Developer: LABS Works
Publisher: Dangen Entertainment
Platforms: NS, PC, PS4, XBO
Version Played: Switch
Astalon: Tears of the Earth is a very interesting Metroidvania. It might look like the spiritual successor to an old Falcom game, like Legacy of the Wizard or Knightmare, but it's something more like Symphony of the Night but with a lot of NES game influence. It has a lot of Mega Man style platforming, Zelda-like key hunting, and a sort of Metroid-like way of not telling you things sometimes. It’s a great combination of elements that makes for a pretty fresh take on the Metroidvania.
The biggest thing that sets Astalon apart from the average Metroidvania is that you play as a party of characters. You start with a Mage, Rogue, and Warrior. Each character has unique abilities, so you constantly have to switch between them to progress. For example, only the Rogue can wall jump, so she's the only one who can reach higher platforms. You can't switch characters with the press of a button until the latter half of the game, though. You have to go to a bonfire (save room) to switch. A lot of Astalon’s gameplay revolves around simply opening paths for the rest of your characters to be able to access new areas. I thought that maybe the game would lose something when I got the ability to switch characters on the fly, but it ended up feeling more like the developers were free to do even more interesting and challenging things with the level design then.
non-chiptune version, which is even better than what's in the game. You can find both versions on Spotify.
Astalon is one of the best indie Metroidvanias I've played in a while. I love the party system, I was very intrigued by its lore, and I think the platforming-heavy, key finding, and switch pushing style of level design makes the game feel different from most games in the genre. I can't wait to see what's next for this series. It'll probably be a long time before we get a sequel, since their next big game will be Castle in the Darkness 2, but I know they already announced a small Game Boy style prequel called Astalon: The Crystal Sword, and I'm really looking forward to that.