Earth’s Dawn Review – Amazing Combo of Contra Meets Devil May Cry

Earth’s Dawn Review

I found out about Earth’s Dawn in a message from a friend saying that the game was “being hailed as better than Odin Sphere!” Well if you look check out my Odin Sphere review you can see that I gave it a 9.7 and said it was (and remains) my likely Game of the Year. So how is this “similar to Odin Sphere” game, from a first-time developer I’ve never heard of? It’s awesome.

Earth is being invaded by aliens and humankind must gather into one government to battle this threat. Bio-weaponry has been developed by the world’s combined governments as our first line of defense. You are a soldier on the ground level of the United States Of America, where everyone speaks Japanese and is either a genius or a badass. On paper, it’s a generic story but as the game goes on it serves to be just interesting enough to make it give the player some extra drive.

After a very short, simple character creation session, the player goes on their first few missions clearing aliens out of New York. Over time, the player gains more abilities, but in the beginning, it’s sword swinging, gun firing, jumping, and dashing. Think Contra meets Devil May Cry, with the visual aesthetics of a Vanillaware game (like the aforementioned Odin Sphere).

After the first few missions, the game hits its stride. Between missions, players use collected materials to build and enhance weapons and use gathered energy to equip Skills. Skills range from stat enhancers to new attack moves. The interfaces are all clear and look great. The Skill menu, for example, places skills of different types in different areas along a spine, which gives the impression that different areas of the body, or bio-suit, are responsible for different abilities. Nice touches like this really enhance the biotech alien world the game creates.


“On paper, it’s a generic story but as the game goes on it serves to be just interesting enough to make it give the player some extra drive.”

After completing a set of story missions, the player is able to choose from lots of side missions. One of the game’s most unique features is that instead of choosing when to do story missions, and when to do side missions, a gigantic countdown to the next mission deployment is displayed at the top of the screen. This limits the number of sidequests which can be completed before the next story mission (although ultimately there is tons of time for sidequests). If a player fails the story mission (and the difficulty ramps early!), they get to go back to sidequests to gain more experience, materials, and energy. Side missions all have rewards that the player can see, so if they need a specific material, or would like a particular skill gain, they know which quests to prioritize. And lots of sidequests have extra bonuses for repeat plays.

Visually, Earth’s Dawn is absolutely emulating Vanillaware games (Odin Sphere, Dragon’s Crown, Muramasa, and GrimGrimoire). Is has a beautiful painted anime art style, which looks gorgeous, but can be a little jarring against its space marine backdrop. Its monster design is also awesome. I got excited before every boss battle because they were always so gigantic and interesting.

Earth's Dawn Top Screen

The music is forgettable, but it always suits the game’s mood. It didn’t ever stand out to me in a good or bad way. The voice acting is all in Japanese, which normally I’m fine with, except Earth’s Dawn’s characters are 99% American. It’s not a problem, just something worth noting.

Earth’s Dawn is a great game. If you’re at all a fan of 2D beat-em-ups, 2D shoot-em-ups, or action RPGs, I highly suggest you play it. It’s so good that I actually had to constantly remind myself that this was only a $30 purchase. There is easily enough quality and content to justify a full $60 purchase, but hopefully, this lower price tag means Earth’s Dawn will reach a wider audience. Congratulations on a fantastic first title, oneoreight.

*** PS4 copy provided by the publisher ***

The Good

  • Great mix of 2D action with RPG elements
  • Gorgeous 2D art style
  • Lots of content for only $30

The Bad

  • Only for fans of 2D action games
  • Could feel repetitive
  • Music is bland