Version Reviewed: Nintendo Switch
(The copy featured in this review was provided for by the developers)
At the end of the 21st century, human civilisation has fallen to the impact of “The Great Climate Shift.” This weather phenomenon has caused the Earth’s surface to sink underwater, causing the human race to perish. Marine life have evolved into mechanized sea-life creatures. Octopuses are equipped with homing missiles, Angelfish shoot out widespread lasers, Pufferfish send out dozens of spikes, and so much more marine life have become creature-machine hybrid monsters of the deep blue sea. This is where your journey begins, as a “Hunter.”
Earth Atlantis is a unique side-scrolling game where you explore the map as a hunter. You traverse the dreadful post-apocalyptic underwater world with your low-level submarine. Monsters quickly swarm you and keep you constantly on your toes. There are some moments where you get the chance to view the hazy sepia-tone background. There are iconic figures such as the Statue of Liberty, prairie style homes, dilapidated ruins, and human markings drawn the ocean caverns.
Your mission is to hunt down the big machines tucked away in various corners of the sea and put them out of their misery. However, your puny submarine can’t challenge the boss immediately. You have to kill a lot of swarming sea-life in the hope that they will drop power-ups for your primary weapon. Power-ups simply look like a bubble with the letter “P” inside. The more power-ups you pick up the more you can steadily increase how many bullets your submarine can spit out, as well the different directions they will shoot out of your submarine.
It’s virtually impossible to fight the boss with just your primary weapon. Exploration becomes important to find wooden crates that drop specialised ammunition. Equipping your submarine with these special ammunition types will work in conjunction with your primary weapon. They appear in a similar fashion as power-ups. You have “M” for torpedo missiles, “E” for electric beam, “B” for bouncing bombs and “H” for homing missiles. Your submarine can only hold one special ammunition type at a time. Similar to your power-ups, the more that you pick of the same type the stronger it becomes.
Once your submarine becomes fully-loaded, you can start fighting these magnanimous mechanised sea-creatures. It is crucial for a player to learn a creatures patterns and maneuver past the copious trajectories from the enemy. Wallops to the submarine can cause you to lose power-ups, which consequently makes your fire-power weaker. Some bosses aren’t as challenging as others. However, there were a liberal amount of bosses that had one-hit K.O. at a full bar of health. While you do have the option to freely leave any major fight, it becomes tiring. When fleeing from a boss fight, you are more than likely low on health and in need of power-up for your submarine. This takes longer than you would think. Not every low-minion sea-creature drops health recovery and power-ups, and none of them drop special ammunition. If you suffer the unfortunate “game over” title screen this makes your situation even more tedious, as you have to essentially start over again with your puny one-bullet submarine. Although there are few starting points that you choose on the map, I still found myself traveling back to find wooden crates with special ammunition and hunting down small sea-creatures for power-ups. The entire process on average took me five to ten minutes to fully deck-out my submarine and ready myself for the arduous fight.
Successfully beating a boss is hardly rewarding. Some bosses unlock small caves with wooden chest boxes containing special ammunition, allowing you to either switch or make what you already have stronger. Other successful fights extend the map for more exploration. While it’s rewarding to explore new areas, Earth Atlantis does something quite unusual. Instead of constantly progressing to new areas of the map, the game decides to do both. New bosses are reintroduced to the map in previous locations where you defeated one earlier. It’s a blessing in its originality as well a curse in having to go back to locations you’ve already previously have been.
Earth Atlantis’s exploration is minimal yet slightly interesting when you’re able to stop and take a look at what’s going on in the background. The mechanised creatures look like they could come from a modern day 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Creatures that you have never seen before, with abilities that surpass human technology. Earth Atlantis takes a dive too deep with fights that are overwhelmingly too punishing. The risk for the reward just isn’t substantial enough.