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SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech - Smashing Review

Updated: May 10, 2023

You look like a fun guy

Let's get this out of the way right off the bat: I'm ADDICTED to games from the SteamWorld... World. The developer Image & Form Games has a long track record of knocking these out of the park, and SteamWorld Quest is no exception. Beginning with a tower defense game on the original DS, transitioning to a metroidvanias all the way to a turn-based strategy game on modern consoles, The SteamWorld franchise is no stranger to mixing up a successful formula.

SteamWorld Quest switches things up once again, this time, as a roleplaying card game. While I enjoyed my time thoroughly while playing, it wasn't perfect, and it's certainly not for everyone.

Story: Entertaining, funny at times, but ultimately... forgettable. While attempts were made to draw connections between the characters and the world around them, ultimately it all gets lost as the game goes on and takes a major back seat to the action in the battles.

Concept art from Image & Form

Graphics: You control a robotic party of comical heroes through an absolutely beautifully crafted hand-drawn world. The backgrounds in many of the locations were so picturesque that I caught myself just stopping to stare once in a while. The artwork does an excellent job of making the player feel truly a part of this magical world. Music/Sound: Nothing really stood out as spectacular, though nothing detracted from the experience either. Classical tunes fit the realm and sound effects were satisfying when casting spells in battles.

Gameplay: Let's get right to the meat of it: This game delivers on fun. Each battle is an event with random cards drawn from a deck you build while traversing through the game. Initially, it may come across as extremely basic, but as time goes on, more cards and strategy get added to the action, creating a truly intense and challenging experience. Stacking cards becomes an important strategy, where effects rendered on enemies are amplified based off the order of cards used. For example, selecting a card to poison the enemy first, then attacking with a card that multiplies damage given to any opponents who are poisoned gives a brutal blow, swinging the battle in your favor instantly. This isn't without it's faults however, as sometimes the luck of the draw would affect success of battles (especially further on in the game) and can become frustrating to replay a battle again or go through multiple again because the last save location wasn't close by. Know going into this experience that it is a card battling game first and foremost, and everything else is a distant secondary to that.

The battles can be long, with each fight lasting anywhere from 3 to 10 minutes. There is a tremendous amount of strategy involved to ensure the best odds for success each turn. It was a blast putting together different combinations of cards to create different results. The amount of variety and possibilities are seemingly endless. Unfortunately, outside of the battles, SteamWorld Quest feels a bit... hollow.

Very little interaction with objects in the world around you means traveling from screen to screen for the sole purpose of battling new enemies. There were minor efforts made to combat this, but they all came up a bit short. The ability to swing your weapon while traversing the world map is a welcome feature, but a lack of objects to interact with made it feel useless and extremely tacked on. Swinging your weapon at an enemy prior to beginning a battle would give a preemptive attack, taking away a small percent of their hp, but often times it would miss, even if it looked like your character was perfectly lined up with the enemy. Overall, the game gave me an intense feeling of 'streamlined'.

It felt restrictive. claustrophobic. Lack of freedom of choice on where to go.

Lots of hand holding combined with limited paths to take made for a 'basic' RPG adventure experience.

The game is divided into chapters that progress the story, and you're allowed to go back and visit previous areas whenever you'd like to grind levels or search for any missed treasures; but ultimately, that proved completely unnecessary to do if you play your cards right.

Various characters and cards mixed make for seemingly endless combination possibilities

Is SteamWorld Quest worth it? That just depends on the type of gamer you are. If you like RPGs that switch up the basic formula and keep it fresh, it's an absolute day one must buy.

While it has a few shortcomings, SteamWorld Quest is still a welcome addition to an incredible family of games

If the thought of collecting cards and combining them in battles for attacks makes your stomach turn, this adventure isn't going to change your mind. Ultimately, it was well worth the time I've spent, taking about 12 hours total to complete the entire game. A lot of love and passion was poured into making this a fun experience for the gamer. It's polished, it's fun, but it could have been even greater. There are extra challenges to tackle after the story is finished, but I would have preferred a more interactive gameworld to adventure through during the main story.

The actual adventuring portion of the game felt tacked on. Thankfully, the card battles shined throughout.

Different characters to select and tons of card combinations make for extremely high replayability, assuming you're ok with walking through the same paths the game forces you to take. While it falls lower on the scale of SteamWorld games I love... I still enjoyed it plenty to recommend.

If you're new to the series, here's the order of my favorite SteamWorld Games and where they rank: 1) SteamWorld Heist (Turn-Based Strategy) 2) SteamWorld Dig 2 (Metroidvania) 3) SteamWorld Dig (Metroidvania) 4) SteamWorld Quest (RPG) 5) SteamWorld Tower Defense (Tower Defense)

Beautifully crafted hand-drawn art brings SteamWorld Quest to life

Miscellaneous: SteamWorld Quest comes first to Nintendo Switch on April 25 Additional platform(s): TBA.

Languages:English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Russian

Age rating:ESRB E / PEGI 12

Price:$24.99 /€24.99 /£22.49

Developer:Image & Form Games

Publisher:Thunderful Publishing AB

Image & Form recently held a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) for SteamWorld Quest. Here are some of the comments they provided for the future of this game, and the series in general:

- Currently there is no DLC planned, but if the game does well that may change - A SteamWorld Heist sequel is 'not impossible,' but the team is currently focused on SteamWorld Quest right now - A SteamWorld Tower Defense port could happen (as many people missed that the first time around on DSiWare) - They confirmed that a physical release for SteamWorld Quest is coming in 2019 (and there might be for other titles as well) - Docked: 1080p 60fps, Handheld: 720 60fps - SteamWorld Quest digital soundtrack coming soon - The devs would have loved to have full voice acting and bigger game world, but budget restrictions prevented it - SteamWorld Quest began as a completely different game, the team will talk about this in far more detail at a later date Special thanks to Image & Form Games and Thunderful Publishing for their continued generosity and support of Smash JT by providing this review code well in advance of release. As always, Smash JT reviews are NEVER influenced by anyone.

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Smash JT
Smash JT
Apr 23, 2019

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