EarthNight Review: Dragon Massacre
Kalvin Martinez / Jan 2nd, 2020 No Comments
EarthNight falls into that category of promising indies that have been shown off at PAX and the likes for years. No matter when you saw it, the core gameplay was undeniable, but the wait was excruciating. Mostly because you wanted to play it.
Good news! EarthNight is finally out and it was well worth the wait. The promising platforming gameplay is like a dream with lush graphics and great world building.
EarthNight isn’t a story driven game, however, that doesn’t mean it is simply gameplay for gameplay sake. What it does best is establish a sense of place, personality, and builds it world smartly in a number of different ways.
It is the end of the world. Dragons have taken over and roam in the atmosphere above the Earth. A few survivors made it out living in a space station high above the Earth. They occupy their time trying to kill as many dragons as possible as they try to make it back to Earth.
Our two protagonists are Sydney and Stanley. Their personalities are different with Sydney being more feisty, while Stanley feels low key with a deep anger boiling beneath. Truthfully both have their share of rage because with such a bleak situation how could you not? However, the subtle difference to the personalities makes them stand out from one another.
These differences in personalities extend to Stanley and Sydney’s play styles. Stanley can perform higher and longer jumps, while Sydney focuses on double jumping and performing a tope suicida through the air. When it comes to slaying dragons they both functions relatively similar except Stanley uses a sword on his back, and Sydney uses a terrifying psychic manifestation.
While the subtle nuances in the personalities of our protagonists are a nice touch, the world building comes primarily from Dr. Dave and the trinkets you find exploring the backs of dragons. It is remarkable what relics of Earth made their way to the atmosphere. By collecting these valuable items you get a sense of what was important on Earth before everything went to hell.
Additionally, Dr. Dave provides you upgrades after you’ve gathered enough trinkets. You get a good sense of what life is like in this post-apocalyptic life by the items you can unlock by harvesting trinkets and dragon body parts. It also shows the ingenuity of the human spirit even in its darkest moments.
Run, Jump, Dodge, Slay
While the space station is your home base, the majority of the game takes place in free fall and on the backs of dragons. As you jump out of the space station falling toward Earth, you navigate an atmosphere full of different colored dragons. It is like swimming through an ocean flooded with sharks except the sharks are giant and contain smaller, more vicious sea creatures on their backs. Also, treasure!
This is a mesmerizing and striking visual that acts as a hub for the game’s procedural levels. Every dragon you see, you can land on its back and slay it. Even though slaying dragons is the goal, it isn’t as straightforward as it might seem.
While each level has its own unique feel thanks to procedural generation, the central conceit is the same: you’re trying to make it to the dragon’s head without taking too much damage to slay the dragon. Along the way are many lesser enemies, trinkets and dragon’s eggs.
Whether you kill lesser enemies or ignore them is your choice. So long as you make it to the dragon’s head it doesn’t matter how many you kill ultimately. If you can avoid taking damage and killing than all the better. The more relevant aspect of killing enemies is how it affects your momentum and health regeneration.
Jumping on an enemy causes you to bounce higher letting you propel to greater heights and reach secrets high above the surface. Staying off the ground has its benefits as you can avoid more enemies by staying higher above the dragon’s skin.
To reward skill for staying in the air and subsequently killing enemies, you regain health after 4 consecutive jumps. Strategically, it makes sense to jump on enemies thoughtfully to make it to the end of tougher dragons.
Longevity in runs is decided by how well you can recover health and chain kills. In each run, you start at the Thermosphere and have to make your way to the Earth.
Along the way are many, many dragons. The closer you get to Earth, the harder the dragons are to slay. It behooves you to play a long strategic game if you want to make it to the surface.
The trinkets and dragon eggs are more important to grab as they help you gain new upgrades and power ups. In turn making dragons easier to slay. Trinkets increase your water level, which in turn affects your ability to gain upgrades. Dragon eggs act as supplementary upgrade materials to dragon parts taken as trophies after you slay them.
By filling your water tank and returning dragon parts to Dr. Dave, you’ll unlock power-ups that upgrade your abilities and give you new abilities like the ability to double jump as Stanley
Ultimately, you only need to worry about getting to the end of a level without dying, to slay a dragon by stabbing its head. However, demonstrating skill and mastery involves more than that. The key to a good run involves making sure you’re staying aloft, avoiding enemies when necessary and killing them when it’ll recover vital health.
Being successful in Earth Night comes down to timing: are you utilizing your skills at the right time? Thanks to dynamic gameplay that changes the closer you are to Earth, the timing shift requiring players to be reactive in how they tackle levels.
EarthNight is well worth the wait. It has wonderful platforming gameplay with a ton of personality that help build out its world and the dragon apocalypse.
If you’re looking for a challenging platformer with plenty of replayability, check it out!
EarthNight was reviewed on a Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the developer.
tags: CleaverSoft , EarthNight , EarthNight Review , review