You have to hand it to game developers who bring back long-lost hidden gems. As a DS classic from almost a decade ago, Lock's Quest is now available for modern consoles so let's see how it fares on the big screen.
Lock's Quest poses an intriguing gameplay premise. Basically, you partake in a series of battles that are divided into two phases. During the first, you'll build up defenses as you would in a tower defense game. Once you're prepared, you'll enter the combat phase where you'll battle enemy robots for a certain period of time. If you bite the dust or an installation that you're supposed to protect becomes destroyed then it's game over and you can choose to try again at either the building or combat phases. The battles are fought by having your turrets and traps automatically fend off the encroaching bots as you run around fixing damaged defenses and fighting them one-on-one. Both of these actions involve little mini-games in order to give Lock slight boosts. Overall, this gameplay dynamic is rewarding, enjoyable, and surprisingly easy to learn.
When it comes to graphics, the pixel-filled world of Lock's Quest is simply beautiful. The amount of detail in both the battlefields and towns is exceptional and it makes the journey all the more enjoyable as a result. The character portraits don't match this pixelated style but they provide some personality to the equation. The audio is full of fantastic uplifting orchestral music and satisfying sound effects. That being said, the effects can become chaotic quick when there is a lot going on at once. In the end, the vibrant visuals and well-done audio make Lock's Quest a rather immersive experience that'll keep you hooked.
The entire campaign in Lock's Quest will likely take you over a dozen hours to complete which is somewhat lengthy for this kind of game. Thankfully, it stays interesting throughout by providing you with new kinds of defenses and abilities as well as regularly introducing more varieties of enemies. On the other hand, I'm kind of disappointed in the lack of character progression. Lock doesn't have any base stats to improve and doesn't level up either so the campaign is less rewarding than it could be. Instead, you're dealt predefined arrays of objects that you can implement for each battle. Sure, figuring out how to best utilize them is a rewarding challenge but I would have loved to see Lock grow throughout the adventure and turn into a more capable fighter.
Finally, this new iteration of Lock's Quest includes many technical problems that make it simply feel unpolished. Whenever there are too many foes onscreen, the frame rate can drop to an unplayable degree. I also got stuck at a few points and witnessed enemies becoming stuck, too, as they spun around on the spot for no understandable reason. In addition to all this, the controls and camera can be very problematic. When engaging an enemy, it takes a while for the mini-game to pop up thus allowing you to easily mess up quick-time events by pushing an incorrect button prematurely. The camera seems to get stuck in position as well. Apparently, there is a button to reset it but I couldn't get it to work so instead, I had to move the camera manually which took focus away from the combat.
Lock's Quest is definitely a game worthy of bringing back from obscurity but this version contains performance issues that frequently make it tough to enjoy. However, if you overlook these parts then it can be one fulfilling blend of gameplay elements.
- + Rewarding mix of tower defense strategy and action RPG combat
- + Beautiful pixel-filled visuals
- + Lengthy campaign that stays interesting
- - Many performance issues and glitches frequently pop up
- - Controls and camera can be problematic
- - Not much character progression