there. Many of them turn out to be rather similar experiences, and if I’m going to spend time and money on one, I want it to stand out from the crowd. Sure, everyone knows about RPGs like Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts. But there are also lesser known ones, one of my favorites being Ni no Kuni, that are unique enough to justify spending dozens of hours on them over all the competition.
I really did enjoy my time with this game. But is Earthlock one of those stand-out RPGs? I’m not really sure. And is it worth the price tag of $29.99? No, I don’t think so. Maybe I’ll consider it if it goes on sale one day, but by then, there’s a good chance I’ll have found a different RPG that I’m more interested in.
But hey, if they handed out rewards for generous demos, Earthlock would certainly take the cake!