Earthlock: Festival of Magic is a turn-based RPG that’s launching January 27 on PS4. While its foundations lie in the classic stylings of the genre, it’s been built to take advantage of modern trends and feel contemporary. Lead artist Fredrik Dahl from Snowcastle Games walked us through the juxtaposition of the Revered and the New that makes Earthlock an interesting proposition for RPG fans.
1.) It’s built by turn-based RPG fans, for fans.
“When we sat down and had a round table after we finished up our previous production, it quickly became clear that we all had fond memories of turn-based RPGs. When we set out making Earthlock, we missed those type of games, and believed that to be true for a lot of people that had grown up playing them.”
2.) Strategy is key to survival, not the grind.
“In the traditional turn-based RPG, I don’t think it’s a big secret that there’s a lot of grinding going on — to level up in order to beat a boss, for example. We’ve tried to limit that by focusing more on a tactical experience. Usually you can get through the bosses in Earthlock by choosing the right strategy, getting your talent board set up, and having the right character pairings. Getting wiped out is more often than not a case of having the wrong party setup.”
3.) Like all great RPGs, relationships matter.
“If you pair up two characters, their bond grows stronger as they do battle side by side, and this unlocks perks and passive abilities unique to that pair. So in addition to the Talent Board, the battle bonds are a great way of customizing the party depending on what kind of enemies the player is up against.”
4.) You can switch your character abilities at any time…
“Character-specific Talent Boards enable players to customize their characters on the fly throughout the game, enabling them to switch up their strategy depending on what kind of creatures or bosses they’re up against.”
5.) …as well as your party setup.
“We don’t use a progression tree, but rather a board where you can place talents that affect abilities and stats. This board can be rearranged at any point, so the player is free to balance their team in any way they want. We’ve been playing around with a lot of different character builds in house, so the game is playable in a bunch of different ways.”
6.) It’s adding a new take on item farming.
“One of the earlier ideas that stuck through the whole thing was that we thought it’d be fun to grow your own ammo by growing and harvesting plants. We don’t think we’ve seen that anywhere before, and it ended up being a pretty addictive gameplay aspect.”
7.) The customizable combat system keeps you front and center in the battle, not buried in menus.
“In older games, the player often deals with menus nested in menus nested in menus. We wanted to have a more minimal UI during combat. So the player sets up the abilities they want to bring into combat mapped to the controller buttons. They have two pages of these button-mapped abilities making anything in combat less cumbersome to utilize. There’s no delay between an enemy finishing its action and the player being able to use his next ability either, so the combat flow feels pretty streamlined.”
8.) One character’s traded in a trip to the dentist for a life of fantasy adventure.
“We carried over one of our main cast, Gnart, from our previous title, Hogworld: Gnart’s Adventure, that was tailored for a younger market. There his biggest concern was making friends and getting to the dentist because he had a tusk that was hurting! Now he lives in the perilous world of Umbra in Earthlock, working as a librarian. He grew up visually during the transition, going from a striped sweater to a much more stylish coat and tie. He kept his backpack though, which is always good to keep books and journals of his travels in!”