Switch version tested
Review code provided
The often-overlooked RTS genre has slowly begun to pick up steam on the Nintendo Switch. The latest entry to make its presence know is Golem Gates. Developer, Laser Guided Games was not content making a standard RTS clone in the vein of stalwarts like Command & Conquer or the Starcraft series, instead, they opted to marry the RTS mechanics with recently popular deck building style in an attempt to create something unique.
You play as the Harbinger, a character seemingly ripped from pages of Destiny’s lore. The Sci-Fi, post-apocalyptic world is hard to ignore. The dark lighting over the metallic world leaves just enough to the imagination as you battle for survival with the ultimate goal being to close the titular Golem Gates. Sparks fly as the warring factions engage in combat on the battlefield. Unfortunately, the camera being pulled back mixed with the overall darkness of the design leads to a lot of confusion. More often than not, I found my self losing track of my forces during battles often resorting to playing an area effect card (called Glyphs) in order to highlight my enemies. The character design is done well but also suffers again from the camera placement. You are never able to really enjoy the visual design of the individual units and it’s clear a lot of effort went into their creation.
Gameplay wise, GG is fantastic. RTS’ have had a hit or miss feel on consoles due to the controller being much more limited as opposed to a mouse and keyboard. Great care was taken into designing the controls to fit. The Switch shines again, by allowing for touch screen inputs as well. The opening level serves as a tutorial acclimating the player to the control scheme. In addition, it also introduces players to the main mechanic of deck management. GG gives you a starter deck of cards (Glyphs) that you expand upon through end of level rewards and even crafting. Each of the glyphs has an energy requirement in order to play them, thus forcing you to strategically capture energy nodes to produce more energy as well as faster. When you enter a battle your deck is shuffled and random cards are drawn. Consisting of offensive units, traps, perks, and defensive turrets. The true beauty really shines here as you are forced to adjust your strategy on the fly. Every game plays out differently as you are not in control of what cards you have at any given moment. Protecting the Harbinger, while completing your goals quickly escalates into a tense game of resource management as you build defences for the Harbinger, amass an army to secure energy nodes and assault the enemy. The enemy also has a deck of glyphs at their disposal and just as you seemingly have a small skirmish in hand reinforcements can appear to quickly turn the tide. Player units suffer from tracking issues from time to time, getting stuck behind turrets instead of completing their routes. This did not occur often and usually worked itself out within a few seconds, but on a few occasions left a unit exposed to attack and unable to respond.
Offline GG consists of 15 campaign missions with an adequate story. The guts of this title are in the other modes. The Trials mode consists of various challenges that will test even the most battle-hardened RTS generals. Imagine instead of starting your battle with your deck, you must traverse the map and piece it together 1 by 1 in order to survive. In addition, a Survival mode is also included tasking the player with outlasting the enemy onslaught as the timer slowly depletes. Finally rounding out the suite of modes is the PVP online. Here players are given the option for 1v1 skirmishes across a hand full of maps as well as 2v2. The real standout, however, is the 4 player free for all. Here, 4 players battle to be the last one standing. There is a limitless amount of fun and play to be had here as seen in the single player campaign you can control your deck, but not how it’s dealt. The developers went a step further to ensure this mode was always accessible by allowing AI bots to participate so that you always have access to this mode.
Audio wise, GG is fined tuned orchestra. The dark foreboding voice work excellently complements the visual design while equally creating a setting impending doom. The sweeping soundtrack feels right at home as it seemingly ebbs and flows to the onscreen action. Thundering explosions echo off the mechanical landscapes as the combatants wage a war for control of the maps.
Golem Gates is the RTS Nintendo Switch owners have been waiting for. Minor annoyances with the unit confusion due to camera placement and units getting stuck behind emplacements do little spoil fun. The package is jam-packed with content in both online and offline variety. Stradling the line of RTS and Deck Building makes for a fresh take on both.
TBG Score: 8/10
Platform: Steam, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 31/05/2019
No. of Players: 1-4
Developer: Laser Guided Games, LLC
Download link: eShop