At the time of writing this review I’m around 15 hours into Earthlock: Festival Of Magic and I find myself with an interesting conundrum.
Do I actually like this game or not?
Now I know that that’s the sort of question that you’d expect someone who reviews games to have to answer, well, every time they review a game I suppose but it’s usually a lot more cut and dry than this.
Say, for example, I play a game I love. I can explain to you right off the bat why I feel that way and give you a myriad of reasons to back it up, same with a game I hate, but with Earthlock it’s not so simple. You see, there’s not really anything TO love or hate in this game, it’s just kind of there.
In the world of Umbra your rag-tag group of adventurers consist of a desert scavenger, a hogbunny (which is EXACTLY what you think it is), a pink haired moody lass with a big stick and a general’s daughter – According to the cover art there’s also a dog/wolf/tiger type of thing as well but I haven’t caught up with that yet.
These characters all have their own agenda’s, obviously. The desert scavenger is on a quest to find out what a mysterious artifact he’s found actually is as well as saving his friend/father figure from the evil Empire, the hogbunny is there to help him out and to make sure pink haired moody lass with a big stick embarks on a quest to help the Owl People who he works for and the general’s daughter is searching for her best friend which is the dog/wolf/tiger type of thing as well as trying to prove herself to her father.
This is achieved in the way you’d pretty much expect from any RPG, go there, kill them, get that, rinse and repeat and it’s here that the game causes me my biggest problem.
It’s bloody boring.
Don’t be mistaken, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with this game. The graphics are pretty in that 2D/3D way that RPG’s still love to use to this day, the game play itself is your standard to me, to you, one at a time turn based battle, it seems to be well written with nicely fleshed out protagonists and you can pretty much go where-ever you want within reason.
It’s just that it feels as if they didn’t have enough ideas kicking around to make a game that would last anymore than 10 hours, so they fell back on that tried and tested grind of, er, grinding to pad the thing out. For example, when I got to the second boss, the first real one after the tutorial guy, I got my ass kicked a couple of times before I realised that I needed to get a few more levels inside me before I could take him out.
So off I went about my merry way, stabbing, slashing and setting fire to whatever monsters and beasties I came across until I was at a point where I felt that I could go back and put up a decent fight.
It took, in total, about 6 hours, but as boredom had set in at this point, due to the repetitive nature of the battles and creatures I was facing, I thought sod it and went hell for leather, expecting to have a tough fight on my hands against someone who’d easily dispatched me twice before.
It took me the grand total of 6 hits to exact my revenge, 2 to kill his lackey and 4 to finish him off.
And that kind of pissed me off. Not because of the grinding, it’s an RPG, I know what to expect, but because it felt like I was forced to do it so I wouldn’t burn through the game so quickly.
And it’s a problem that seems to be buried deep within Earthlock: Festival Of Magic’s coding.
At the moment I’m up against The Goblin King, guess what he is, and the first time I faced him he beat me just as the last boss had before him, so off I’ve gone stabbing, slashing and setting fire to anything I can find in the surrounding area just so I can reach a level where I turn back up and kick him squat in the nuts.
And it’s just dull.
The battles are all the same, the enemies are all the same and it strikes me that I could be doing something much more productive with my time. I’ve just bought Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition for the PS4 after all and the new Telltale Batman drops very soon…
And as far as I’m concerned, feeling you could be playing something else is the kiss of death for any game.
So overall, I can’t in good conscience recommend that you rush out, or even stroll out, and buy this game unless you’re quite into pointless grinding and repetitive gameplay – and if you are, then there’s no hope for you – but at the same time I’m not going to say don’t buy it as it does have it’s merits too.
It is what it is and at some point I may get back to the world of Umbra just to find out what’s actually going on and why I should care, but, I have a sneaking suspicion that may not be for sometime, if at all.
Rating: 6 Hours Of Pointless And Bloody Boring Grinding To Kill Someone In A Few Hits Out Of 10.
Platform Reviewed: Xbox One
Neil Gray | @NeilGray007