SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech Review

Posted by: Sam Tree | 8 May 2019

Image & Form

Image & Form

Release Date:
25th April 2019


Nintendo Switch

Reviewed On:
Nintendo Switch

SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech is the latest entry into the SteamWorld series of games; A card-based RPG that follows the story of a rag-tag bunch of Steam Bots in their quest to prevent the inevitable end of the world.

Chronologically set after the events of SteamWorld Heist, SteamWorld Quest takes place as bedtime story being recounted to a young SteamBot by Sea Brass, a crew member of Piper Farraday’s. The tale is set in a land of magic, monsters and intrigue and sees a group of unlikely heroes set off on a quest to defeat the merciless Void Army; presented is charming storybook esque visuals.

Unlike traditional RPGs which feature an open world setting, SteamWorld Quest follows a more structured Act and Chapter format; much like a book. Each Act is set in a different area and ends with a final boss battle. Players can choose to return to previously completed chapters to hunt for undiscovered loot or to power up their team. There were a couple of times I was required to return to a previous area for some level grinding, but the characters gain levels fairly swiftly so it didn’t feel like much of a chore. That’s not to say there isn’t a harder difficulty setting; you can freely switch at any point during play if it offers too much of a challenge.

For me, this meant I was able to simply enjoy the story. The characters are well written and each has their own quirks and personalities. Armily is the rash fangirl Knight who idolises oldskool heroes, while Coernica is book smart Alchemist. As you progress through the main story you’ll add more characters to your roster; their personalities really shine through and play off one another.

The card-based battle system – while not a new idea – is an incredibly diverse and fun way to drive the core combat in the game. Each character has a deck of 8 cards which the player can swap out while not in battle; new ones can be crafted or found while existing ones can be upgraded to deal more damage or additional effects.

There are three card types; strikes, upgrades and skills. Strikes are used as basic attacks and usually deal straight damage while upgrades are used to apply buffs and healing to your characters as well as debuffs to your opponents. When using either of these card types you build up SP – Steam Power – which is needed to use to skill cards. Skill cards are a mixture of offensive and defensive cards depending on their effect and require anything from 1 to 5 SP to be used.

You can play 3 cards per turn (with some abilities allowing you to play an extra) so choosing the right order is paramount to success. There’s a lot of tactical thinking behind playing each card which adds to the enjoyment of each encounter. Chaining together three cards from the same character will result in a bonus chain attack combo card being played; the effects of which are determined by your equipped weapons. For example, one of Armilly’s chain attacks is to afflict your opponent with the lacerate status effect – this causes damage every time the enemy attacks.

And while the encounters are enjoyable, to begin with, some of them did feel like a bit of a slog. Each battle could last anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes on average with the party of heroes doing minimal damage each turn. With no abilities (that I’ve found) to revive fallen comrades, I was relying on Galleo’s Mend ability fairly heavily. As the game progresses, however, this does level out – I would go as far as saying some of the later levels feel a little too easy.

If I had to pick one flaw with SteamWorld Quest, it would be that there isn’t enough of it. While not a short game by today’s standards – I completed it in just over ten hours – like the rest of the SteamWorld series of games, it left me wanting more. Truthfully, this is a testament to how good of a game it really is. It’s enjoyable, quirky, and well thought out.

During the later levels, you gain access to the Colosseum; a survival style mode where you face off against waves of enemies to earn loot while enforcing various caveats to each battle, such as all combatants gain weaknesses to all elemental damage. This can be accessed through the chapter select screen at any point and does extend the gameplay.

It’s no secret that I’m a SteamWorld fan, but I must confess I was hesitant when Quest was first announced. During the lead up to its release, I was won over by the charm that Image & Form are so good at portraying in their titles and from the first moment of gameplay I fell hopelessly in love with their Steam Bot universe once again. While the card battle system is not as in-depth as other titles (Baten Kaitos on the GameCube was always one of my favourites) it offers enough diversity to suite a number of playing styles and with over 100 different cards players are spoiled for choice. If you’re a fan of the SteamWorld series then I cannot recommend SteamWorld Quest enough; with that being said, even if you’re not a fan of the other games in the series you owe it to yourself to give it a go.

The Good
  • Over 100 battle cards which offer players tonnes of choice
  • Well written characters that are hard not to like
The Bad
  • I really wish there was more
  • In some of the later levels I feel a bit over-powered
Charming, colourful and addictive with fun characters and an enjoyable battle system
This review is based on playing the Nintendo Switch version of SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech that was kindly provided for review purposes by Image & Form.

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