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SteamWorld Quest: Hand Of Gilgamech

Posted by GG Goblin On April - 24 - 2019

Heading back to SteamWorld for some fantasy RPG card-battling.

Whenever Image & Form announce a new game, it is cause for celebration. No matter what the game, be it a sequel or a new title set to a different genre, you know it is going to have that wonderful SteamWorld setting that ties all of their games together, and you know it is going to be funny. I do love when games are tied together with a theme that exists outside just a genre. For their latest title, SteamWorld Quest, Image & Form are taking their comical Steampunk setting into the realms of fantasy for an RPG adventure featuring deck-building and card battles. Bring on the heroic one-liners.

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While each of their games features different characters, they are always well developed and easy to like. The main hero in SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech is Armilly. Well, I call this grocer’s daughter a hero, but the reality is that being a hero is all she wants to be, much to the disapproval of the heroes guild. Still, fate has a strange way of making dreams come true, especially in RPG games, and it doesn’t take long for calamity to befall Armilly’s village and a quest basically save the world to present itself. Along the way, Armilly will be joined by a variety of other would-be heroes and there will be plenty of time to become friends during their journey.

Okay, so originality is perhaps not the strong point of SteamWorld Quest. It’s a fairly standard story, that much is true. However, the game doesn’t take this story seriously and, between the main story beats and the interactions between the characters, there is plenty of humour to be found here. Each of the main characters are as lovable as the next, and they all have their own little quirks. The jokes come quick and fast in the game, and it is not afraid to poke fun at itself, which is always a sign of confident writing. On paper, the story may sound dull, but the reality is a fun-packed journey that will keep a smile on the players face.

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When it comes to gameplay, the player will control one of their team members as they move from area to area horizontally, occasionally smashing stuff or collecting treasure, or chatting with other characters that come along. This side of the game would be quite dull were it not for the comical interludes from the characters, and of course, the battles.

This side of the gameplay is where the most time will be spent. This is in part because there are a lot of battles, but also due to each battle being actually quite lengthy. These are card-based battles in which the player will play cards from a hand to represent the actions of the characters in the team.

The player will come across a selection of different characters during their journey, and some of them will join the players team. However, in battle only three characters can be used, and each character will have their own deck of cards with up to eight cards in. Once battle starts, the player can play up to three cards from their hand, which make the actions of the characters. Certain basic moves, such as a simple attack or buff, will reward the player with a cog that is displayed on the top of the screen in the Steam Pressure Meter. This meter is shared between all of the active characters and is used to pay for the special, more powerful, moves. And thus, play is divided between playing the weaker cards to build up the meter, and the stronger, more impressive cards.

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It is all fairly straight forward, but there are a few complexities to work out. For example, having the same character play three cards in one turn can lead to a heroic chain, which will reward the player. Then there are certain cards that will result in a combo with another character, and elemental strengths and weaknesses to take into account. The player is obviously limited to whichever cards they have in their hand at the time, but they are able to swap out two cards each turn, ensuring there will always be something worth playing.

Progression will lead to more cards being found, bought or crafted, and players will be able to spend all the time they want tweaking their decks and swapping in new cards. Different characters bring different types of cards, and so swapping characters in the team is another way of switching things up and trying new things. There will be a certain amount of grinding for most players, but this is made quite easy with the Statues found around the world. These statues allow the player to save, but when used will respawn any nearby enemies, facilitating that little bit of extra grind. There are three different difficulty levels available in the game, so players who relish a challenge will have something to try out.

The SteamWorld visuals are once again excellent, looking especially vibrant on the handheld Switch screen. The level of polish is as we would expect from Image & Form, and that runs through both the presentation and the audio work as well as the visuals. I have to say that Quest doesn’t quite feel as varied as the previous SteamWorld games, but what it does, it does well.

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Image & Form have struck gold again. SteamWorld Quest is a charming card battler with solid mechanics and a wonderful cast of quirky characters. There is a huge amount of customisation to play with, and the varied difficulty ensures that players of all abilities will be welcome in the SteamWorld. If you only buy one fantasy steampunk themed card-battling RPG on Switch this year, then I would say SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech would be the right choice.




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