Title: SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech
Developer: Image & Form
Genre: Adventure, RPG
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 25/04/19
Price: £22.49 – Rapid Reviews UK were very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
What the Developers say
In this creative roleplaying card game you’ll lead a party of aspiring heroes through a hand-drawn world and intense battles using only your wits and a handful of cards. Take on whatever threat comes your way by crafting your own deck choosing from over 100 unique punch-cards!
What awaits you is a luscious treasure chest filled with gold, dragons, vivid worlds, magic, knights in shining armor as well as XP, turn-based battles and all that good RPG stuff! The game’s humorous mix of traditional fantasy and steampunk robots makes for an unforgettable experience with lots of laughs.
Image & Form have created a beautiful looking steampunk inspired universe with their games since the very beginning with SteamWorld Dig on the 3DS back in 2013. Fast forward to 2019, and we’ve got the fourth entry in the SteamWorld series making its way exclusively to the Nintendo Switch first; SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech. If you haven’t played any of the previous entries it’s not a huge deal as they are all independent games but do note they are all very much worthy of your time. SteamWorld Dig 1 and 2 and SteamWorld Heist are all available on the Switch for under £15.
I’ve been a fan of the SteamWorld series since the start, so when I heard the announcement of SteamWorld Quest, I was beyond thrilled. The fact that each entry is a new take on a much-loved genre and is executed so well for each new game is a testament to the developers, Image & Form.
Audio and Visual
Set in and around a fictional world you’ll be travelling with your heroes across idyllic villages, and flower filled meadows and eerie looking medieval castles. If you love your fiction and fantasy, then SteamWorld Quest is right up your street. The hand-drawn art style works incredibly well and looks gorgeous. There are goblins, dragons, mages and even a dude with a canary cage for a head. Image & Form have pushed the boat out when it comes to creating some quirky looking characters. I would say I played an even split in handheld and TV modes and there’s no significant difference for either in graphical quality; it’s more about whether you want to have a quick half an hour in bed or game away the whole weekend!
The soundtrack and the musical score fits in with the games aesthetic perfectly; feeling like you’re at a medieval banquet one minute to fierce battle themes the next. I played a lot with my headphones in handheld mode to fully immerse myself in the world, and the musical score helps you feel like you’re a part of that.
Gameplay and Replayability
Starting your adventure in an enchanting forest, you’re searching for a magical mushroom with your friend Copernica. You play as Armilly who is desperately longing to be part of the Hero’s Guild. The story quickly progresses from here as you discover the members of the Hero’s Guild have gone missing, so you take it upon yourself to start a search and rescue mission with the help of another friend; Galleo. These three form your main party of playable characters…for now.
Taking control of your heroes, you will be doing a mixture of exploring and battling and while the time spent is more heavily focused on battling it’s quite an even split in terms of gameplay. It’s divided into multiple chapters and is presented much like your favourite fairytale story. It’s incredibly endearing. Along the way, you’ll gain the ability to swap out your active party members for the battles ahead. I found myself sticking a lot with the three starter ones, but each of them has their own strengths.
While the world created is stunning it’s the battle system and larger enemy types that will have you brimming with anticipation. You have a hand of 8 cards per character, and it’s entirely turn-based, you’re also able to swap around your active card deck as the further you progress the more cards you’ll have at your disposal. With over 100 cards to choose from between all of the playable characters, it can get a little overwhelming when you start to rack them up!
There are varying enemy types with different strengths and weaknesses to the different elemental abilities; fire, ice, wind, electric and poison. Once you’ve played for a few hours, you’ll quickly learn which cards help you out the most, and it’s a great feature being able to customise your team on the fly. You can upgrade your cards, craft new ones and buy weapons and equipment from the travelling merchant who appears in almost every stage. This throws in another layer of strategy deciding whether you’ll benefit from strengthening an existing card or buying new weapons and equipment for your team to buff their stats.
Each stage has valuable treasure chests to find which usually hold either new cards, a weapon or consumable items such as a potion or elixir. At the end of each one, you’ll get a percentage of how much treasure you’ve found, and if it’s not 100%, you can bet you’ll want to go back through to find the missing loot.
SteamWorld Quest is an absolute delight to play through from start to finish; don’t be lured in by it’s cutesy and idyllic charm though. Some of the battles are tough as nails, and from Chapter Four onwards it ramps up the difficulty curve. Image & Form have created this universe with a lot of love, care and attention to detail. The exchanges between the NPC characters are witty along with an intriguing storyline that will take you on an adventure across snowy mountains and dark dungeons.
If you’re new to the turn-based card battle system that’s in place then it’s a great place to start with enough depth to keep seasoned players entertained; it’s a perfect balance. It would have been nice to have the option to switch out characters mid-battle, but this adds a deeper and more complex layer to the battle system where you’ve constantly got to be one step ahead of the enemy. SteamWorld Quest is one of my essential titles for the Switch, don’t make the mistake of passing this one up.
Rapid Reviews UK Rating
You can purchase SteamWorld Quest from the Nintendo eShop on the following link, https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/SteamWorld-Quest-Hand-of-Gilgamech-1500999.html