Have you ever listened to someone try to explain a concept to you, and you can tell as they go on that something is missing because the person describing that idea has it thought out in their head, but hasn’t coherently thought about how to put words to it? That’s Goliath in a nutshell.
Goliath is an open world game about building mech suits to fight creatures much larger than yourself. While traveling in this world, you meet different factions who could aid you, and you must do everything you can to find your lost companion.
The story follows a pilot who crash-landed on this strange world. He comes into contact with another pilot over the radio but learns that he’s on another shard of this broken world altogether. In this strange dimension there are several shards of the planet, and on each shard here are several environments which you can teleport to. Just looking at the map of where you could go is rather daunting. There are dozens of places you can go, which gives Goliath loads of content, to say the least.
The most interesting part of the game are your Goliaths, mech suits that you make out of resources from the environment. You start off with wood, then stone, and you can make your way up to steel and so on. What’s cool is that each mech has different effects based on the environment. For example, the wooden Goliath can heal itself when it’s raining or when it’s in water, but in hot conditions it takes damage. So if you need to get through a hot or inflamed area, you would want to use a stone Goliath, which gets stronger in hot areas. I like how this is used in the game, especially when I learned I can upgrade my Goliaths so that they react differently without changing their materials. The wood Goliath, for example, can get a charred wood upgrade so that it’s resistant to fire! Every Goliath can act differently so having a few for different environments or situations can make for really creative scenarios.
While Goliath has some nice conceptual ideas, ideas will only get you so far.. What matters is how you present the content, and I’m very disappointed to say that the execution for Goliath is just awful. The game runs at a horrible framerate, consistently less than 30 FPS, and when it autosaves, the game can freeze for a few seconds at a time. From beginning to end, nothing about playing Goliath was enjoyable.
Combat is disappointing to say the least. It’s more or less a button masher, switching between light and heavy attacks as needed. Each of the five Goliaths has three unique abilities, which actually can come in handy during boss fights or when you’re overwhelmed. I found myself avoiding combat altogether, and with the Crystal Goliath, which can teleport forward, I just ran through most of the areas.
The story is worthless and the script is just badly written. The main character has no real personality, coupled with the fact that the dialogue is terrible. On the rare (meaningless) occasions where you get to choose what you want to say, it basically boils down to “Lets fight!”, “I’d rather not fight” or “Let’s talk later.” The story has no real tension as it’s just one fetch quest after another, and even the main character expresses annoyance as every NPC he talks to takes him on a detour around the planet.
Goliath claims to be an open world game where you have to scavenge for materials, but materials are everywhere and there was never a struggle to get what I needed. Despite having an incredibly large world to explore, each zone is small, and you’re guided through it by a single story, and that is honestly the worst offense in this game. Goliath has one single, tedious story for you to play through. There’re a few sidequests, but there is one overarching quest that dictates what you should be doing. Goliath is so linear that an hour into the game and I wasn’t sure if I was still in the tutorial or not. There was one rewarding aspect to exploring, and that was that I found NPCs, who I could save and have join my encampment, who in turn offered new services.
What’s more, the promises of “factions” are the biggest lie I’ve seen so far. There are different groups, Orcs, Foxes, Troll Merchants, Rats, and mechanical people called the Created, but only the Foxes, Trolls, and the Created matter. I had to build a reputation with all three of these factions, and then I was told to join one near the end of the game, but it didn’t change ANYTHING. I could still visit the other factions; I wasn’t at war with them, and I didn’t gain anything from joining one in particular! With the promise of factions, I wanted to be able to choose which group I aligned with the most, and in Goliath, I made friends with everyone with no repercussions.
Goliath has nice ideas, and there is a lot of ground to cover conceptually here. However, nothing about the game’s design ended up working. The story is just painful to read. The combat isn’t fun. The user interface is frustrating and missing some very simple design choices (like having chests disappear from the map after being opened, or the ability to auto organize your inventory). Despite having many worlds to explore, there’s little point to exploring when there is just a single straightforward campaign and very few actual sidequests. Goliath is a very frustrating experience that I can’t recommend to anyone. Even with the promise of updates in the future, it’s going to take more than slight revisions to fix this game.
Goliath was reviewed on PC via Steam with a code provided by the publisher.
Goliath is an ambitious project. While a lot of its design ideas are really interesting, the execution of those ideas failed at every turn.