With a title that includes the word “festival”, I expect a fun, entertaining experience. Earthlock: Festival of Magic certainly did not disappoint! Snowcastle Games has created a great RPG with fantastic elements and interesting gameplay mechanics. A soothing soundtrack adds to the fantasy atmosphere that is the world of Umbra. You play as Amon and a party of characters, who must stop a war with a magical cult by unlocking the mysteries of Umbra. The planet of Umbra has stopped spinning, but the game will keep your brain spinning throughout the campaign! Let’s see how the rest of the game stacks up.
Blue Ball Score: 21 out of 25 balls
Earthlock: Festival of Magic is a tradional, but above-average, JRPG utilizing a party system with a twist. Several mechanics were added in to the mix that require a much more strategic approach for combat. You have your traditional RPG classes, including healers, melee, sponges, and long-range specialists. However, each character has multiple stances that provide unique abilities. For example, Amon’s primary stance utilizes close-range melee attacks with his dagger, or utilize an alternate stance for long-range battle using his spudgun. Each character can access unique abilities by switching their stance in or out of battle. As your characters level up, they can access different spells, abilities, and special attacks with enhanced damage/buffs.
The combat is turn-based, as is the case with most RPG’s. One thing that I particularly enjoyed was that encounters are not random. You will see the enemies on the map at all times, which can often give you the option to avoid combat when necessary. Of course, a true hardcore gamer would never turn from a battle, but I suppose extreme instances can warrant such cowardess. Enemies will begin to chase you when you reach certain proximities. At that time, you can choose to run or fight, OR get multiple enemies to chase you and group them up for more XP. That’s what I do, because I’m a total badass and stuff. Once you are in battle, you can use the D-Pad to choose abilities, items, or utility options for your turn. With the exception of the stance mechanism, all other combat aspects are fairly standard for RPG’s.
Traveling around the world is fairly easy in terms of knowing where you need to go. If you feel stuck, you can talk to the various NPC’s for pointers on where to go. The world is fairly small in terms of RPG standards and teleporters will help you bounce around the map quickly. As I mentioned previously, the enemies are on the map so you don’t have to worry about random battles if that’s not your thing. You’ll travel from point A to point B, all while battling enemies and leveling up at a steady pace. The game keeps things moving to keep you busy, and I was never left feeling the tasks were mundane or repetitive beyond reasonable measures.
Overall, stellar gameplay, easy controls, and a fun experience earn 4.5 balls.
The story moves along at a steady pace and keeps you busy with various tasks. I found it very difficult to be bored with this game, especially with lots of combat, exploration, and places to visit. While the story wasn’t out-of-this-world amazing, it was definitely entertaining. The dialogue was great, even with the absence of voice acting. There was plenty of humor mixed in that provided a fun change of pace. The characters seemed to pop off the screen with their various personalities. This helped to pull you into the story. I, for one, continuously found myself feeling sorry for the poor hogbunny as the enemies seemed to constantly pick on him during battle. Poor bunny :'(
Level progression seems very balanced as well. I found groups of enemies challenging, but never too difficult. Once I found my groove with combat, the various strategical aspects of combat provided an immersive and fun experience. I looked forward to unlocking new and stronger abilities to unleash on my opponents… and on my party, for all you healers out there. You’ll find that healers are an extremely important aspect of battle, so keep them fresh and at the ready! You’ll earn new perks and stats that can be applied to each character to keep you in fit, fighting form.
With an interactive story and multiple combat options, campaign earns 4.5 balls.
By incorporating farming into an important aspect of the game, you will definitely find yourself testing your green thumb. The plants grow quickly so don’t worry about spending hours on end. It only takes a few minutes to resupply and you’ll be on your way to the next destination. Teleporters throughout the world provide easy access back to your home island so you can resupply at your leisure. Harvesting won’t take much focus away from the main story and does not impede progress by any means. It adds to the overall experience by providing a fun way to gather supplies for the missions that lie ahead.
Due to the added fun without feeling the need to grind crops, harvesting earns a perfect 5 balls for being perfectly infused into the overall gameplay experience.
The soundtrack for Earthlock: Festival of Magic is amazing. Plenty of melodies to keep you entertained. I found them to be very soothing and calming, and they never overpowered my ears with unnecessary tones. The music was very enjoyable and was fitting within the virtual world. Sound effects were on par for RPG’s – nothing amazing, but nothing terrible. Everything seemed to mesh very well together to provide the player with an outstanding visual and aural experience.
Superb sound and whimsical graphics earn 4 balls.
In conclusion, I would highly recommend this game to anyone. Give it a shot. I dare you. I challenge you to try to not like this game. Just make sure that you give it a fair chance. Spend some time with the game and I would bet that you’ll begin to love it. Heck, it might even be the stepping stone to get you into the vast and treacherous world of RPG’s, if you’re not already there. An RPG game is like Secretariat – it breaks late. The real fun in any RPG game begins at around one-third of the way through the campaign. Earthbound: Festival of Magic is a great game and will certainly charm you into submission. The game earns a highly respectable score of 21 balls.