- System: PC, Playstation 4, Xbox One
- Publisher: THQ Nordic
- Developer: Digital Continue
- Release Date: 31th May 2017 [Steam]
- Price:$14.99 [Steam]
- Rating: E for Everyone
- Genre: Tower Defense, RPG, Strategy
- Players: Single Player
- Official Website: https://www.thqnordic.com/games/locks-quest
Who it Caters to
Although obviously catering to players of the original game, with such a broad release Lock's Quest seems to be hoping to widen its appeal to more than just portable console fans and nostalgia junkies. With a reasonable, but not overly long, story, and an additional Endless Mode for added replayability, Lock's Quest could be a great pickup for those of you who are into indie games, or who just want a break from larger AAA titles.
What to Expect
The big differences between the Nintendo DS version and this remaster are the graphics and sound. Whilst the game retains its charming pixel art style, for the most part, the menus and character art have been given the high definition treatment, along with the soundtrack being remastered. In terms of feature differences between the new version and the original, there has been something of a trade-off: the multiplayer options have disappeared completely, but the game has gained an Endless Mode to really test your abilities.
Whilst the story isn't the most complex one you'll come across this year, combined with the fairly traditional fantasy setting it has a charm to it that makes you want to keep playing and find out what happens next. It also advances at a relatively fast pace, so you're unlikely to find yourself sighing as you click through speech bubbles, and there are enough little sub-plots and unanswered questions to provide some depth. As a side, although the characters feel a kind of simple and two dimensional at times, there are a couple we really warmed to, and the villains are evil in an almost comical way at times. Honestly, we were surprised by how quickly we went from "Eh, another generic fantasy story" to "I need to know why the weird blue munchkin is important!"
Mechanics and Controls
One thing that stood out to us as odd though, was the walls you can build. Walls reinforce the defense of turrets next to them and are fairly cheap, but we often found ourselves thinking "why would I build a wall when I could just put another tower down?" You see, the tower placement works on a grid system, and enemies just run up and hit whatever they see first, so in a majority of levels, you'll find yourself just building a line of towers, and defending that line. Lock can run around in front of the towers to draw enemy fire, and effectively you can complete most of the game with this same simple tactic: build a line of towers, hit stuff in front of towers. On top of that, unlike turrets, walls don't have health bars, so it's a pain constantly checking to see if they need repair. So we'll say that while the tower defense mechanics are alright, it feels like sacrifices have been made so as to give Lock's combat elements some purpose.
On to Lock's combat now, and we'll start by saying one thing: use a controller, we'll explain why in a moment. Lock has an auto-attack which you initiate by running up to enemies and pressing X, and your Special Attack, which requires you to hit a series of buttons in the correct order or drag some sliders to do extra damage or heal. You also have a Super Ability, which charges as you fight, that you can unleash to perform feats such as damaging or slowing down every enemy on the map. Although fairly simple, the combat is actually the most addictive part of the game, and we found that nailing the button sequences stated the Guitar Hero addict that still lives inside us. As we mentioned before though: please use a controller. The combat mechanics on a mouse and keyboard are clunky, to say the least, and actually, make the game considerably harder.
Now speaking of the controls, let's talk about those for a minute. Converting the controls of a DS game to a mouse and keyboard, or even a controller, is no easy task. While a mouse can kind of simulate the touch screen, and makes building your defenses easy, clicking Lock's combos with any amount of speed or dexterity is simply impossible, or at least incomparable to using a controller or touch screen. On the flip side using the controller is much smooth when it comes to the combat, and building your defenses is still reasonably easy, but having to control both Lock and the camera separately on larger maps is a pain, and you'll often find yourself getting caught on sticks and stones whenever you turn your attention away from the not-so-nimble hero.
Our last point regarding the game's mechanics is the stark lack of any tutorials or help throughout the story. Now if you've played Lock's Quest before on the DS, you have no need to worry, the remastered game functions in the same was as before so you're unlikely to have any trouble. If you're new to the game, however, check the controls in the options before you hit New Game, because it won't tell you what 90% of them are once you're in. As far as we could tell, there is no explanation as to your Special Attacks or Super Abilities either, and we had to faff about a bit to work out how they actually work. Lastly, the towers have no range or line of sight indicators on, or even any explanation of their defense or damage values. How far do your support towers reach? Who knows. Is the range on your acid bomb turret enough? Maybe. We got to Day 50 and realised each new map was about half guess work and half hoping that doing the same thing we did before would work again.
Art and Sound
The "Build" music is now stuck in our heads and will be for the foreseeable future. The remastered soundtrack is certainly better than what you'd expect from a DS game, yet retains that handheld, digital sound that gets caught between your ears and is both pleasant and never ending. The sound effects feel like they weren't given quite as much of a polish but certainly aren't something we'd complain about. In general, we'd say that the sound for Lock's Quest is exactly what you'd hope for from a remaster.
The challenge of the game is sure to add to your playtime as well, with the beginning being pretty rough and the introduction of gradually harder and unique enemies forcing you to change up your tactics, even if just a little. The difficulty curve is such that by the time you finish normal mode you'll feel fully prepared to take on hard, potentially offering up another challenge for those who are thirsty for more.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
As for what we weren't big fans of, the standout problem remains the controls. Using a controller is okay, though the movement feels a little awkward, using a mouse and keyboard is a pretty horrendous experience. The lack of help or instruction throughout the game was also disappointing: one good example is when we accidentally clicked past a support turret explanation screen, and there seemed to be absolutely no way for us to check what the turret actually does afterward. We're still not sure what it does now.
- Very addictive gameplay.
- Pixel art is very cute.
- Surprisingly challenging.
- Keyboard + Mouse controls desperately need tweaking
- Lack of tutorials means you don't even get an explanation of the controls, let alone how to use special abilities, etc.
- High definition art and text look out of place.
- Some odd, minor bugs.
Honey's Final Verdict:
So, what did you think of our review? Have you had the chance to play Lock's Quest remaster, or even the DS original yourself? We'd love to hear what you think, so why not leave us a comment down below!