You know how only a small portion of a bag of chips actually contains any substance? Earth’s Dawn is kinda like that.
The story begins fifteen years after an alien species known as the E.B.E. nearly wipes out the entire planet. You play as a meathead super soldier that incorporates alien technology into your weapons and armor, thus leveling the playing field in the fight to reclaim Earth.
The game’s 2D side-scrolling combat involves a combination of shooting and sword-swinging to take down your enemies. Combos are easy enough to pull off and end with a satisfying finisher when your foe is low on health. Bosses were especially fun and surprisingly challenging. You’ll need good memorization skills and quick fingers to eliminate your toughest opponents.
You can also craft weapons and customize your abilities with an RPG-style skill tree. With five different weapons classes and five different play styles, it’s very easy to tailor your character to suit your playstyle.
Unfortunately, several aspects of Earth’s Dawn feel lazy. Finishing moves were only animated for two out of the five weapon classes. E.g., if you’re carrying a two-handed sword and attempt a finisher, your character will switch to a gun and sword combo before executing the attack. Also, the same noise is used for every fighting action in the game. Bullets sound like sword strikes, and both occur with such irritating frequency that I muted the game within the first hour of playing.
Worse yet, the laziness extends into the game design itself. Earth’s Dawn boasts 100 different missions, though most of them boil down to killing X enemy at Y location. You’ll even repeat boss battles, often at the same place as the original fight. Levels are also relatively small, devoid of obstacles, and annoyingly scarce. I remember being particularly frustrated seven hours into the game when I could only access three different levels.
Ultimately I feel like Earth’s Dawn could have accomplished everything it set out to do in about half of the time it actually took to complete the game. The same amount of hours it took to shovel in another generic cutscene and another boring mission could have been used to refine the existing story and build levels worth playing. But as it stands, $30 is a lot to ask for the gaming equivalent of a bag of chips.