E3 2019 Hands-on – EarthNight
There weren’t that many indie titles at E3 this year, mostly being featured in one bigger booth called Indiecade, but the few that appeared at the show were pretty good. I had the chance of playing EarthNight with the developers from Cleaversoft and ended up loving it.
EarthNight is a weird mix between an auto runner, a platformer and a roguelike. Your objective is to run along the back of a dragon and reach its head in order to kill it with some stabs, all while avoiding and/or killing enemies, as well as collecting loot, crafting materials and power-ups along the trek. By the way, you do all of this in space, as humanity has been exiled to space after a dragon apocalypse. It sounds like a premise to a concept album written by a hippie band in the 60’s, but it actually works as one heck of an addictive little game.
The first thing I noticed when I started playing EarthNight is how downright gorgeous it looks. Everything in the game, every single frame of animation, was hand drawn, and it looks unbelievable, like a living breathing child’s book. The chiptune soundtrack is also excellent. The folks at Cleaversoft are all musicians, and their writing and performing talent is noticeable at all times.
The art department is all fine and dandy, but given this is a roguelike, the gameplay loop is what matters the most in a game like this. If the game is a borefest, it gives me no reason to keep on playing it. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case: I became quickly enamored with the very simple gameplay and the methods to destroy enemies and collect power-ups. I mostly played the game with the newcomer-friendly Stanley, who can’t attack enemies unless he stomps on them (beware of spiky heads!) or collects a temporary attack badge that allows him to automatically defeat a foe if he touches it.
Given the fact EarthNight was one of the last games I played during the last day at E3, all of the main power-ups had already been upgraded to their maximum power, meaning that I didn’t have to collect crafting materials throughout my runs. Every badge was fully upgraded, meaning that I had access to a huge double jump boost, attack perks, and so on. In no moment I felt overpowered, though. You still need to hone your platforming skills to reach difficult platforms with better loot, as well as dealing with a ton of enemies while having a very small health bar. I died a few times during my play session, and would immediately start a new run. I think that’s the best thing you can say about a game like this.
I am not going to lie, I knew very little of EarthNight before playing it at E3, but now I just can’t wait for it to be finally released just so I can play more of it. The visuals, the soundtrack, the gameplay loop, the controls, everything just feels excellent. I left my play session feeling the same click I felt after playing The Messenger during last year’s E3. You all know how magnificent that other game ended up being…