One of last month’s Games with Gold (free) was Earthlock, Festival of Magic. I had never heard of it before, but I figured I would give it a shot. This is really a solid game. I’m probably about 50% done and I hope to finish it. This is a game which gives a nod to classic JRPGS (Japanese Role-Playing Games) in that the combat is turn-based and you travel the world on a highly zoomed-out map. You can fast travel once you find the fast travel books.
The combat is a lot of fun. As stated, it’s turned-based, which means that each of your party members takes a turn attacking, as do the enemies. Before each of your players’ turns, you decide what they are going to do. Each character has two stances, usually an offensive and supportive role for magic users and two different types of combat styles for your melee. You have some choice in how many enemies you can take on at once based on the main map, but not always. The more you take on at once, the higher xp you get, which is used to level up and get more abilities and strength.
There is also a small crafting system. You rarely get seeds from boss mobs, which you can plant and cultivate. Each one gives you something useful for ammo or different types of attacks. You’ll do quite a bit of farming as it is a necessary part of the game, but I found it a nice break between long trips on the road.
There are boss mobs which can be really challenging. Be prepared to grind a bit for xp in this game. I enjoyed it and felt that it was a throw back to older games. You have to work to progress in this game and it feels rewarding. This game is getting some negative reviews as a result, but I wouldn’t listen to that. You also have to be quite careful about your save points as it’s not very forgiving in that area. Save, save, save.
Leveling up is fun. You have a tech tree of sorts which lets you add new attributes that you either craft or find out of chests or bosses. Customization is strong in this game. There are also little parts of the game that I find fun such as bestiary tracking. You’ll also play around with the pairing of your characters as well. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses, but you also get bonuses for bonding two characters together. Your party is four characters, but you pair two groups together for this bonding.
I would recommend playing this game. It felt pretty retro, the story is compelling, the graphics are nice and there’s enough variety in the game play and dungeons to make each area feel fresh.