Earth Atlantis (PS4/XB1) Review
Release Date: June 1, 2018
Publisher/Developer: Headup Games/Pixel Perfex
Platform: PS4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, previously available on Switch
Read previous review here
In October 2017, I reviewed Earth Atlantis on Nintendo Switch. Here in June 2018, the title has made it's way to Xbox One and PS4. You play as a "Hunter" in a world where massive floods have turned 96 percent of the world into oceans, and once beautiful cities into man-made reefs. The artificial intelligence of the future returned to the water with humans, and merged with or evolved into mechanical monstrosities. Your goal is to eliminate these enemies and make the Earth safe for humans again.
Earth Atlantis' main draw is...well, how it is drawn. The graphics look like what a pirate would doodle on the edge of his treasure maps. The parchment-colored background uses depth to show beautiful landscapes as well as hulking monstrosities that will come to the foreground to eliminate your vessel. As you work your way through the maze, you take down the behemoths which in turn opens up more of your map and lets you go deeper into the seas.
You start out with one basic ship, and can unlock three more over the course of the game. Each has a different amount of speed, armor, and basic fire capability. As you dive deeper, you come across power-ups that increase the fire capabilities of your basic weapon or add a side weapon (straight or homing missles, bouncing bombs, or an electric proximity shock) that slowly build in power as well. You can only hold one side weapon at a time, and changing between them will cause the old to bubble out as a power-up from your craft so you can swap back if you don't like your new weapon. The game is arcadey, with a stick to move, a button to turn around, and a button to shoot. A rudimentary map shows the general direction you need to go to reach your next enemy. When I reviewed the Switch edition, my biggest complaint was how dying meant frantically scavenging to get your power back. At the time, there was a promise that an update would make it a little easier to get your power back post-death, and I think I see that. It's subtle, but I do note that I get back up to power easier than I did before. You still start out with the basic shot, but it seems I don't have to scour the map just to go back to a boss. That was frustrating before the upgrade, as enemies continually spawn, so there was a lot of rehasing if you died on a difficult boss who could one-shot you only to have it happen again. You still get one-shotted, but it takes less time to get there.
The game is identical to the Switch release, which you can read my review of here. In fact, I spent time going back and forth between the systems and my wife never noticed the transition. There's no new sections or upgrades past what has been added to the Switch. Therefore, it comes with the same problems. The graphics, while cool, do tend to blend. Sometimes what looks like a pillar blocking your way is just an object in the foreground. This game would work wonders on the 3DS or in a VR unit that would allow a 3D field of vision. Also, the "parchment" color muddles up the enemy and friendly fire, and the general slowness coming from "underwater" levels slows down the franticness of a bullet-hell shooter. It does come with all the positives, too, with it's tight, responsive controls and intense boss battles that are extremely satisfying once you complete them.
With identical pricing, I find it hard to not recommend the Switch version first. The game is identical, meaning the portability is a wonderful bonus. Perhaps if it had a cross-buy with the Vita it would be closer, but dual-console owners seem to have an obvious choice. That being said, Earth Atlantis is a wonderful game that combines the powerup strategy of Mega Man, the titanic bosses of Shadow of the Colossus, and an intense bullet-hell shooter that's well worth the bargain price.
-Intense boss battles
-A great game for a new audience on the PS4 and Xbox One
-Monochromatic graphics are pretty, but they can get confusing with depth perception or enemy and friendly fire mixed
-Slow speed for a bullet-hell shooter
-Still some backtracking when you die, making progress a bit frustrating.
Special thanks to Headup Games and Pixel Perfex for providing a code for review!