For years, Image & Form has been using their quirky robot-steampunk universe as a platform. In this world, they can make whatever game they want in whatever genre they feel like. From a Terraria Metroidvania to 2D XCOM, the Swedish studio clearly has an eclectic love of gaming. They also seem to have the talent to pull off their creative ambitions. With SteamWorld Quest, the series takes a resoundingly successful stab at a fantasy RPG. On paper, the setup presents nothing we haven’t all seen a thousand times before. However, in execution, SteamWorld Quest stumbles upon something wholly unique.
The lovable cast of characters immediately gives the adventure a great sense of charm. Their tale of friendship and heroism is timeless. Cheeky and light-hearted writing paves the way for a breezy adventure you won’t soon forget. The story centers around best-friends Armilly and Copernica. Armilly eagerly follows in the footsteps of Gilgamech, a legendary hero of robot folklore. The pair end up unraveling a dark conspiracy that leads them on an arduous journey. Along the way, they join up with new allies like the goofy Galleo and a mysterious masked figure.
The gang share a fun dynamic, especially the naive Armilly and the thoughtful Copernica in the lead roles. The writing never takes itself too seriously, laden with sharp puns that are impossible not to appreciate, like ‘Necronomicog’ and ‘Gilgamech’. Although it can get quite self-referential, it never over-steps into the realm of irritating or tiresome. The writing puts a fun spin on conventional fantasy tropes, too. For instance, instead of ancient, wise and honorable, druids are considered shady and deranged. If you appreciate fantasy fiction, SteamWorld Quest’s unique take should definitely be to your liking.
Crafting Your Own Deck in SteamWorld Quest
The turn-based combat revolves around a brilliant card system that’s easy to pick-up and rewarding to master. You can take three party members into combat, who each wield their own 8-card deck. This leaves you with 24 spells and abilities to randomly pull from during a scrap. A turn consists of playing a maximum of three cards from any hero. Cards are either free or cost Pressure. Cards that cost nothing are less effective and typically generate this resource. Meanwhile, those that cost Pressure are much more potent.
Balancing your deck is the key to success. Ensuring it has plenty of hard-hitting moves, as well as enough cards that generate pressure. Having too many expensive cards is the quickest path to defeat. Building and updating your decks is one of the most satisfying elements of SteamWorld Quest. There are a huge variety of cards throughout the game, each with wildly different effects. Some provide straight-up offense, whilst others create damaging afflictions, buffs, and debuffs, heals, and more. Mixing and matching your decks is a ton of fun.
Naturally, with all the status effects and crowd controls spells, the combat can get quite complex. It can get pretty tough, too. You’ll quickly find yourself struggling if you don’t stay on top of your decks and keep characters well-equipped. Although it seems straightforward at first, there’s actually a lot of depth. For example, firing out three cards from the same character will cause them to chain into a fourth item-dependent card. These abilities can be quite powerful, so it’s well-worth aiming for them wherever possible.
Lead a Party Throughout SteamWorld Quest
The option to speed-up animations makes the combat feel super snappy. It makes fights focused and quick, ensuring they don’t drag. It also lets you get straight down to the tactical excitement. You feel like a total badass as you queue up cards and line up chains in mere seconds. Of course, you can always appreciate the animations in all their glory, if you prefer. I found myself stopping to occasionally do that, especially whenever I’d be using. Characters and enemies smoothly glide around the battlefield as they perform their myriad of colorful abilities. It looks superb in motion.
Between combat encounters and story beats, you’ll explore gorgeous hand-drawn scenes. These environments encourage exploration and feature hidden chests, secrets, and divergent paths. Consequently, poking around is satisfying and rewarding. Save points serve as a central anchor to these locations. Using them will unlock a new checkpoint, heal your party, and bring enemies back to life. This allows you to grind out extra experience, gold, and crafting materials.
Eventually, you’ll unlock a fighter’s arena where you can hone your skills and earn some goodies. This challenging competition features a number of five-round tournaments. They grow increasingly difficult over time until eventually presenting some of the game’s toughest encounters. The arena features a rogue’s gallery of foes from throughout the adventure. There's also unique rules and limitations that make things tougher. The combat is superbly addicting, so I was more than willing to lap up every encounter SteamWorld Quest offered up.
SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech Review | Final Thoughts
In terms of presentation, SteamWorld Quest is superb. The fantastic art brings the world to life with its expressive detail. It looks especially sharp running in handheld mode, as well on a TV, where the colorful palate can properly shine. Meanwhile, an awesome soundtrack supports the stellar visuals. Intense and powerful guitar licks shred through boss fights. On the flip side, mysterious and inquisitive scores accompany alternative locations like the Alchemy college.
SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech is another consistently exciting and rewarding entry in the series. The light-hearted steampunk platform is proving itself to truly be a jack-of-all-trades. This stylish and charming RPG really shines thanks to its robust combat system and an incredible presentation. SteamWorld Quest is another resoundingly successful hit in a series that has seemingly no creative limits.
TechRaptor reviewed SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech on Nintendo Switch with a copy provided by the publisher.
Want to know more? Check out our Quick Thoughts on SteamWorld Quest embedded below!
- Fantastic Combat
- Charming Writing
- Wonderful Visual Style
- Awesome Soundtrack
- Occasional Frame Rate Dips During Combat