Lock’s Quest is a tower defense themed RPG by 5th Cell, the acclaimed developer behind the popular Scribblenauts series. This was their second game on the Nintendo DS, originally released back in 2008. Lock’s Quest made use of the dual screen of the Nintendo DS along with its touch screen to present a unique tower defense system where the player could also strategically participate in the battle. The visuals of the game were gorgeous with a 16-bit art style that evokes memory of the Final Fantasy Tactics series.
I have never managed to play the original Lock’s Quest so when I heard about the remaster, I was interested in checking it out since I was drawn in by the art style. The gameplay also reminded me of Dragon Quest Builders although that was a more focused action RPG. Lock’s Quest essentially offers tower defense gameplay that lets your build your defense before a battle starts, letting you make sure that the key objectives during each of the story mission remain protected from the enemies.
The story in Lock’s Quest focuses on the life of the titular character, Lock, who lives in a small seaside village along with his family. The main villain is a crazy Lord Agony who has his army of mechanical soldiers called Clockwork that he uses to rule the world by claiming Source, an element which powers everything in the world. His plans are thwarted midway as Lock’s village gets attacked by the Clockwork soldiers leading to him exacting his revenge on Lord Agony. There is not much to do here in term of story and it is fairly basic way of presenting a fight between good and evil.
The meat of the game is its tower defense mechanics that let you place objects to defend a place of interest from the enemy invasion. You start with basic objects like a simple turret, wood, walls and then as you progress further in the game, you will unlock more advanced type of weapons that can prove useful in battle. These require Source to be constructed which is an element that is rare in the game. You will have to make sure to keep enough source for the enemy invasion and properly setup your defense before each battle. Once the tower defense aspect ends, the second act begins where the game gives the player the controls allowing them to attack the enemies. The problem is that this combat is simply not fun with limited amount of combat moves and variety for the player. The camera controls here are wonky and the gameplay feels bland with basic form of attacks. The game doesn’t explain how to properly execute some combat moves letting you learn them on your own.
The other issue with the game is though that what worked well for the Nintendo’s dual screen handled with its touch controls doesn’t successfully translate to consoles. The controls for Lock’s Quest are painful and it becomes a chore to prepare the defense since object placement is awkwardly tied to the analog stick. If you want to put an object at a precise location, well good luck with it. Since the whole field is categorized in grids and each grid can only hold a set amount of object, you will need to carefully layout and place objects for your tower defense game and it can be simply a headache to do so through the controller.
When all that is said, the game can prove to be still fun in the beginning couple of missions as you slowly learn new mechanics and unlock advanced form of weapons however it easily gets repetitive the more time you spend with the game. The developers could have added more variety of maps or strategy to take down the enemies but the limited appeal and challenge for each map becomes more apparent as the story progresses, sucking all the fun out of it. Alas, it is a great idea but the execution of it leaves a lot to be desired. The game just doesn’t work on the big screen.
Lock’s Quest is set in a strange place because it is a remaster that was never needed yet it was released. Despite that, the game shows potential for what it was once when it was originally released although not all of it translates well to the big screen. The frustrating controls and camera during battle can prove to be a blemish on the overall quality of the game, not to mention the repetitive nature of the story missions don’t help much here.
Lock’s Quest Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Lock's Quest is a real-time strategy video game developed by 5th Cell and published by THQ. It is 5th Cell's second Nintendo DS game. It was re-released for the PC, PS4 and Xbox One in 2017.
Lock's Quest is a charming tower defense game with a strategic combat system. It features gorgeously animated 16-bit art style and offers plenty of challenge for those who love a good tower defense games. However despite being a remaster, it is not free from its issues.