Japanese developer OneorEight’s first large game, Earth’s Dawn, is a 2D action side-scroller and is a veritable success. The game first released in Japan as Earth Wars before making its way to western shores. It’s Japanese roots are clear and the game’s story is subtitled, not dubbed, over the original Japanese voice actors. When I first saw a trailer for Earth’s Dawn I was put off by the art style of the game but after spending a matter of minutes in the game the beautiful manga-based art style quickly grew on me.
Classic 2D action game elements are included in the game like crafting and a skill system and both are implemented splendidly. Playing mission after mission was a joy and the hours flew by in Earth’s Dawn. Anyone looking for a new game to really dive into should look no further.
Here’s what I liked:
Crafting – The crafting system in Earth’s Dawn is nothing revolutionary but does everything a great crafting system needs to do. Upgrades are satisfying, new weapons are fun to experiment with and loot is constantly flowing into the coffers. There isn’t much more to ask for as every aspect of the system was implemented perfectly.
Skills and replayability – The skill system gradually unlocks as missions are completed multiple times. Each side mission could unlock up to four skills over four runs and while this could quickly become tedious the gameplay of Earth’s Dawn is too much fun to let it be so. This is also quickly creates a feeling of need to play “just one more” mission. There’s a plethora of missions and after spending around 30 hours progressing through the story there was still countless hours waiting to be spent in new missions. Skill unlocks boost the standard attributes with buffs to defense, attack, etc as well as also unlocking new weapon masteries, better jumps and attributes that can be linked to specific attack. So if you’re the type of player that wants a strong first attack, then you could put multiple attack attributes into the first part of a combo. The skill system allows players to tailor their unlocks to best suit how they want to play and at any point every aspect can be redone and altered to better a specific mission or a new playstyle.
Combat – Landing a brilliant combo or mastering a gigantic boss is always satisfying in Earth’s Dawn. The combat is fast and fluid, except for status defects, and it makes every encounter enjoyable no matter how many times an enemy type has been fought. Status defects halt the fluidity of the combat, but they are so cleverly designed that it can be held against them. Getting paralyzed leads to your character becoming immobile every few seconds, getting frozen turns you into an ice block and so on. As the story progresses previous bosses that posed a challenge before become standard enemies and previous difficulties quickly become vanquished with a single slash. The game encourages experimentation with the different weapon types, and once I discovered my favorite weapon set, it was akin to light bulb going off. It’s apparent when a player becomes better with the combat as it shows in the gameplay.
Narrative – The story behind Earth’s Dawn is no award-winning writing, but it does try to contribute ever so slightly to how war affects people. It would have been nice for the writers to have a little more nuance in the story. For instance, a characters face slowly morphs into a radically new one but rather than let the reasons why be implied it’s spelled out multiple times. That being said, the story is still a fun adventure and it adds a little bit more to the world of Earth’s Dawn.
Here’s what I didn’t like:
Weird design choices – One of the most important aspects of a game is often how much fun it is and how often it can sustain a high level of fun. In Earth’s Dawn everything is wonderful until it suddenly isn’t. Every time this happens it’s because of strange decisions in design. In one section of levels a certain type of ground does constant damage to your character as long as they are in contact with it. This would be fine and actually add challenge as long as they are avoidable however there are levels where they are the only ground to stand on for the length of entire fights. This isn’t fun regardless of quickly the level can be beat. It’s choices like that that drag down an incredibly fun game but even then it’s some minor nitpicking.
I was always having fun while playing Earth’s Dawn. Every completed mission led to a feeling of progression and innate satisfaction. The combat, skills, and crafting system are all so well done that I never felt like I was just grinding and wasting my time. Every fight was enjoyable regardless of how often I had seen a specific enemy or even if it was my third time doing a mission. The game does have weird design choices but they make up such small percentage of the near overwhelming amount of game that is Earth’s Dawn that it really doesn’t matter. Every bit of the price point shines through in Earth’s Dawn and I can’t think of a person I wouldn’t want to at least try the game.
Score: Must Buy
Earth’s Dawn was developed by OneorEight and published by Rising Star Games on Xbox One. It releases on November 1, 2016 for $29.99. A copy was provided for review purposes.