The premise of Earth Atlantis is simple. The majority of the Earth’s surface is now underwater (well, even more than usual) and vicious machines have taken the form of sea life: pirañas, swordfish, hermit crabs, you name it; they’re all roaming the seas with deadly weapons. As the pilot of a submarine, you are tasked with destroying the largest of the monsters in what is practically a boss rush game.
There are four different ships to control, each with their own unique stats and shot types. At the beginning though, you only have access to the first one which is fair enough. The controls are very simple, in fact only two buttons are used. One button is held down for your shots, another is pressed to switch the direction your craft is facing.
There’s a huge map for you to explore although most of it is cordoned off until you achieve certain objectives and, as stated already, the objective is monster hunting. On your map you can see where the current available bosses are hiding. You have freedom of movement to explore your surroundings and make your way to your goal.
At first your offensive capabilities are pretty much pathetic with just one tiny shot. Killing some of the standard enemies may grant you an upgrade of which you can get a lot. So much so that you can end up with five shots forward and four backwards. That’s when you’ll start packing a punch and you’ll very much need it. You can also pick up a few special weapons which fire in conjunction with your normal attack. These range from missiles to electrical attacks and more and they’re very useful.
It may be odd, but Earth Atlantis reminds me of a shoot ‘em up version of something like Metroid 2, whereby the goal is to annihilate boss after boss after boss and clear the entire world. Bosses are hugely varied too, which is to the games credit and they look incredible. With the standard enemies you can play the game almost mindlessly, but with the bosses it’s full on action where intense concentration is needed. I loved fighting the bosses.
Earth Atlantis is a relentless game, though. Of the three difficulties to choose from I played on Normal which, even for me, was a tough challenge. While the standard enemies can gang up on you and make life difficult for you, they’re not really going to kill you. The bosses are just unforgiving though, charging at you full on, bursting out three attacks at a time and not letting you rest for a second. Some bosses you will have to attempt a handful of times before you can squeeze through them. Unfortunately, dying to them is quite tiresome. Sure, you don’t lose any unsaved data, but all your power ups and upgrades are gone which you will have to grind back up before you attempt the boss again. Respawning points are few and far between too, so it may be quite a trek back to where you want to be.
The constant grind to regain upgrades after dying is what effectively killed the game for me. Sometimes you can be quite lucky and regain them all back quickly, but other times you’ll be desperately searching around for enemies or waiting for them to respawn. Maybe you think I’m overreacting or something but it genuinely sucked all the enthusiasm I had to continue playing the game. Every time I died to a boss, I honestly considered whether I actually wanted to keep playing or not and most of the time the answer was no.
The gameplay never really expands either, it’s just about the same thing all the way through with the occasional enemy ship or event. So while the bosses are fun, they do begin to lose something as you keep moving on to the next one, almost like a routine.
The art style is what originally struck me about the game and drew me into wanting to review it. It’s striking for sure, with its etched on paper look. Having the game in your hands though, it doesn’t quite hold up to how wonderful it looks in screenshots. It’s clearly a 3D modelled game with a filter put over it. Maybe that’s doing it a disservice, but it’s nowhere near the beauty I thought it would be in motion. It’s still an interesting style and I appreciate they’ve tried something a little different.
Overall, Earth Atlantis is a decent attempt at a shoot ‘em up adventure game but it misses the mark a little. It doesn’t do much in terms of gameplay mechanics as it never really expands beyond its premise, but the core stuff is done well. With bosses being a large part of the experience it’s nice to say that they’ve been done great in terms of variety but the punishment for dying is just a tedious grind of getting all your power ups back just to face the boss again. It really sucked the fun out of the game for me, which is a shame as Earth Atlantis could have been something really awesome. If you can put up with grinding for upgrades again and again, I’m sure you’ll love Earth Atlantis, but for me, it sadly made the game more of a chore than something fun.
Game provided by Headup Games.