2D role playing games are somewhat of an oddity in gaming today, with only a handful of games standing out since the playstation 2 era. Oneoreight Studios’ Earth’s Dawn takes the 2D side-scrolling RPG genre into new territory with a science fiction setting similar to Gears of War, with fast-paced, button-mashing combat and plenty of customization.
It is the year 2020 and mankind is on the brink of extinction. Creatures known as the E.B.E. have infested over seventy percent of the United States, and modern weaponry is no match for them. In Earth’s Dawn you play as a member of a task force called the A.N.T.I., which uses weapons created by fusing metals with E.B.E. tissue. Using these weapons, the A.N.T.I. look to push back the E.B.E. with a series of counter offensives.
Earth’s Dawn is a 2D side-scrolling RPG that plays similarly to Odin Sphere with more of a hack-and-slash element. The player begins the game by selecting from a variety of missions from zones across the United States which have been infested with E.B.E. These missions are short and sweet for the most part, usually ten to fifteen minutes on the high end, and some as short as thirty seconds in length. The objectives of these missions are usually eliminating a certain number of specific creatures, or collecting a certain amount of a type of material. After a handful of these missions, the player must take part in a counter offensive which progresses the story and unlock new zones.
During each mission you’ll be accompanied by a squad of fellow A.N.T.I. members, who really don’t serve much of a purpose. As soon as a wave of enemies approach, the squad disappears, leaving you to save the world all on your own. This sometimes can be a good thing, as the squad tends to take up way too much screen space and often times in Earth’s Dawn the camera feels a little too close for comfort. As the levels progress, not only do the swarms of E.B.E. become larger, but the E.B.E. creatures themselves become quite monstrous in size, which makes the screen feel crowded and hard to manuever. Being a 2D side scroller there’s only so much real estate to work with, but simply zooming out the camera slightly would have greatly improved some of the frantic combat sequences.
The combat pretty much consists of four buttons for slashing, shooting, jumping, and dashing. The game can become a real button masher at times, especially later on in the game when the waves of enemies become so big that creatures almost stack on top of one another.
The most redeeming feature of Earth’s Dawn is the large amount of weapon and skill customization. As you complete missions you’ll collect materials and unlock skills which can be equipped in the massive skill tree. As you progress through the missions, mostly the counter offensives, you unlock new guns and blades which can be crafted. These weapons can also be enhanced using certain materials, as well as broken down into materials once you’ve crafted a weapon that is an upgrade. Earth’s Dawn is definitely a game for grinders, as you can replay missions as many times as you like to stockpile materials and enhance your blade, firearm, and armor before progressing through the story missions.
As mentioned above, Earth’s Dawn has a massive skill tree that really lets you tailor your A.N.T.I. soldier to your style of play. There are five different base styles to choose from such as Attack, Defense, Ability, or Technical Specialist, or you can choose the balanced style. Once your style is chosen you can dig deeper and begin to assign specific skills that you’ve unlocked during missions. The skill tree is laid out in the resemblance of a spinal cord, and consists of hundreds of different skills to equip. You have a capacity of how many skills you can equip, which increases as you level up your A.N.T.I.
One of the things that really stands out in Earth’s Dawn is the visual style of the characters and creatures. The art style and atmosphere of the game is a unique amalgamation of japanese anime and games like Gears of War. Earth’s Dawn‘s cut scenes feature still images with japanese voice acting, which could be a turn off for some players who aren’t into reading subtitles.
Earth’s Dawn‘s storyline, repetitive missions, and minor technical flaws are for the most part outshined by its immersive customization and weapon crafting, as well as its unique visual art style. Earth’s Dawn is a must-play for the players that embrace the grind and are looking for a 2D side-scrolling RPG similar to Odin Sphere.
Playstation 4 review code of Earth’s Dawn provided by Reverb Communications