“The last Metroid is in captivity. The galaxy is at peace…”
The start of last summer was special, in spite of everything: I completed System Shock for the very first time. I had long been acquainted with its sequel, but the original eluded me. To my surprise it was unquestionably the best gaming experience I had throughout 2020, save Half-Life: Alyx.
Not bad going for a game close to thirty years old. I didn’t much expect anything comparable in 2021, but 1994 wasn’t done with me yet.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Shadows of New York weaves a familiar tale. Yet it is not a tale familiar out of triteness, but rather in its bleak and despairing contemporaneity. Shadows of New York artfully depicts our 2020 hell-scape, holds it up as a mirror and doesn’t so much ask whether or not we’re fucked as yell it in our faces.
It is a tale of a debauched, grotesquely wealthy elite presiding over a city of broken, desperate people, haunted by an impending apocalypse—climate-induced, technological, viral, pick your horror—precious few seem inclined to curtail, let alone prevent.
And this apocalypse cares not a whit for whether you’re human or vampire; after all, Kindred were once human themselves, and its ruling body, the Camarilla—so intent on maintaining the status quo at all costs—a potent metaphor for a global system that refuses to change, adapt, or evolve.
Here I was alone on my spaceship. Minding my own business. Basking in the bliss of eternal solitude, when all of a sudden I noticed a distress signal coming from a nearby ship ‘The Alabaster’. I took one look down at my control panel and decided “not today my friend”. I turned off incoming transmissions and slowly continued on, not knowing where I was going or what I was doing. Free from responsibility and game mechanics…
Image & Form Games have done great
things with their SteamWorld games,
with the two main Dig games being wonderful
adventures, especially Dig 2 which I
took a look at
last year. So, when I saw their new release was going to a card based RPG,
I was quietly confident that it would be another hit, even with my so-so
history with card games.
Quest: Hand of Gilgamech, to give it its full title,
takes place in a time before the Dig entries.
Robots roam the lands, but this is a world of heroes, villains and a dusting of
magic. You take your band of merry wannabe heroes on a quest to find out why
your village has been overrun with nasty folk who have kidnapped the not so heroic
Guild who had one job – protect the village.
As you start adventuring across a beautiful
hand-drawn world, more heroes will join your quest through dungeons, magical
forests and other well-crafted tropes of fantasy games. While some of the broader
plot points might be more cliched than the fresh adventures of the Dig games, everything is delivered with
the same wit and charm as we have come to expect from Image & Form.
Wit and charm are one thing, but some
action and drama is needed to balance out the hijinks. This is where the cards
come into play, every battle is fought with cards that you collect from
treasure chests, earn from adventuring or craft at the magical shop that
appears where needed.
Your characters fall into broad archetypes
of warrior, healer, spellcaster and suchlike, with the abilities conferred by
their cards complementing them accordingly. As you progress through the game, your
understanding of how to use them develops accordingly. No longer will you just
be throwing out card after card trying to inflict damage or heal your fellow
heroes, you will see the intricacies of status effects and card combos coming
Even if you are used to card battling games,
I would suggest you start playing Quest on
Easy mode, to start with at least. While working out your strategies, some of
the early battles on Normal difficulty can be quite frustrating. Knocking the difficulty
down a touch to get to grips with the mechanics and to develop your understanding
the types of cards you want in your hand are sensible approaches to take.
There are some fun dynamics going on outside
of the combat. Every now and again, as you explore the various Chapters and
Acts, you will find a nice statue. Activate this, and your party will be
restored to full health, a welcome reward after some hard battling. However, in
the vein of Dark Souls, using this
healing statue will lead to enemies in nearby areas re-spawning.
It isn’t all doom and gloom when it comes navigating
your surroundings. When you see an enemy, you can land a pre-fight blow to
inflict some damage, or if you are smart enough with your movement, you can
even avoid some of the battles against inconsequential enemies. That won’t
always be the best plan though, as when you come across the bosses, you will wish
you had defeated the lesser foes to help you level up.
My one frustration is that some battles can
drag on for quite a while. It isn’t too bad when fighting bosses as you always
have to keep on your toes, but against the lesser enemies, it can turn into a
bit of a grind.
That shouldn’t take away from what Image &
Form have done here though. They’ve taken the beloved SteamWorld Dig games, and managed to both expand the universe, and
introduce a new genre to their growing series.
If you own a Switch, then you really should own this.
The Verdict – Headshot
Platforms Available/Reviewed – Switch
Review based on review code. Please read this page for more on our scoring policy.
Every once in a while you receive a press release about a game, and wonder why you haven’t read much it? Figment is one of those. It might be that it released when I was getting ready for EGX, but the good news is there is a demo available on Steam and developers Bedtime Digital Games are hard at work on console versions, including a Switch version. Given the opportunity to put a few questions to Creative Director of Figment, Jonas Byrresen. …
The FIFA franchise is one, like many sporting games that aren’t Football Manager, where I tend to dip in and out, skipping seasons here and there without much concern. Unlike some, I’ve never been one who absolutely needs the latest release, and I would have been quite content skipping FIFA 18…until I saw the Switch version on offer. …
I’ve been checking out Wulverbladeas part of my desire to get stuck into some of the gems that are coming out on the Switch. I will be bringing you all my Verdict of this side-scrolling beat-em-up…just once I’ve managed to get past the second level. The game is a bit tough, but the good news is that developers Fully Illustrated are working on an easy mode! …