I love RPGs. It has been a while since I have experienced a good turn-based RPG. I honestly cannot remember the last game I played where turn-based combat was done well. SteamWorld Quest Hand of Gilgamech is a turn-based RPG mixed with deck building and side scrolling. SteamWorld Quest Hand of Gilgamech was developed by Image & Form and published by Thunderful.
SteamWorld Quest Hand of Gilgamech is presented as a fairy tale and to begin with is narrated by a phenomenal voice actor. However, once I was introduced to the main characters and hear that they are not voice acted but instead filled with grunts and noises just like Banjo Kazooie, I audibly groaned. I cannot stress how much I hate the constant grunting, but I digress. Maybe some people enjoy that. I am certainly not one of them.
The story follows Armilly and Copernica, two small-town friends who set out on a small journey that spirals into a much larger one. Later they are joined by other characters who all have their own unique skills and thus, their own decks. The enemies also have their own unique deck and often take action after the main party. In the beginning, I was under the impression that the battle system will be similar to Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. I quickly realized just how wrong I was.
Only three characters in the party are allowed to participate in battles. What makes this an intriguing system is that with the cards being randomized, the players will never have the perfect optimization for their battles. Each card represents a specific action for a specific character. There are three different types of cards: strikes, upgrades, and skills. Strikes are basic damage-dealing attacks, upgrades bestow secondary effects such as shields, and skills require “gear” and will do special moves such as healing my party or do a more powerful attack against the enemy. If three cards are used by the same character, a combo or extra free action is executed by that character. There are also combo cards that two or more characters can use if actions are placed properly. But with three characters, each with 8 action cards, it makes every battle unique. That means that at the beginning of the battle, I have 24 cards to go through. At one point, I am forced to only heal my characters when I really want to attack. No such luck then. I have to wait until the next turn. Fortunately, I can optimize my deck for each character and choose what cards each character will carry. This requires a bit of strategizing to decide what kind of cards I want to bring into battle.
Some encounters last for several minutes, especially against the tankier enemies. Fortunately, the game has a fast-forward button that can be toggled on or off in the settings menu. I am a patient person so I kept it off. It is also possible to gain a small advantage over enemies if I walk up to an enemy from behind and whack them, causing them to lose a small portion of their health. Otherwise, if they run into me or if I touch them, a battle gets triggered and they will have full health.
SteamWorld Quest Hand of Gilgamech is divided into four acts with each act subdivided into chapters making this a fairly short game for a RPG. For the duration of each chapter I am confined to a certain set of 2D spaces that are connected by fields, doorways, tunnels, or ladders. They vary depending on the location I am in. Maps range from haunted woods, magical towers, and nasty sewers. Each area has something that is breakable whether it be branches, barrels, boxes, etc. Breaking these objects allows for a chance to earn extra gold. However, the annoying part that I encountered was that I could not tell what is breakable or not unless I clicked on EVERYTHING on the screen. My mouse pointer did not change in anyway whatsoever if I hovered over breakable objects or non-breakable objects. The dungeons, or chapters, are all very short and some contain a small and easily solved puzzle. SteamWorld Quest Hand of Gilgamech will autosave on regular intervals and there are also statutes in every dungeon that will not only save the game, but also heal every member of the party as well as respawn all enemies. This is useful for grinding for more gold and experience. Once I complete a chapter, I can either advance to the next chapter or revisit a prior chapter to grind for more gold, experience or treasures that I may have missed. Gold, I should mention, can be used at the merchant’s shop to buy cards, equipment, and consumables.
The graphics for SteamWorld Quest Hand of Gilgamech are absolutely stunning. I love how detailed everything is. The combination of steampunk and fantasy plays very well. In fact, one of the enemies is a tiny canary in a cage on top of a robot body. I absolutely love it. The characters are drawn well and look amazing. In the background of some places are random characters doing random things, whether it be farming or hacking a tree down. The game gives off the feeling that everything was hand drawn.
The game can be controlled entirely with the mouse. I did use the keyboard in the beginning but eventually, I just put my feet up on the desk, laid back in my chair, and simply clicked away. In all honesty, I feel that this game would have been more fun on a touchscreen than on the PC. But fortunately, I am able to jam out to the music. Honestly, the music in SteamWorld Quest Hand of Gilgamech was truly a delight to listen to. Every area feels appropriately matched with the music being played. The battle music keeps me pumped up for the entire fight.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoy playing SteamWorld Quest Hand of Gilgamech. There definitely are some times when I wished I was playing this on a touchscreen instead of my PC. I did sometimes get annoyed with the characters but that was only temporary. The graphics are absolutely stunning and the gameplay is a lot of fun. The game can be beaten in about 15 hours but I personally think the game has a lot of replayability.
SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
SteamWorld Quest Hand of Gilgamech is a very fun, beautifully designed RPG, deck building game that can be beaten in a short time but does have some minor drawbacks.