Monday, January 9, 2017

That didn't take long

I didn't have to wait long for the first stinker of the year. Fresh off the unapologetic glow of World of Final Fantasy I jumped into Earth's Dawn, a game added to the list after playing the Odin Sphere remake. Vanillaware does not exactly pump software out on a regular basis so another 2D side scrolling RPGish game would have to do, right?

It would if the game was any good. For starters, Earth's Dawn cannot even approach the visual fluidity and clarity of either Odin Sphere or Dragon's Crown. It has the stiff animation and poor color depth of a browser based flash game. Not a good one like Alien Hominid, I'm talking the old, terrible New Grounds shit that you needed to run a virus scan and clear your browser history after playing.

Odin Sphere did not have complicated combat. Moves were limited but they all were useful and made sense. Earth's Dawn starts out with two attacks on two buttons, one for your left hand and one for your right. The right hand is a sword with the standard mashy combos and the left is a gun that for some reason does much less damage than the sword. That a double jump and an air dash is about as deep as it gets. Even juggling enemies is prevented from being useful by inconsistent hit detection and odd moves.

Yes, there is more to unlock, but Earth's Dawn has the most convoluted weapon and skills upgrade system I have seen in years. Weapon crafting is the lesser offender in that it is easy to figure out how to add items to increase a weapon's level but the game does not show you how a newly crafted weapon will compare to an existing one, meaning that you need to flip back and forth between menus several times to make sure it is work the money and resources to make a new sword or gun.

The skill 'tree' is going to give me nightmares. Skills unlock at random and can be assigned to one of five presets: balanced, attack, defence, technical and fuck if I remember what the last one was. Skills take points to activate, points that are gained by leveling, but leveling does not seem to have anything to do with the unlocking of said skills. Then there are bonuses that can be unlocked and then linked to an existing skill. You literally drag a line between the bonus and the skill, mucking up an already difficult to see menu.

Ages of clicking and dragging to add 1 damage to the first hit of the mash A combo.

None of this broke me. It came close when I realized that tutorial messages show up once and then are gone forever but I soldiered on...

Main story missions are separated by an in game timer. The timer counts down, albeit slowly, when in menus and disappears in chunks when a side mission is done. No problem so far, in fact in creates the illusion of having to get everything done as quickly as possible. Urgency is not a bad thing. The side missions, though, all take place in the same area. There are also side missions that cannot be completed when they are first unlocked. I ran across two that included monsters that I could not damage. Again, no worries, I would just skip them until I leveled up.

Then I ran out of other missions to do with a significant amount of time left on the in game clock before the next story mission, It expected me to grind through previously finished levels. We all know how much I like repeating myself in a game.

Earth's Dawn is officially the first shit game of 2017.

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