Some games need elaborate story lines, mechanics, and end game content to be good. And then there are games like EarthNight, who are perfect in their simple set up and style. From developer and publisher Cleaversoft, we have an artistically beautiful 2d platformer that takes place after a dragon apocalypse. It has the feel of the arcade games of our past married with the technology of our future.
Set in a future where space dragons exist (a future I really want to happen now) we are forced into space on ships. Stanley and Sidney are tasked with descending down to Earth in order to help rebuild and set things straight. Each run starts in space, where we run into space dragons and must traverse across their back, avoiding enemies and collecting random knick knacks to help fuel the ship. There are five layers players will traverse through before landing back on solid ground. It is such a simple story, however EarthNight helps build a world we care about and want to continue playing to see how it all plays out.
While EarthNight is simple, it does not mean that it is easy. The simple way to describe the mechanics are, skydive your way through the layers until you run into a space dragon. Once you have found one run along their back, collecting dragon eggs, items, and jumping to avoid enemies. Once you hit the end, use your special ability to slay the space dragon and move on. Rinse and repeat. The closer to Earth you get, the harder each encounter becomes.
Now the more detailed explanation, each character, Sidney and Stanley, have their own abilities. Sidney features a double jump ability as well as a slam down and glide. Stanley features a single jump and a long jump ability as well as the use of his sword during the final battle against a space dragon. I suggest finding what game style you like most and continue with that character. Personally I have played more Sidney thanks to her double jump ability.
As you progress and collect items from each run and slaying space dragons, you will unlock the store. Here you can unlock special items that will add and change your base abilities. You can also spend items to upgrade your space tank in order to hold more water, converted from the random items you pick up from the back of space dragons. These changes, on top of the randomization of each run, makes EarthNight fun to continue to play for multiple hours.
What really made me fall in love with EarthNight was their art style. Every one of the 10,000 plus frames were painted by artist Mattahan and animated to bring the game to life. The simple art style matches beautifully to the world Cleaversoft has created for us. Not to mention the character designs and in game animations are on point. The other side of the art direction is the audio and music we get to listen to on our dive back to Earth. The soundtrack features over 20 songs written and performed by chiptune musician Chipocrite. Normally I turn the audio of these types of games down and replace it with a podcast or show, however I couldn’t pull myself away.
EarthNight has become one of my must play games when I am traveling or trying to fill some free time. It is very easy to pick up the game for a short bit and come back to it later and still know exactly what is going on. I also find myself constantly trying to beat my previous score and sometimes even try to hit Earth without hitting any space dragons just to test my skydiving skills. My only two wishes, are that we have a bit more direction in the beginning about the store and more playable characters. For the store, you only know it is really there after you have slain your first space dragon and even then it still leaves your questioning what you need to do. As far as more characters, it would be great to have another character to swap in between.
Other than those two things, this game is terrific. I highly recommend picking it up and adding it to your collection. EarthNight is available currently on Apple Arcade, and will release on December 3, 2019 on PS4, PC through Steam, and the Nintendo Switch.