Earth Atlantis (Switch Review) – Choppy seas

Earth Atlantis is a side-scrolling shooter that has you hunt fearsome, mechanical monsters in a dreary, post-apocalyptic underwater world. Machines have adopted the forms of marine animals, and the ocean is full of these deadly hybrids. Unlock submarines with unique weapons and abilities to challenge the game in Quest and Hunter mode. There are four playable ships, with only one unlocked at the beginning.

In Quest mode, you go around hunting monsters stationed at different parts of the map. Despite the gorgeous art style, exploration isn’t one of the main points of the game. It’s quite unfortunate as I would have liked to experience exploring uncharted waters. Hunter mode is unlocked once you complete Quest mode. It’s a ‘time attack’ mode where you have to kill random monsters. I didn’t play much of this mode since it felt too repetitive, but if you like this style of gameplay, then you’d probably enjoy it.

I found both modes lackluster. The only hint of a story is the opening lines of text you’re shown when you start a mode. That wouldn’t be a big deal if I were given enough to feel occupied, but the time I spent going from Monster A to B is mind-numbingly dull. Tinier, less intimidating monsters swarm you as you swim around, but it feels like filler and I wasn’t particularly engaged. Battling against boss monsters feels excellent, but the build-up to reach them isn’t worth it.

One of the game’s selling points is its unique and artistic ‘Old Sketching’ visual style. The art, coupled with the idea of exploring a dangerous, uncompromising sea, remains a draw few people can resist. It’s partly why I bought the game, after all. But there’s a drawback to the limited palette. Submarine and monster designs are visibly detailed, but because enemies, background objects, and bullets have the same beige color, it’s hard to tell them apart.

I got attacked or hurt when I least expected it because I never spotted the enemy settled between a crevice or hanging from a wall. It can get annoying, especially when you’re trying to dodge attacks. The last thing on my mind while avoiding a spray of bullets is to scope out my surroundings carefully. Still, this aspect is a minor inconvenience rather than a devastating drawback. Overall, environments are beautiful to look at, from the vague mossy outlines of the seabed to the gentle swaying seaweed dotting rocky surfaces.

Unfortunately, Earth Atlantis let me down with its gameplay. The biggest problem I had with the game was the rigid control scheme and mushy bullets. The first thing I noticed when I start playing was how boring fights were. I shoot at an enemy and get visual feedback in the form of it exploding. But the lack of sound effects completely deadens the experience.

I hold down a button to fire at a swarm of creatures, but feel like I’m watching paint dry. Getting power-ups and increasing the number of bullets my submarine can fire doesn’t change anything. Even when using missiles, fights still lacks impact. The bullets lack weight. To make things worse, the music in the background plays in a loop, making everything seem so dreary and repetitive.

Finally coming across a boss monster is a stark relief. It breaks up the monotony, each boss monster with their own music, giving you a chance to actually get play the game instead of just holding down a button. Sadly, after you beat a boss, you’re back to blankly swimming through another area for the next target.

If you’re looking for a good side-scrolling shooter, I can’t recommend Earth Atlantis. If you’re morbidly curious about the game or have money to burn, then by all means, take the leap to see if you’d enjoy it.