When it comes to remasters, a game like Lock’s Quest would be quite near the bottom of the list. It’s a 2008 Nintendo DS exclusive and it didn’t seem to make much of a splash, however it did offer a little twist on the tower defence genre by mixing in some RPG elements. Even in its remastered form, Lock’s Quest feels like a game perfect for portable and touch control gaming, but on console it can be a little cumbersome.
The story sees the return of Lord Agony and his Clockwork army as they look to control the world’s Source, an element used to power everything. Lock is just a teenager in a little village building sea defences when his world is changed by a Clockwork attack. Soon he finds himself in the ranks of the Archineers, a unit that specialises in constructing defences to protect areas against the enemy. It’s actually quite an interesting premise and the lines of good and evil aren’t as distinct as you’d think.
The most prominent side of the game is in the tower defence. At the beginning of each map you are allocated some Source which is used to purchase different tower and wall types. Early on these structures are made of wood, and come with a standard one directional turret. As you progress, more tower types are unlocked that might fire acid to deal damage over time, glue to slow enemies down, shoot in multiple directions, and helper towers that can detect hidden enemies or increase turret range. There are also traps that can be placed that have similar effects to the turrets, and in some instances you can even deploy a couple of soldiers.
The Source does have to be managed though, as some defences may have to last a few in game days. As you destroy Clockworks, Lock can harvest Source from them that can be used to fix defences or build new ones after a level has concluded. The more Clockworks destroyed, the more Source you have, but relying on the towers alone to generate your much needed income will see you in trouble quick. Instead you have to take control of Lock to fight against Agony’s army.
This is where things get a bit choppy to say the least, and the main gripe is the camera. The camera doesn’t lock onto Lock properly, which means he can run off the screen, leaving you to hit a button to recentre the camera on him. At other times you just have to move the camera manually while trying to juggle everything else, and levels can quickly become overwhelming. In one level I had to capture a couple of points while protecting another, but you could only see one of these points any time, meaning you’re moving the camera back and forth, taking you right out of the action. There are also times when turrets aren’t firing despite enemies being within range.
Sometimes Lock will have to be manoeuvred behind a structure for protection, leaving a shadowy outline to show where he is. What isn’t given a shadowy outline are any obstacles on the ground that Lock can’t run past, and there were a number of times while playing that Lock would get stuck.
Lock has different abilities to use in combat, some of which are pretty self explanatory, like pressing the correct buttons or spinning the analogue stick in a certain direction. As you progress you’re given more talents, each with their own input style, but they’re not being explained well at all. It takes guesswork to discover how the game expects you to pull off a move following a prompt.
Despite having a number of flaws, the main problem is that Lock’s Quest can become dull and repetitive. Sure, the map layouts and styles change and new enemy types and turrets are added too, and things feel fresh in the first levels, but it’s not enough. When you’re hitting day 40 and the new enemy or turret is just a slightly stronger version of something you’ve seen before, it gets boring. The majority of levels can also be beaten using similar tactics throughout, which in my case was build a wall of guns protecting the item that needed protecting and watch as the clockworks got slaughtered.
It’s a shame, as Lock’s Quest has a decent cast of characters, a good soundtrack, and the artwork looks nicely done too. There’s quite a bit of quality in those areas, but the gameplay lets it down, and while it wasn’t a huge hit nine years ago, I have seen it got a favourable reception back then. Now, it feels this port of that DS game doesn’t quite stand up to what came before.
I wanted to like Lock’s Quest. For a fan of strategy, RPG, and puzzles Lock’s Quest could have been one of those titles that brought the three together properly. Nine years ago on the DS, it probably did it fairly well, but this port has a number of issues that could do with addressing. The camera and lack of explanation for your abilities are the most glaring ones, and once you settle into a tactical groove early on, things soon become dull. Lock’s Quest is a game that had potential, but it feels squandered.
Version tested: PS4