While there are some that will try and deny the effect climate change has on our planet, history has proven that it can be catastrophic for all life on Earth. With that said, are we steering towards a blink future for all of humanity? Possibly, but you don’t have to wait to experience what happens, as Pixel Perfex believes we will be using submersibles to fight terrifying creatures from the depths of the ocean. In this post-apocalyptic world, you’ll explore a retro-inspired landscape, designed in one of the most unique and enjoyable art styles I've seen in quite some time.
Earth Atlantis was designed to be reminiscent of early 14th century sketches, back in a time where the wonder and intrigue of the sea was a calling. A time where monsters of myth were believed to be real, a time where creatures haunted the hearts of man. As you explore the once great cities of mankind, be on a lookout for historic buildings, statues, and other readily identifiable remnants. As a side-scrolling shooter, Earth Atlantis tasks players with hunting the creature-machine hybrid monsters, now that 96% of the earth’s surface is underwater. On your way to finding these massive creatures, you’ll come across numerous and ever spawning smaller fish, crustaceans and other metal entities. The only valid purpose they serve is to replenish your health and provide weapon advancements. For that reason, if you are already full on health and power-ups, they won’t drop anything, and instead, act as an annoyance as you steer your way to the next boss marked on the mini-map.
There are a smattering of different upgrades that can be found tucked away in hidden caverns and fissures, usually providing a new sub-weapon option. The different types are suitable for any play style, as you have your pick from homing torpedoes, conventional missiles, bouncing bombs, and electricity. Personally, I ended up enjoying the electric sub-weapon for most of my time with the game, as it damages just about anything within a set range of your ship. As it becomes powered up, the damage and output increase, making it the best choice when trying to maneuver your way through tight corridors and having to deal with the ever-spawning enemies that will come at you from all sides. If you are hit, you may drop a power-up, but if you are quick enough, you can recover it before it pops.
Presented as a side-scrolling shoot ‘em up, Earth Atlantis certainly feels at home with other arcade and bullet-hell shooters. Enemy density and tenacity seems to be tied to how long you have been playing, I’ll explain. Once you begin, you are lacking any power-ups and aren’t outputting much in terms of firepower. From my experience, you’ll get basic and quite weak enemies, but as you improve your ship, and defeat a few bosses, you’ll see an influx in enemies and more complex enemy types to contend with. Earth Atlantis features a fully connected world, with sections becoming available as you take down bosses. The more bosses you destroy, the more new areas you have to explore. There are checkpoints scattered throughout, so if you die or need to quit and continue later, you’ll start at that location and not at the very start. This is key, as you don’t want to waste time traveling back to the room before a boss when you could have spawned directly there.
There are four unique submersibles that you can use during your playthrough, although you’ll have to unlock them by actually defeating them, marked as pirates during your quest. Each has a set value for their armor, weapon, and speed, but most importantly, they have various primary weapons. The Nautilus, the first ship, is very basic, shooting directly in front of you, but when you have max power, your bullet density increased, and you shoot behind you as well. Whereas the aquanaut, can shoot in the eight cardinal directions when powered up, but has weaker armor and weapons, but is the faster ship in the game.
With 25 giant monsters to defeat, there is a lot of content to experience in the game; however, some may prove to be quite tricky, requiring you to either change your ship or sub-weapon. My electric powers between useless, when facing Rotodon-Electra, which damages you if you get to close! The minimap is very basic, showing you where the next set of bosses are located, as well as your position; however, it doesn’t mark any walls of obstructions in the environment. Because of that, the pacing can be quite slow if you don’t happen to make the right turn, especially when the foreground and background seem to blend too well together and you can’t discern what is merely a visual backdrop and what will stop you from progressing. As the entire game is using this aesthetic, you may have trouble identifying enemies and projectiles. It’s not a constant issue, but can be problematic in specific areas.
Earth Atlantis is an enjoyable shooter with a beautiful visual style, reminiscent of a time where monsters were believed to be hidden underwater. The game has been re-balanced since the initial Nintendo Switch release, not to mention being able to use the d-pad for steering the ship. There are two main game modes and multiple pilotable ships. Strangely the audio options are only available on the main menu, and I ended up muting my TV while playing as I found the constant shooting audio level to be a tad too overpowering. There are three difficulty modes as well as a record keeper for completion times, but it seems to be local only and not global. I think the game would benefit from trying to best your friends time in either mode.
Note: Earth Atlantis was reviewed based on a digital Xbox One copy of the game, provided by the publisher.