Addle Earth by Sunland Estudios de Entretenime
Addle Earth is an isometric action-adventure game that features a narrative weaving back and forth through time as it hops between three protagonists.
Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
The top-down action coupled with an ever-present audio narration is enough to all but ensure that Addle Earth’s inspirations are laid bare: iconic indie title Bastion‘s fingerprints are clear to see. Can Addle Earth take these influences and develop something unique?
The narrative of Addle Earth opens with a mystery; a girl called Kit has saved the world. An interviewer asks Kit about the events that led to this achievement, and she regales him with the details of her adventure. Very quickly, the game drops us into its top-down perspective, and we take control of Kit as she navigates a tree-top realm overrun with floating robotic enemies.
Addle Earth takes an irreverent tone with its narrative and seems very aware of its influences; less than a minute passes before Bastion is casually referenced in dialogue. I fear hanging a lantern over the imitation doesn’t quite do enough to help Addle Earth step from its inspiration’s shadow.
Much of the writing and humor in Addle Earth falls flat, but it is fair to say it does craft an unusual atmosphere for its world.
Addle Earth begins as a shooter; Kit’s abilities are built around the energy weapon she wields. Shots can be charged up for stronger blasts or fired rapidly for weaker enemies. Kit can also slide, an ability necessary for crossing structurally unsound areas without falling.
As the game progresses, we hop back in time to learn how Kit met two other characters: an ape called Che and an alien called Moses.
Che is a melee specialist and also has the ability to jump. Moses wields an energy sword and can phase through objects. All of these abilities are necessary to progress through Addle Earth and deal with the variety of robotic threats spread throughout it. I did, however, find that Kit’s ranged attacks tend to be more useful than the others.
The action of Addle Earth is somewhat hampered by certain design choices. Some levels rely on simply hurling a vast number of enemies at you all at once, and while this can be overcome fairly simply by evading the enemy and moving on, this doesn’t make for the most satisfying combat.
There are also a fair few glitches to be found; I was able to walk through several objects that were clearly intended to be solid, for example.
The aesthetics of Addle Earth are pleasing if a little flawed; the art style is distinct, and any single frame is visually appealing.
On the other hand, some of the enemy designs are a tad bland, and vertical sync issues seem to be a problem.
The music is, again, fairly characterful if a little lacking in impact. Altogether, Addle Earth manages to craft a personality of its own, even if it is sometimes flawed.
Addle Earth has clearly been built with love; its non-linear narrative is appealing, and the three main characters are all charming enough.
Unfortunately, the game does rely a little too heavily on emulating Bastion’s style of narration (even if it does so in homage) and there are enough niggling problems in the game’s design to give it a somewhat unfinished feel.
There are some noteworthy issues here, but if you’re looking for an isometric action game with an unusual atmosphere, then Addle Earth could be worth a look.
Addle Earth is available via Steam.
Check out the official trailer for Addle Earth below: