One of my favorite features of the RPG genre is the strategy that goes into choosing and developing the characters on your team. Maintaining a strong party composition that gives you an edge against your opponents is a key piece of many roleplaying games, and Earthlock by Snowcastle Games is no exception. This RPG features a cast of six characters each with two different combat stances, lots of possible talents, and potential for interesting combos. The goal of this guide is to discuss each of those characters in detail to share their strengths and weaknesses, as well as recommending how to make the most of them in combination with the other party members.
I’ll be discussing the characters in the order that they are unlocked as party members (not counting the tutorial), so I’ll start with Amon and then work my way through the rest of the cast. This guide will contain character spoilers as well as mechanical spoilers for various abilities in the game, but I’ll be keeping story spoilers to a bare minimum. I recommend using this guide in conjunction with my Earthlock beginner’s guide, which goes into more detail about specific mechanisms and gameplay suggestions while this guide focuses primarily on character abilities and bonds.
I really enjoy when games have a thief protagonist rather than the typical warrior or magician. Amon is a scavenger who has an unusual gift when it comes to machinery. As a party member, he has a balanced set of stances which allows him to either focus on melee or ranged combat. In his Thief stance, Amon attacks with his dagger, steals items, and has a few buffs or debuffs he can inflict. In his Blaster stance, the scavenger fires his potato-blaster at enemies to deal explosive and elemental damage.
Thief stance is my preferred stance for Amon as I enjoy using his Steal ability in combat. Steal deals some light damage while also taking money and items from the opponent. Generally these items are those used for crafting, but occasionally I’ve managed to swipe healing items as well. Later in the game, Steal can be accompanied by or replaced with Mug, which deals more damage and also inflicts the stunned status on enemies. I frequently use Mug to lessen the number of enemies who are active at once, stunning enemies and then leaving them alone to take out the other members of their party. Amon’s basic attack is a Stab which deals physical piercing damage. It’s a decently strong attack but dealing damage is rarely going to be Amon’s primary role in the party.
Let’s talk a bit about the support abilities Amon can use in Thief stance. The earliest ones he gains access to are Adrenaline Rush and Throw Sand. The former gives the scavenger a boost in speed and evasion, making him temporarily act more frequently in combat and increasing the chances that he’ll dodge an attack. Throw Sand lowers an enemy’s evasion as well as their accuracy, making them less likely to hit while becoming more likely to be hit. One of Amon’s most interesting abilities is Cloak, which prevents him from being directly targeted by abilities. This functions as a defensive move but also has the side effect of preventing allies from using beneficial moves on Amon, such as healing abilities. Cloak also makes the scavenger slower while increasing his melee damage.
The Blaster stance unlocks Amon’s ranged attacks, allowing him to hit enemies which are flying in the air. His spud ammo inflicts explosion-type damage, and he can fire spuds which have other elements such as fire, water, or electricity. The Mark Target ability increases the vulnerability of opponents to damage by ammunition, so Amon can set up with that technique and then deal greater damage with his shots. In this stance the scavenger lacks all of his support abilities and the ability to steal, but he can take advantage of all kinds of different elemental weaknesses. When Amon reaches maximum battle bond with his partner, he gains access to the Blaster S stance, which expands his blaster attacks from single target to multi-target. This allows him to do extensive elemental damage to all of the enemies on the field.
So what kinds of strategies are most effective with Amon? Amon mainly focuses on dealing damage and avoiding attacks. His high speed means he’ll get lots of actions during combat, and there are a few talents you can use to increase his turn count even more. Double Turn is a talent which gives your character a second consecutive turn on their next action if they completely dodge an enemy attack. This talent works great in concert with Adrenaline Rush, which increases the scavenger’s evasion by 300%. The Cutpurse and Pickpocket talents are a great combo for Amon, as each one increases the effectiveness of his Steal and Mug abilities and when paired together lower the time cost of those abilities. That means that the scavenger can act more often when robbing opponents. Using Mug this way, you can quickly inflict stun on multiple enemies in the opposing party to keep them from taking action.
When it comes to bonds for Amon, there’s one character he pairs with very well regardless of whether or not they are actually in a pair from a mechanical standpoint: Ive. Ive has ammunition-based attacks like Amon and thus can benefit from Mark Target just like him – she can also set up Mark Target for him so he can deal more damage with his blasts. Ive also has access to the Mug ability and both characters using it together can very quickly stun a large number of enemies. Finally, Ive’s primary technique in battle is to set traps on enemies which cause them to take damage when they attack in melee. Amon can trigger these traps with his spud blasts, making them viable weapons even against opponents who never make melee attacks. A great strategy for these two is to use an S-level trap to set traps against the entire enemy party, and then an S-level blast to attack and set off all of those traps at the same time.
The other partner that I personally like for Amon is Olia. Olia’s Veteran stance benefits from having attacks focused on her, so Amon using Cloak to divert attention away from himself increases the effectiveness of her stance. Their bond abilities together increase evasion (more reason to use Double Turn), increase slashing and piercing damage (increasing the power of both of their basic attacks), and lower the time cost of their basic abilities (allowing them to act more often in combat). Both of these characters are primarily going to focus on dealing damage, so pairing them together to do that more effectively is definitely a viable option.
Gnart is a hogbunny and serves as the second party member to join Amon on his journey. An academic with a gift for herbs and flowers, Gnart is magically gifted and has many abilities that allow him to serve in a support role for the party. His two stances are the Mage stance and the Focus stance. In Mage stance, Gnart casts beneficial spells on the party such as Haste or Cure. In his Focus stance, Gnart grants the entire party status boosts that makes them more effective in battle.
It is a rare occasion for me to put Gnart into his Focus stance. This stance exclusively grants stat bonuses to the other party members such as boosts to accuracy, attack power, or magic power. This can be useful in low-stakes conflicts to make quick work of enemies, but in longer confrontations you’ll nearly always want Gnart to be providing his services as a healer instead. Let’s look at his other abilities to see why that might be the case.
In Mage stance, Gnart’s primary ability is Regen, which gives a light amount of healing to an ally as well as giving them a status which heals them more over time. For much of the early game, this is the best healing ability that’s available to your party. Gnart can also Cure your party of damage-over-time statuses such as drowning, burning, poison, and electrocution. As he reaches higher levels, the hogbunny also learns to Resurrect members of the party and to Heal them for significantly higher amounts of HP. Even when I wasn’t relying on Gnart as a healer, I still liked to keep him in Mage stance in order to Haste other members of the party and get them attacking more often.
My strategies with Gnart are not particularly deep or complex. I either use him to Haste a stronger member of the party, or I use him to cast Regen or Heal on someone whose health is getting low. Because Earthlock uses amri energy that regenerates every battle instead of a slowly-dwindling MP score, Gnart can burn all of his healing energy in any given battle and still have it to use the next time. He’s able to spend his turns keeping the party healthy so that everyone else can focus on fighting the bad guys. Once Gnart got an attacking move in the form of Whirlwind, I began using him offensively a bit more, but only when the entire party has the majority of their health. If you don’t like the idea of using Gnart exclusively for his healing ability, he also has useful support abilities like Silence which stops enemies from using magic, or Smokescreen which confuses enemies so that they attack each other instead of your party.
Now let’s talk bonds. My go-to bond for Gnart is Ive, because their bond together increases the effectiveness of their healing quite significantly. This doesn’t just apply to the amount healed by their abilities, but also to the amount they can heal using potions. It also makes their healing gain the useful side effect of applying haste at a rate of 25%, making it possible for someone to become momentarily faster after receiving healing from one of these characters. The most important bond ability for these two, though, is the Swift Fix bonus. This reduces the time cost associated with First Aid and Regen, meaning it won’t be quite so long between Gnart’s turns whenever he takes time to heal the party. This is significant because Gnart tends towards the slow side anyway – once he heals someone, it can feel like ages before he gets a turn again. His pairing with Ive mitigates this penalty so that he can stay active in battle even when focusing on his healing powers.
When Gnart isn’t paired with Ive, I like to put him with her trusty stormdog Taika instead. Gnart and Taika’s bond together first increases the rate at which their battle bond increases. This is valuable because Gnart’s Mage S stance allows him to heal or even resurrect the entire party in one go – being able to activate that more often is a great tool to have in your arsenal. As Gnart and Taika grow closer, they get other beneficial healing buffs as well. Taika is able to grant more artificial HP using Soul Howl, the damage absorbed by her elemental shields is converted into healing, and finally Gnart gains the ability to restore amri in addition to HP when using a healing ability. While this amri restore isn’t guaranteed, it’s a useful bonus when it does happen.
Olia is a member of the Owl Tide, an order of scholars and explorers who have much knowledge of the world. While her exact age isn’t clear, she’s more experienced and mature than she may seem at first glance. Her Veteran fighting abilities make her a defensive powerhouse that draws the attention away from her allies, while in Warrior stance she becomes more offensive and employs a variety of melee attacks.
In Veteran stance, Olia becomes the party tank. Instead of attacking she focuses on counterattacking, delivering a deadly blow to anyone who comes against her in melee. She can Taunt enemies to aggro them so that they attack her instead of other party members, and when the enemy falls for the taunt and attacks she delivers a punishing counter that deals lots of damage. She can make this strategy even more deadly using Attack Expertise and Anticipate, increasing her attack power and counter rate, respectively. However, Veteran stance in my experience hasn’t been all it’s cracked up to be. Enemies with ranged attacks may not be immune to Taunt, but they won’t activate Olia’s counterattack, making the strategy less effective. She also has a glaring weakness in the form of flying enemies – even if a flying opponent attacks Olia in melee, her counterattack won’t work because they are only vulnerable to ranged attacks. This makes Veteran useful only in a very specific set of circumstances: against grounded, melee-exclusive opponents.
Now Warrior stance gives Olia an offensive approach rather than a defensive one. Her basic attacks are Stabbing Strike and Slashing Strike, which give her two different kinds of physical attacks to switch between. She has a bit of speed control in the form of Hamstring (which inflicts slow status on the opponent) and Adrenaline Rush (which gives her a speed and evasion boost). Olia can also perform a combo by using her Blood Shout to give enemies a status that makes them bleed when they get hit with physical attacks, taking additional damage over time, and then hitting the whole enemy party at once with Slashing Swing.
While Warrior stance gives Olia the ability to apply a lot more offensive pressure against the foe, it still doesn’t address her two core weaknesses: the lack of ranged attacks and the lack of magical damage. Flying opponents are totally immune to Olia’s offensive abilities, and she lacks the ability to hit the elemental weak points of her opponents. This makes Olia’s usefulness to the party a lot more situational than other characters in the group, and in certain circumstances she flat out cannot contribute to combat at all. Because of this, I tend not to keep Olia in the party unless I’m focusing on developing her bonds.
No amount of pairing will totally cover Olia’s weak points – instead, I’d recommend using her pairs to double down on the strengths she possesses. A great character for this is PAT, whose bond levels with Olia will over time increase her defense rating, attack power, maximum health, accuracy, as well as improving the damage and time cost of her basic attack Slashing Swing. PAT also has an ability which pushes flying opponents back to ground level – this negates Olia’s inability to deal with ranged opponents by once again placing them into positions she can reach. Pairing with PAT doesn’t cause our lady warrior to gain any new abilities that alter her strategy, but it helps her to do what she’s good at with even more effectiveness.
Olia also pairs well with Taika the stormdog. Their second bond level increases both of their health by 20%, giving Olia more HP to risk when in her Veteran stance, and their third bond level increases both of their speed by 10%. Since Olia is a bit on the slow side, this boost is valuable for her. Their first bond ability, Against the Elements, increase damage against elementals by 50%, which helps to eliminate one of Olia’s main weaknesses. At maximum bond level, both characters get a 15% boost to melee damage as well as adding the earth elements to their melee attacks. This gives Olia one element in her repertoire – not nearly as versatile as other characters but still better than a bunch of attacks that are exclusively physical slashing or physical piercing.
Ive is technically the first character that you play as in Earthlock, but after experiencing the tutorial with her and Taika you then move away from them for awhile. Ive joins Amon and company at the goblin camp and from then on assists them using her abilities as a soldier and pilot. Like Amon, Ive’s stances are primarily focused on the distinction between melee and ranged attacks. Her Scout stance gives her melee abilities while her Sniper stance focuses on ranged combat using lance ammo.
In Sniper stance, Ive can fire piercing ranged attacks at flying enemies and take advantage of a number of elemental weaknesses such as fire, ice, and earth. She can use the Mark Target ability to increase the damage that enemies take from ammunition-based attacks, making the not only more vulnerable to her lances but also to the spuds fired by Amon. Her similarities with the protagonist don’t end there, either.
Ive’s Scout stance is a versatile stance that has a lot of great abilities to offer. She is able to Steal and Mug just like Amon and therefore benefits from many of the same talent combos (such as combining Pickpocket and Cutpurse to amplify her chance of stealing and give her more actions in combat). She also has Trip Wire, a move when increases evasion by 300% for the entire party. I cannot emphasize enough how useful this move can be, as a party full of characters with Double Turn equipped can get multiple consecutive turns when boosted by this ability. Ive also has a healing ability in the form of First Aid, which heals more than Gnart’s Regen at the cost of not granting the helpful regen status.
Now all of this may already sound like a great selling point for Ive, but we haven’t even hit her main skillset yet: traps. Ive’s focus in combat are melee attacks which set elemental traps against the opponent. When a trapped opponent attacks in melee, the trap goes off and deals magical elemental damage. This damage can activate before the opponent completes their turn, so a well-placed trap on a nearly-defeated opponent can finish the job before your party takes any damage. Since they are elemental, Ive can take advantage of the type weaknesses of enemies, making her possibly the most versatile combatant in the party. In the Scout S stance, her traps can hit all opponents at once, or she can give First Aid to all allies at once, further increasing her effectiveness for the team.
In case you can’t tell, Ivory is my personal favorite character in the game. Her versatile moveset makes her useful in any combat situation, and she has all kinds of useful combos. She and Amon can use Mug to stun multiple opponents in order to reduce the number of attacks coming at the party; Trip Wire increases the evasion of the party to take better advantage of Double Turn; her elemental traps can be activated by explosive damage from Amon, allowing them to be detonated against opponents who don’t attack in melee; and she can serve as a secondary healer alongside Gnart to keep the party healthy in dire situations.
Ive and Amon make a great pair even when they aren’t directly paired together, but building their bond levels is pretty valuable for the team as well. As your primary sources of ranged damage, their level one bond ability’s damage increase for ammunition is a nifty bonus. They also increase each other’s steal chance when using Steal or Mug. At the highest bond level, their basic attacks Stab and Thunder Fist are increased in power by 30%, making those attacks more viable.
My personal favorite pairing for Ive is actually her pairing with Gnart. As the two primary healers for the party, the boosts they receive which make their healing abilities more effective as well as decreasing the time cost are valuable boons. It also makes potions more viable when being utilized by Ive or Gnart, which is great when you don’t have the amri built up to use a healing ability. Ive also benefits from this relationship in a way that Gnart does not in that her poison attacks are increased in power by 25%. This boosts the damage of her Toxic Lance and Poison Trap, so the benefits of the relationship aren’t limited exclusively to the additional healing.
Every good RPG needs a dog companion, and Earthlock’s is the stormdog Taika. A loyal companion to Ivory, Taika is actually one of the first two characters you play with, but after the tutorial she doesn’t join the party until you rescue her in the burning desert. In a game where elemental strengths and weaknesses are key to the combat mechanisms, Taika is the elemental expert of the party. In her Predator stance, she learns elemental attacks from enemies and hits the opponent with useful area of effect attacks. In her Packmate stance, she serves in a defensive role where she protects the party from elemental damage.
I don’t normally care for strategies that are overly focused on defense, but there are many situations where Taika’s Packmate stance has proved useful for me. There are certain bosses or mini-bosses who rely primarily on powerful elemental attacks to take down the party. Taika can give total immunity to every element she has mastered using the Elemental Absorb ability. She can also use this stance to increase defenses in other ways, such as increasing magic defense with Elemental Howl or granting an increase to the party’s maximum HP with Soul Howl. Now I rarely use this stance during standard encounters, but against difficult opponents with specific elemental affinities, the Packmate approach can be the best way to keep your party safe from harm.
Taika’s Predator stance is the one I tend to use the most often. It’s a simple stance that really only includes a basic Bite attack and then different elemental variations on the same multi-target magical attack. Taika can hit every opponent on the field with a single element, and she learns elemental attacks by using her Sixth Sense ability on certain types of enemies. So far, the only enemies I’ve found that teach Taika much of anything are elemental mirrors. Each mirror has a pair of elements, so depending on which of those two elements Taika knows already, she can learn one or two new abilities depending on the type of mirror she senses. Her AOE attacks don’t do much damage against opponents that aren’t vulnerable to them, but over time they can chip a whole party down or finish off a group that’s already sitting at low health. And there’s something to be said for a character who can attack in melee and at a range without having to switch stances at all.
Taika has one other interesting ability in Predator stance: Curse. This ability inflicts multiple status problems on the target based on all of the current elemental masteries that Taika possesses. So say Taika has a water move, a fire move, and an electrical move: she can use Curse to inflict drowning, burning, and electrocuted on a single opponent. I’ll typically use this move against bosses, striking them all at once with a number of debilitating ailments before then switching focus to attacking directly. When her battle bond reaches full, Taika can move into the Predator S stance and greatly increase the power of her elemental area spells, causing them to inflict status problems in addition to boosted damage.
My strategy with Taika depends a lot on the composition of the enemy party. Against a strong opponent with a mighty elemental attack coming, I’ll use the Packmate stance to become immune to the incoming blow. Against single targets who don’t rely on elemental damage, I’ll inflict Curse to reduce the length of the boss’s life. When facing multiple opponents at once, I spray the enemy with each element to determine what their weak points might be, and then I capitalize on the attack that gives me the biggest advantage. Taika is great in battles where elemental attacks and elemental weaknesses are very much in play – against single opponents who are more focused on physical combat, it can be difficult to find a satisfying role for her to fill.
Which character you choose to have Taika bond with may depend quite a bit on whether you prefer to use her offensively or defensively. For the ultimate defense against both physical and magical attacks, you can’t do much better than PAT, whose abilities in many ways are the physical compliment to Taika’s magical defenses. At bond level one they both gain bonuses to their maximum health, and at level two their battle bond rate starts increasing 35% faster. This makes both of them enter their S stances more often, which is excellent since they both have effective AOE attacks in those stances. At the highest level of bond, the time costs of Taika’s Elemental Absorb and PAT’s Absorber are reduced, which makes it easier for the two of them to very quickly place protective barriers around the entire party.
If you prefer to keep Taika in Predator stance and as a result wouldn’t benefit much from pairing with PAT or Gnart, consider Ive as a possible alternative. With Ivory at her side, Taika gains a 10% speed boost as well as a 50% damage increase to her electrical attacks, making that particular element very effective. A 50% damage boost to the Lightning AOE pushes Taika out of “chip damage” territory, making her a more viable damage-dealer. At their highest bond level, the critical strike damage dealt by the pair is increased by 100%. This is an awesome tool to have at your disposal if you have the It’s a KO talent equipped – finishing off an opponent will guarantee that Taika’s next attack is a critical hit, and her bond with Ive allows that critical hit to do double the damage it normally would. This makes it more likely that Taika’s attack will kill, thus giving her another guaranteed critical, continuing the chain on and on.
PAT is the final character to join your party, and for me it took some time to discover exactly what PAT brought to the team. The robot joins at a pretty low level – he was five to six levels behind the rest of my characters when he jumped in – so the process of training him and discovering his niche is a time consuming one. Once I got a better understanding of his abilities and progressed a bit farther into the game, I began to see just what gives PAT value as a character.
What Taika does for the party from a magical elemental standpoint, PAT does from a physical damage type standpoint. In DEF BOT stance, PAT can use Absorber to give one-time immunity to physical attack types such as crushing, slashing, or piercing. The robot can also use Buffer to increase the general physical defense of the party. However, PAT doesn’t just protect by setting up shields – he can serve directly as a tank for someone who is on their last legs. The Intervene ability allows PAT to jump in and take damage for his chosen protectee, and as a healing ability he can give 50% of his current health to the ally of his choice. Compare this to Olia’s counterattack strategy: instead of drawing all of the attention of a single enemy to himself, PAT flips the perspective and absorbs all of the attention coming towards a single party member.
PAT also has an ATK BOT stance which is more aggressive. His basic attack is the Punch, which I almost never use in favor of the Electro Ball technique. This is a magical lightning attack that, in my experience so far, is easily the most powerful single target move possessed by any of the characters in my party. One of my most effective strategies with PAT has been to simply give him the It’s a KO talent and watch him crit opponent after opponent using Electro Ball. Of course, he does have other skills in this stance. Using Gravity Field, PAT can drag flying enemies out of the sky so that melee attackers can reach them. This is helpful for characters like Amon or Ive who have a greater variety of combat options in their melee stance, and near-essential for Olia who cannot flight targets in any way.
So what are some effective strategies for PAT? Once again I will highly recommend the Electro Ball technique in which you simply use that move on every turn until all the bad guys are dead. Still, if that’s a little too straightforward for you, consider the effectiveness of the Absorber/Explode combo. PAT’s Explode ability deals a significant amount of damage based on PAT’s remaining health. It also hits everyone on the field, allies included. However, if PAT sets up Absorber on everyone first to make them immune to explosions and then uses the ability, he can deal heavy explosion damage to the opposition without having to be concerned for his friends. In DEF BOT stance, Intervene gives PAT quite a bit of control over who in the party is taking damage, especially if another party member is also using an aggro-control ability such as Taunt or Cloak.
Picking a bond for PAT can be tricky because there are a couple of different ones that have one very promising ability alongside multiple abilities which don’t seem particularly exciting. Gnart, for example, grants bond boosts that are somewhat all over the place and generally unimpressive. However, at their final level, PAT and Gnart begin generating an extra amri whenever their turns start. This means that abilities which could previously chip off the character’s amri stores are now fully refunded at the beginning of each turn. This makes it easier for Gnart to spam Regen and for PAT to perform the Electro Ball “strategy” I described earlier today.
PAT’s bond with Ive appears to be a bit more promising but runs into the same issues as Gnart, with only particular bond abilities standing out as essential. Augmented Traps is great for Ive, allowing her to deal 25% more damage with her trap attacks, but it means very little to PAT himself. The promising ability for this pair is Overclocked, which has a 50% chance of giving Ivory and Pat haste when the battle begins. Speed is an area in which PAT struggles immensely, so having a bond level which negates this problem will help the robot to keep up with his allies when it comes to taking turns and dealing damage.