Space Dragons have attacked Earth and the only way for humanity to survive was to head up to space in ships. Two humans won’t stand for it though, and instead decide to free-fall from their ship, kill some Space Dragons, and eventually take out their leader in order to save Earth from their vicious grasp. It’s a brilliant concept, isn’t it? Well, that’s the tale behind Earth Night – the auto-runner from Cleaversoft that has recently hit the Nintendo Switch.
In a nutshell, EarthNight is an auto-runner that sees you free-falling from your ship down to Earth and landing on the Space Dragons you need to take out along the way. You’ll do your running on the backs of these Space Dragons, all whilst collecting loot, grabbing items to use, and avoiding or defeating any enemies that are on the prowl. You get a chance to vanquish the Space Dragon once you reach its head through a variety of different means – if you kill it, you’re rewarded with a Dragon Fang which can be used to purchase new and upgraded items for your subsequent runs.
It follows the same auto-runner format that’s seen in a lot of the games available in the genre, so the gameplay loop should be familiar to most. EarthNight does change things up by offering two characters with varying abilities to play as though: Stanley and Sydney. Both do a lot of running and jumping, whilst both also attack enemies by charging down on them. However, Stanley comes equipped with a long-jump and Sydney a double-jump, which means they can take different routes through levels and approach the hazards in their path in different ways. I personally preferred the double-jump of Sydney, but there were a few occasions where having Stanley’s long-jump would’ve been the difference between life and death on a run too, so it’s literally a case of going with whatever you prefer. With varying power-ups on offer for each character though, there’s certainly an incentive there to play around with both.
Taking down the Space Dragons isn’t easy, with the enemies you face throughout each run posing one heck of a threat. There are a ton of them to encounter too, so stringing together both jumps to avoid them and attacks to vanquish them can be a lot to deal with. You’re actually given a time limit to defeat a Space Dragon when you get to their head too, so if you’re not quick enough you’ll be launched off them and your hard work battling across their body would have been for nothing. There’s also perma-death, so if you do die, you start over… yeah, EarthNight can be pretty unforgiving, but the aforementioned items and upgrades you unlock can make each subsequent attempt all the more easier.
My problem with EarthNight was that I just found myself getting bored after a few hours of playing. I like to be a bit more involved with my platformers, and whilst I do appreciate that this is meant to be an auto-runner, I just found that I was doing the same things over and over without having to think too much. You’re essentially just waiting for the right moments to jump and that wasn’t enough to inspire me to want to keep playing.
If you are successful, runs through the game are short, so it’s not exactly the meatiest of experiences either with little incentive to keep trying. It wouldn’t have been a big problem if the game was free or cheap like most of its mobile phone-based alternatives, but at £12.59 it feels a little expensive for what’s on offer. I have no doubt that die-hard fans of auto-runners will enjoy the game and I really adored the concept of taking down Space Dragons, but I just needed a bit more variety and excitement to get invested into it.
One thing that EarthNight has in spades though is style, with the vibrant hand-painted visuals looking impressive throughout. I was constantly impressed with the whole look of the game and it certainly made scaling each Space Dragon’s back feel all the more engrossing. The music is absolutely on point too, with the variety of pieces on offer all fitting the action of the game perfectly. I won’t deny that EarthNight’s gameplay could get repetitive, but the brilliant visuals and soundtrack never stopped impressing me.
There’s no doubting that EarthNight is incredibly stylish and full of personality, but the auto-running gameplay saw me getting bored of it after just a few hours play. It also doesn’t take that long to clear a run when you are successful, so there wasn’t a whole lot to keep me coming back for more after that anyway.
It’s certainly not a bad game and I did enjoy the spectacle of taking down the game’s Space Dragons, but EarthNight’s gameplay loop didn’t offer enough to keep me hooked in.
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, PC