Today, November 1, 2016 marks the release of Earth’s Dawn, a Sci-Fi Hack-and-Slash Side Scrolling RPG element filled amalgamation of a game. Earth’s Dawn is the developer Oneoreight’s first foray into the console gaming industry even though it was previously released in Japan under the title Earth Wars. In the not too distant future; 2020 to be exact, an alien life form referred to as E.B.E inhabit Earth. Immediately the E.B.E destroy all they can and the only way for the Humans to fight back is by equipping themselves with a bio-armor that is made from E.B.E technology. The soldiers that yield these suits of armor are referred to as A.N.T.I. Soldiers. If this sounds like a familiar story line you might have played God Eater: Resurrection. But where God Eater: Resurrection failed (my opinion) Earth’s Dawn seems to exceed and I can’t wait to share my thoughts as to why.
When I first watched the trailer for Earth’s Dawn (around 12:00 pm PST today) I thought to myself, “This looks like great stupid fun.” And it is, every bit of it. The animation for the characters is stiff and blocky yet I find that this adds a certain charm to the games aesthetic. The story takes place in the United States of America yet the voice acting is done in Japanese with English subtitles. This shouldn’t work but it does. I love it! And to add sparkling bright fighting effects to battles and kills adds additional charms that offsets the somewhat bland background. Sure the backgrounds are very basic and repetitive but what more could you ask for from a side scrolling game? Not much yet Earth’s Dawn delivers a complex gaming experience under the guise of a simple button smashing game.
Earth’s Dawn doesn’t break the mold in-game play mechanics and I wouldn’t expect it to. As an A.N.T.I Soldier you have two basic attack weapons; Sword (Square Button) and Gun (Triangle Button). The concept has that classic Arcade feel, progress through the stages killing creatively detailed enemies while you chain your attacks together with a “Boost” dash. As you progress through stages and Missions you do gain the classic RPG ability known as a “Break” (Circle Button) which allows you to “break” through parts of the stage that you were too weak to destroy before. I found myself smiling as I progressed through stages as the gameplay is pure mindless stupid fun. And I mean that as a compliment. I think the last time I had this much fun inventing chained combos was as long ago as Devil May Cry 3 or more recently as God of War:Ascension.
Earth’s Dawn doesn’t start and stop with mindless button smashing, you also have to craft your equipment and build upon your Skill Tree. The weapons and armor crafting is very basic wherein you use the materials found during your missions to craft new weapons and armor. You can also use the material to upgrade existing equipment with enhancements. One minor issue that I have with the weapon and armor crafting is that when I’ve finished building my equipment there was no option to equip in the Crafting screen. I had to exit out to the Crafting menu screen and select equip. This is a minor issue and doesn’t deter from the overall gaming experience but it is worth mentioning. Another thing worth mentioning is the minor and I mean very minor detail on the Skill Tree screen. Oneoreight made the Skill Tree based on building off of your armor’s spine. As I said earlier your soldiers armor is built using E.B.E Technology and I found the inclusion of a spinal cord outline on the Skill Tree to be a very nice touch. The Crafting and Skill Tree add a great RPG element to Earth’s Dawn. They were such a pleasant surprise too.
While playing Earth’s Dawn I was awarded another pleasant surprise, the
“Counteroffensive”. The “Counteroffensive” can be found on the same menu screen as the “Mission Select”, “Crafting” and “Skill Tree” options. It is represented in the top right corner as a digital clock that counts down to zero. Once the clock reaches zero you will be thrown into the Stage/Mission of the “Counteroffensive”. This experience happens whether you’re ready or not. I found this as a great addition as it adds a level of tension and readiness that I wasn’t used to experiencing in a side scroll action hack-and-slash game.
Earth’s Dawn is a game that get’s a “S” grade from me. It’s an unexpected gem filled with creative nuances that work for me. The graphics, voice acting, sound effects, sound track and gameplay mechanics combined make for a very rewarding gaming experience. I was smiling the entire time I played. There’s a serious side to Earth’s Dawn that can be found in the Crafting and Skill Tree but I never felt like I needed to focus on improving any one ability or mission. I could simply have fun grinding out the stages/missions and then have more fun crafting weapons and armor and even more fun building my skill sets as they pertain to my play style. Oneoreight, I will be looking forward to your next entry into the console gaming business.