last year, I reviewed a game called “Song of the Deep”, which allowed me to pilot a submarine in a Metroid-like environment. Since I was such a fan of that game, I was very eager to get my hands on “Earth Atlantis” from developer Pixel Perfex. Although the visuals of this game are fantastic and it’s an interesting combination of two game genres, the gameplay is frustrating and repetitive. It starts with promise, but left me wishing it were something else instead.
The hook of Earth Atlantis’ story is a great one. The majority of the planet has been flooded and overrun with underwater sea monsters/machines. You play the pilot of one of four different submarines and are tasked with exploring the underwater remains of civilization. Your goal is to take out several bosses as you search for stranded survivors.
“Earth Atlantis” combines a couple of different genres, a shmup and a 2-D exploration game, into a single game. In my experience, most shmups are very linear in nature, so this idea had a lot of promise behind it. You start each round with very limited weaponry. As you start to tear apart your enemies, they leave behind several different kinds of power-ups. Most of them slowly increase the spread and damage of your primary weapon. Others offer upgrades to secondary weapons; you can choose between missiles, bombs, or area of effect-damaging electricity.
At first, it’s a lot of fun to see your sub slowly increase stats over time until you’re plastering the screen with your own bullet hell. Unfortunately, that novelty wears off very quickly when you die and have to start the process over again on each run. This is particularly unnerving when you come across certain bosses that will destroy your sub in one hit. It feels cheap in a way that distracts from what should otherwise be a very enjoyable experience.
Where “Earth Atlantis” shines, however, is in its very unique art design. The entire game feels like a collection of animated pencil sketches. This aesthetic is absolutely appealing and offers something completely different in terms of what we’re used to in video game design. It looks like someone created a series of sketches on a flip book and made a working game out of it.
On top of that, the background images are stunning. Several notable monuments appear in a way that gives the illusion that you’re seeing them in 3-D. The only issue that I have with the look of this game is that the sepia tones, while brilliant to look at, get in the way of the gameplay at times. Several of the projectiles that you have to dodge are colored white, which makes them very difficult to see. Countless times I found my ship damaged, because I didn’t see something being fired at me until it was too late.
“Earth Atlantis” Final Verdict
“Earth Atlantis” is a game that I sincerely wish I enjoyed more than I did. The concept is a unique blend of different game styles that I enjoy very much. On paper, it should work great, but the repetitive nature of starting over got in the way of me having a good time. Even though I wouldn’t classify this as a rogue-like, it had some elements of that genre. Games like “Rogue Legacy” held my interest by bringing my character back stronger at the beginning of each run. With this game, I started each run just as powerless as the last and felt no progression whatsoever. Still, the visuals are worth at least a casual glance, as they are truly something special. That alone will have me keeping a close eye on this developer to see what they offer in the future.
This review is based on a review copy of “Earth Atlantis” on the Nintendo Switch provided by Headup Games.