If you didn’t know, Earth’s Dawn is a side-scrolling, action beat em’ up that’s extremely reminiscent of a Vanillaware game — the studio behind Muramasa and Odin Sphere. Unfortunately, Earth’s Dawn falls short in many categories where those games shine.
Before I get to all the negative, I want talk about some good that Earth’s Dawn has to offer. The game uses a fun and fluent dashing mechanic that I (surprisingly) haven’t seen done this well in many games before it. It’s perfect for chaining together attacks and traversing around the grid. There’s also finishing moves that are look really cool — you can perform unique finishers on each type of enemy, which is great. Speaking of enemies, boss fights are pretty epic and a lot of fun, not to mention a real challenge to defeat the monsters. One insane missing feature is combo meter. There’s no combos! I was seriously confused at first, I’m still afraid that I’m just not seeing it. So if you do, please, let me know where it is. The game does tell you how strong your attacks are and when you get critical hits, at least.
Let’s Kill Some Things
The game features two different types of attacks, melee and shooting. I loved quickly switching back and forth between the two. However, unless you have a crazy strong gun, melee will be the main attack type, which is fine — except you’ll be hitting square a lot. This is where things start taking a turn for the worst, the gameplay is very repetitive. Basic slashing and the finishing blows I spoke of before really start to get boring. These type of issues could of been solved if there was any type of gameplay mix-up, but there isn’t. You’ll be doing to the same attacks over and over for a long time. Luckily, there’s different skills you can obtain to buff your character on the battlefield. Although I will say, I found the skill and loot systems to be a bit confusing and overwhelming, but that’s just me.
As for the story, I honestly stopped caring after a couple hours, as I’m sure you probably will too. This overall premise is cool, but wasn’t executed well — I was never engaged in the story, unfortunately. Also, in case you were wondering, all of the voice-over is in Japanese and translated into english text. The presentation of the cutscenes isn’t anything to applaud — just still images with text on screen. The is where the $30 price point starts making more sense.
While the visuals are pretty, there are only seven major types of environments, and the overall presentation isn’t great. It’s not bad by any stretch, but after being spoiled by Vanillaware games, the muddy textures and bland backgrounds are more apparent. I don’t want to sound too negative because the game’s explosions and bursting colors had me impressed more than once. One thing that bothered me particularly was how zoomed in the camera was. The whole time I was wishing I could see a bit more of the world. This also caused problems during battle because enemies are big, and so are you (if you’re playing as a guy). Combine a zoomed in camera, big characters, and lots of explosions, and you get one very crowded screen.
But Where’s My Vita Version?
While I’m here I can’t go without mentioning, where is the PS Vita version of Earth’s Dawn? This game would make a ton of sense on the go, just as Dragon’s Crown and Odin Sphere did. However, there are 3D models in the game so maybe that’s harder to get running on the Vita, I have no clue how game development works, but I can’t help but wish it was available on everyone’s favorite handheld. *wink* (Side-note: I reached out to the developer on whether not a Vita version will happen, stay tuned)
Earth’s Dawn is obviously lacking in some areas where Vanillaware games shine, but it’s also being released at a budget price of $30.00 — There is fun to be had with Earth’s Dawn, and if you’re a fan of the side-scrolling action genre, you probably won’t regret purchasing it.