SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech Review – Written by Jose Vega
Product provided by Image & Form Games and Thunderful Publishing
The SteamWorld series has explored many avenues when it comes to their games. They can range from Metroidvania with SteamWorld Dig to Turn-based strategy with SteamWorld Heist. But Image & Form Games announced that they would take the series in an unexpected direction. It would come to be known as SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech. Mixing turn-based RPG with the feel of a collectible card game is an interesting ambition. Does this game deliver in everything and then some?
Let’s get started with the plot. The game is presented as a fairy tale. Long ago there was a warrior who went by the name of Gilgamech. He is a legend due to his accomplishments, including taking down a menacing force called the Behemoth. But as time went on his feats would soon fade from memory. Several years pass and the world is at peace. Armilly and Copernica, small-town friends go on a small journey. It starts small but eventually it soon escalates into one that will decide the fate of their world. They will meet new allies, face deadly challenges and eventually come together not just as a team but as real heroes.
Sure the story is traditional fairy tale fluff but it’s one story I got behind from start to finish. It starts simple and as it goes on, it gets intense. They take their time introducing the world, the characters, etc. Not only that but the characters also develop and improve as a result. It just feels so enjoyable that by the time its over, you feel relieved. You feel satisfied to have enjoyed a tale like this, even if it does follow many of the tropes.
Gameplay in SteamWorld Quest is different from previous entries. It’s split into two sections: field and battle. Field is mostly a side-scroller where players can move about and explore. It isn’t just you but your enemies too. Sometimes you can find treasures that give players new things and other times you can find doors that lead to hidden areas. In some instances there are some puzzle solving. Nothing too fancy. As for enemies, you can avoid them if you know their patterns but one way or the other, you got to attack them. Attacking them or even encountering them triggers the second section, battle.
In battle, in follows your traditional RPG game. You have your party on one side while the enemy’s on the other. What sets this apart from other RPG games is the game’s main gimmick: cards. You use cards to have your characters do a variety of things, ranging from attacks or special abilities. But there’s a limit. Players must form a deck of 8 cards for each of the five characters in the party. In addition many cards can contain a cost. In the place of MP, there are steam gears. You acquire 1 steam gear each turn but some cards will give you access to more. Not only do players have to create proper decks for each character but also they have to determine the best strategies. It’s a very interesting system that offers a lot of experimentation and customization, giving players the freedom to decide how their party should go about. In addition using three of the same card type gives access to Chains, letting party members dish out special attacks. They mostly depend on the weapon equipped and can range from offensive to defensive. Again it adds more variety to a game that will have players plan accordingly.
The combat is really good and sometimes addicting to boot. It’s not just you who will be dealing the pain but your enemies to. They won’t hesitate to get versatile by using buffs and debuffs. Players will have to do the same and sometimes mix things up if they wish to succeed. Boss battles will really put your skills to the test and sometimes you’ll have to form strategies to beat them. Thankfully the checkpoint system is effective. There are save points and you can automatically return to them if you die but using them will also revive enemies you defeated. It’s similar to Dark Souls but it can also be used to grind your characters. It’s pretty good and one you will definitely need. The game isn’t long, taking players 10-12 hours to complete. But if there is a recommendation, do the game on Hard. Hard will provide you a good challenge but Normal comes at a close second if you feel it’s too difficult.
I love how the game looks. It carries this steampunk feel while adding it’s own flair to make it stand out. The characters all look great and they stand out with their own strengths, weaknesses and trials to overcome. If there’s one thing I will praise about the game is the music. The music is really amazing, especially during boss battles. Makes players feel energized and really wanting to be victorious. Everything about the game has a lot of heart and soul put into it. It shows in every way and it’s easy to see why Image & Form and Thunderful Publishing delivered in this game. They truly did deliver. If there was an issue or two this game had, it would probably be the lack of challenge. That’s not to say it’s bad since there are 3 difficulty settings. As stated earlier, it’s recommended to play the game on Hard for a true challenge. Also there’s not much to do after being it aside from a coliseum challenge. A New Game+ would alleviate it and add more to the length.
In conclusion, SteamWorld Quest is a game that has a familiar feel but offers something new and unique. To summarize, there’s gameplay that is unique and at times addictive along with its combat. There’s also a solid presentation that keeps it consistent and the music is really good. Only a minor negative or two hinders this from being an all-time game but it’s truly one that players should put their time into. It’s a worthy addition to the Steamworld series of games and from my experience, you won’t regret it. Trust me.
I give SteamWorld Quest an 8.5 out of 10.