Earth Atlantis Review
There is a relaxing quality to the side-scrolling subaquatic shooter Earth Atlantis as players explore a post-apocalyptic underwater wasteland, hunting tough bosses whilst navigating a labyrinthian world in their trusty submarine. Developed by Pixel Perfex and published by Headup Games, Earth Atlantis is an intriguing spin on a retro gaming style ideal for dipping in and out of, but with not much depth to its gameplay alongside frustrating boss encounters, there’s simply not enough to keep you engaged for long.
One of the best aspects of the game is its unique artwork. Designed to resemble nautical maps and illustrations from the 14th century, Earth Atlantis’ hand-drawn aesthetic demonstrates incredible detail in environments and enemies; each area has something to catch your eye and makes diving deeper into this world worthwhile in itself. Likewise, the sound design, too, is a huge part of the tranquil gameplay experience of exploring, defeating swarms of enemies, and powering-up your sub with a selection of pick ups that are scattered throughout the world and dropped by fallen foes. Both weapon upgrades and health are acquired frequently enough that life is never made too difficult for you and that you feel like you’ve earned them.
The real challenge of the game comes from hunting down the game’s bosses, and this is where the game becomes marginally less fun. While each boss is unique in terms of its design and strategy, they are all essentially massive bullet sponges which boil down to battles of attrition than skill; dodge a barrage of projectiles and keep shooting, hoping you’ve levelled your ship high enough to drain their health before they drain yours. This challenge can also become far less interesting once you learn that you sneakily position yourself in the entrance of the boss area, out of the reach of most attacks, and slowly chip away their health. However, this “tactic” has resulted in the sub spontaneously exploding. Whether this is a strange glitch or clever foresight from the developers is unknown.
It’s only after being bested by a boss you realise the monumental journey that lies in front of you. In Earth Atlantis, there are no lives; death means it’s game over and you respawn after sitting through the opening loading screens again with the realisation that your upgrades are gone – aside from one power-up and weapon spawning next to your ship. This means that before you can retry the boss again, you need to commit to a cycle of aimlessly swimming around the same areas waiting as you level-up again and repeat until you succeed. Thankfully, though, previously defeated bosses don’t respawn and you are able to chose your respawn point with a selection of starting points scattered throughout the map.
The game is not without its oddities either. After defeating a boss, a new area will be made available to you within the boss area. Strangely though, these newly unlocked areas lead nowhere and players are therefore forced to swim in circles until stumbling across a new area or boss. The game does employ a small radar that shows you the rough direction of the next encounter, but with the maze-like nature of the world, the radar is all but useless at times. Exploration would benefit massively from a more detailed map system that unveils more of the world as you explore, something that would fit in with the aesthetics of ocean exploration the game is going for.
What you see is what you get with Earth Atlantis. A minimalistic and stylish side-scrolling shooter with a large list of bosses to hunt down. With its punishingly difficult boss battles and death mechanics alongside its sprawling world that’s easy to get lost in, this is a game that isn’t meant to be played in prolonged sessions. Rather, this is something to jump into if you have a spare twenty minutes or so to try again at that boss who’s been giving you trouble or see what else is waiting to be discovered in the depths of the wasteland. That’s truly the best way to experience Earth Atlantis.
Earth Atlantis is available to pre-order now on the Microsoft Store for £9.59 until 1st June when the game is released.