Lock’s Quest, originally released on the Nintendo DS back in 2008, comes back for another turn on modern day console. Well known and much loved for blending together tower defence gameplay with RPG elements and action, it’s a game that made quite the impression upon initial release, but how does it stand as a remaster? Sadly, it doesn’t stand well at all. Obviously being released first on the DS meant that the game was built with touch-control in mind, but the transition from touch-control to standard pad-control just doesn’t seem to fit. In fact if anything, it makes a once great game feel awkward, frustrating, and unsatisfying.
Placing objects such as barriers and turrets feels slow and drawn-out, and for a game that relies heavily on a building system, this is a major flaw that simply cannot be overlooked throughout the entirety of play, and this is only the beginning. The camera is the next target of criticism, being that it doesn’t seem to lock onto Lock (heh, say that ten times, fast). This leads to Lock being held off-screen until you hit a button to realign the camera, and worse, you have to do this at times when the levels become chaotic, it’s just a mess. If that wasn’t enough to pull the game down, the bugs that are present throughout will surely get the job done. Thankfully, the game doesn’t suffer from any frame-rate issues, but when you’re greeted with a bug that has you getting trapped in the environment, it’s hard to appreciate the experience.
The story on the other hand, is fantastic. The game takes place in a kingdom that utilises a mysterious substance known as Source. The Archineers have studied the Source to better understand how it works, with the greatest Archineer being known as Agonius. This chap manages to find out how to emulate life using Source, and goes on to do just that. The King on the other hand is against this, seeing it as dangerous and risky, and eventually demands that Agonius stops his study and practice.
After refusing the Kinds demands, Agonius is banished, to which he vows vengeance upon the King. Returning some time later under the name of Lord Agony, along with a clockwork army by his side, a war rages on that results in mass loss of life on both sides. Two Archineers from the Kingdom (Jacob and Kenan) infiltrate Lord Agony’s fortress, but the following events are not disclosed to the audience. All that you are told is that Kenan survived and is considered a hero, and appointed as Chief Archineer, whereas Jacob is MIA.
Several years later you’re introduced to Lock, and after a new attack from Lord Agony with a fresh batch of clockwork enemies, Lock signs up to be an Archineer, and thus your journey begins. The story is well set and very interesting, if at times predictable. I’m actually surprised that the developers chose to remaster this game, because the foundations that are set in Lock’s Quest could easily be built upon in a sequel or prequel. Maybe that’s why they’ve reintroduced the game to a fresh audience? Who knows!
Gameplay typically consists of tower defence, being that you must balance the line of offence and defence to ensure your victory. At the start of each map you are gifted with a set amount of Source, which is used to purchase items and objects. Structures are made of wood at first and your turrets are pretty basic too, but as you make your way deeper into the experience, you’ll unlock new tougher and more robust equipment to keep on pace with the difficulty curve, which I have to admit is considerably well struck. Turrets range from single directional firing turrets, to turrets that can slow down foes, fire in multiple directions, and so on and so fourth. You can indeed also lay down traps and send out allies to take the enemy head-on. There’s certainly no shortage of tools at your disposal, that’s for sure.
As expected, you do need to manage your Source wisely, but Lock can gain more Source from fallen enemies to rebuild or mend structures, so there’s a balance to lean on. That’s not to say that you can grab the popcorn and watch the action unfold, nope, you’ll need to take control of Lock and hand out a can of whoop-ass. This isn’t all that difficult to get to grips with, but if you want to stay on top of the game, it’s something you will need to accomplish. Most of what Lock can do is fairly straight forward, and you’ll unlock more skills as you make your way through the game.
Outside of the new Defence Mode, there really isn’t that much that’s changed about this game, aside from the aforementioned issues and a wider screen that helps you to see more than you could on the original. Defence Mode is not so dissimilar to your bog standard endless modes that you see in other games of this type. The aim of the mode is to make your way through hordes of enemies to see how far you can get. It’s quite an addictive feature, but hardly a scratch on the campaign, despite its faults. Is the overall package worth the asking price? Maybe for those that enjoy the original, but even then I doubt players will appreciate the poor transition from touch-screen to controller.
Irrespective of the interesting story and the well set gameplay and mechanics, Lock’s Quest just doesn’t feel suited for console. It’s clearly better as a game that can be enjoyed on touch-device, which is a prime example as to why Microsoft need to include their mobile market in the Xbox Play Anywhere program. Nevertheless, fans of the original may enjoy this for what it is. The shame however is that it will likely dampen their fondness of the original due to the bugs that are present throughout. The inclusion of a Defence Mode and a wider screen perception, doesn’t help to push this to new heights. Don’t get me wrong, there’s enjoyment to be had, but only in short bursts.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.