Moving from left to right, shooting everything in sight. It’s a simple mechanic, but so many games have explored that concept and done so in very different ways. Shooters are starting to appear more and more on the Switch and they come in a few different varieties.
Earth Atlantis tells the story of a post apocalyptic world. Earth has been flooded and now more than 90% of the planet is covered by water. The only way for humanity to survive is by taking life under the ocean. The only problem is that a race of robots also lives there and have disguised themselves as various types of aquatic life. Exploration is a key component of the game. The basic premise of the game is to go from boss fight to boss fight taking out everything in between.
Game play is similar to most side-scrolling or vertical shooters. You start out with a small, relatively weak weapon. As you shoot enemies they will begin to drop different things occasionally. One of those drops is a circle with the letter P indicating that is a weapon power-up. Grab those and your weapon will begin to get more powerful. The more you collect, the more powerful your weapon becomes. You’ll eventually be able to shoot behind and in front of your ship at the same time. There are also sub-weapons that can drop such as homing missiles, bombs, and even arcs of lightning. These sub-weapons fire automatically so there’s no need to worry about never using them. Different ships that you unlock also have different weapons so the more you play the game the more choice you have in how to approach the different bosses that you’ll fight.
One thing that really helps this game stand out is the visual style. Rather than going for flashy, colorful graphics full of lasers and particle effects the game takes a more subdued tone. Everything is done in sepia tones. It’s reminiscent of a game like Gunman Clive. The developer says it’s supposed to appear like you’re playing through the notes of an old explorer and you really do get that feel. Everything looks like it could have been sketched out by hand. The creatures you are fighting look detailed. They appear almost to be riveted together by someone. Not only do you get the story being told to you by the foreground, but the background is full of so many little details that help to tell a story as well. There are overturned cars on top of skyscrapers that are falling over. How’d they get there? What happened to cause the Statue or Liberty to be almost completely underwater? Pay attention to the background elements of the game as you’re playing.
The game’s not without its flaws, however. There are a couple things I found that I think hold the game back from being truly great. The first is the difficulty spikes. There are a couple of bosses in the game that are far too challenging. They aren’t unbeatable, but they’re far more difficult than I think they should be. A small tweak to some of the boss levels could help the game feel more balanced. The other is the controls. For the most part they’re great. I have one problem with them, and this may not be an issue for everyone, but I find it hard to get around. You have to push a button to flip the direction your ship is facing. In some games it works really well, but in a game like this I think having the ship face the direction you’re pressing on the analog stick makes more sense. I had the same issue with Graceful Explosion Machine, and I thought that game was fantastic. This isn’t a game breaker by any means, but I would at least like to have the option to either face the direction of the stick or map turning the ship to a button. In smaller, contained arena style games it makes more sense to me, but in a game like this where you’re in more open areas and exploring just have the ship turn to face the direction the ship is traveling in.
There are a few different shooters available now on the Switch and they all feel very different from each other. While they share many similar mechanics the visual styles, progression, and story bits to the games make them all feel different. If you like shooters you’ll want to check out Earth Atlantis. The difficulty spikes can lead to some frustration, but overall I found the game to be incredibly enjoyable. The visual style and story presentation make it standout from the rest of the games like it.
Review Copy provided by the developer
Played through the story a couple times
Total Play Time: 7 hours