Lock's Quest (Nintendo DS) Review

By Karn Spydar Lee Bianco 30.11.2008 8

Review for Lock

Developed by Drawn to Life creator 5TH Cell, Lock's Quest is a real-time strategy game for the Nintendo DS that expands upon and enhances the tower defence genre with a plethora of new features. While the simplest TD games allow the player to do little more than raise basic defences and click on the occasional foe, Lock's Quest allows for the construction of varied and complex defences, and also includes the option to take the fight to the enemy as Lock himself.

Lock's Quest takes place in a world rife with conflict between Lord Agony's mechanical Clockwork army and Kingdom Force. After his sister is kidnapped and his village attacked by Clockworks, an orphan named Lock sets out to become an Archineer (turret/defence builder) in support of Kingdom Force. Both sides require Source — the game's power source/currency — to strengthen their forces. Archineers can use Source to construct increasingly powerful defences, while Clockworks simply need it to remain operational. Battles are, therefore, often shaped around securing or defending Source Wells while fending off hordes of foes in the process. It's a simple enough premise, but the execution is more than deep enough to ensure that the game remains consistently enthralling.

Each battle is broken down into a series of rounds that begin with a brief Build Phase. During this time the player is free to place structures on the grid-based map — a process that is mostly intuitive, but occasionally hampered by irksome touch screen controls — without fear of being attacked. Structures consist of wall segments, turrets, traps, and helpers. Strategic placement of said structures is crucial to mounting a successful defence, but the multitude of options available ensure that you never have to rely on the same strategy twice. You could, for example, place a wealth of traps close to enemy spawn points in order to weaken foes before they get close, but you could just as easily dedicate your precious Source to building a tightly-knit turret layout closer to home. Whichever route you choose, though, you'll want to make sure you leave some paths open for Lock to pass through in the Battle Phase.

Screenshot for Lock's Quest on Nintendo DS

The Battle Phase places you in direct control of Lock, and allows you to explore the map at your leisure. With a gradually increasing selection of special abilities at his disposal, Lock is more than capable of holding his own against most enemy Clockworks, but he must also repair friendly structures. How much time is spent on either task is left entirely up to the player, and will depend on decisions made during the Build Phase. Certain helper structures can also be used to repair and beef up other structures over the course of the battle, making them somewhat self-sufficient. Even without these, however, an all-out attack strategy can work just as well as a cautionary, repair-focused one. Lock's Quest is extremely successful in this regard, allowing you tackle each battle in a variety of ways without unduly penalising you for it.

Furthermore, if you discover that a strategy isn't working particularly well on a certain map, you can rest easy knowing that a new Build Phase is never more than a couple of minutes away. Any deployed structures can be recycled and/or moved during a Build Phase, ensuring that it's always a breeze to try out new strategies. Heck, you can even choose to restart the entire battle from scratch at any time with no penalty. That's not to say that battles are without a sense of pressure, though. While setting up a perfect defence and gliding through a battle with ease is extremely satisfying, it can be even more rewarding to barely scrape through with only a handful of damaged turrets to your name as the countdown inches towards zero and the enemy pours on its final assault. The blend of simple-but-deep strategic options, lightweight combat action, and tense last second showdowns is handled wonderfully, and always keeps you coming back for more.

Although its main campaign should keep you busy for somewhere in the region of 20 hours, Lock's Quest also includes a couple of bonus features that help to improve its lifespan. The first is a fairly trivial affair, but it's not without its charm. In a direct throwback to classic tower defence games, a simple mini-game is included that will be extremely familiar to anyone who has wasted away an afternoon playing flash games such as Defend Your Castle. It's undeniably basic, but it's fun, and you can even use the Source you earn in upcoming battles. The second bonus feature is, in turn, far more comprehensive: Multiplayer takes everything from the core game and simply multiplies it by two. In addition to building structures, however, each player can also construct friendly Clockwork units. Unfortunately, being limited to local multi-card DS setups will likely restrict the mode's accessibility for many players.

Screenshot for Lock's Quest on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Despite a rather cutesy (albeit gorgeous) exterior, Lock's Quest offers a surprisingly deep real-time strategy experience. By splitting each battle into a series of brief Build and Battle Phases — both of which include a wealth of different options to ensure that no two battles ever need to be tackled in quite the same way — 5TH Cell has created a game with a pace that never lets up and a concept that never outstays its welcome. The lack of online multiplayer is unfortunate, but Lock's Quest is nevertheless a fantastic game, and one worthy of your attention.

Developer

5th Cell

Publisher

THQ

Genre

Strategy

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

I'm definitely going to get this one at some point. Downloaded the demo the other day, really a solid little game. Nice review! Smilie

Thoroughly enjoyed this game - far better than Drawn to Life, I reckon. It'll definitely be interesting to see what 5TH Cell comes up with next...

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

Do you know how well this one is selling, Adam? I know Drawn to Life was a huge success for them.

It'll definitely be interesting to see what 5TH Cell comes up with next...

Doesn't look like we're going to have to wait long: linky!


Cubed3 Staff [ Retro Editor :: Previews Editor ]

Funny you just added that, since I just stuck that news in the News Alerts! :-D Why not do a story and plug your review? ;-Smilie

Jacob4000 said:
Do you know how well this one is selling, Adam? I know Drawn to Life was a huge success for them.

Sadly it hasn't once entered the UK DS Top 50, which doesn't bode well :-( Maybe it's done better across the rest of Europe.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

Sounds neat, glad to know there's a lot more to the visual delight!

Sadly it hasn't once entered the UK DS Top 50, which doesn't bode well :-( Maybe it's done better across the rest of Europe.

Man, what's in the bloomin top 50?!

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

Imagine Teacher, Imagine Babysitting, Imagine Dream Wedding, Cooking Mama, Cooking Mama 2...rinse and repeat, plus throw in Nintendo stalwarts like BT, MBT and BBA Smilie

No FFIV, DQIV, Lock's Quest, FSR, etc. The situation for DS in the UK is somewhat of a lost cause if it's not 1.) A heavily-promoted Nintendo game, 2.) A casual piece of crap. Thankfully that's not the case for the whole of Europe, since DQIV has actually sold more in EU than in the US. And at least Jeremiah Slazcka told us LQ has done well for 5TH Cell...

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

I enjoyed this game a lot. Was quite surprised as I did not expect it to be such a solid title to play.

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