Golem Gates – Nintendo Switch
Developed By : Laser Guided Games
Published By : Digerati
Category : Strategy, Multiplayer
Release Date : May 31, 2019
Reviewed by: Shaun Hughes
With 100 cards, an extensive single-player campaign, challenge scenarios, and online and local co-op, Golem Gates is nothing if not brimming with content. Focused on providing a strategy title both unique and inventive, Laser Guided Games and Digerati have combined to offer Nintendo Switch owners the latest in card-battler-cum-action-strategy with Golem Gates.
Beginning with the obligatory tutorial for a game of this nature, Golem Gates introduces you to the Harbinger and the Glyph book. These two are pivotal to the success of your mission, with the former being the difference between failure and celebration. If the Harbinger dies, the mission is over. The Glyph book displays the Glyphs available to you, and these act as the cards of which you can select and make use of in battle – the Glyphs are created on the fly using energy that is garnered during the game.
Using the directional buttons, you select from the Glyphs at your disposal and apply them in-game. There are a whole host of options available, and these can be anything from infantry to stat upgrades, amongst many more. In real-time, you command your units to defeat the enemies that appear through the use of a cursor and ‘A’. You can either navigate a small set of troops or all of those in your party, depending upon the scenario and the strategy you wish to deploy. The Glyphs may also include tactics that you yourself can deploy using the cursor and this can heavily influence the battlefield.
As you defeat the waves of enemies, Control Points can be captured by situating your combatants near to it. A meter appears that needs to fill in order to successfully own it. These control points, or generators as they are commonly known, allow you to gain the energy required to forge Glyphs at a quicker rate. The key to success lies in your ability to manage and utilise the resources available to you, whilst also commanding generators and using the Glyphs to alter the course of the mission.
Are y’all harbinger a good time?
As well as hordes of enemies, the opposing team also have their own Harbinger which needs to be destroyed in order for the game to be completed. If you are struggling to keep up, you’ll be pleased to know the HUD is just as busy as the gameplay itself. Along the left-hand side are your troops, and the bottom represents the Glyphs you can use. On the right, there is a mini-map which proves useful in locating generators and the Harbinger itself – indicated by a star. Over the course of the single-player campaign, the role of the Harbinger can differ, which supports the notion of RTS titles as requiring quick-thinking, planning and due diligence. This was an excellent inclusion and one the game benefits from where replayability is concerned.
It is, then, rather unfortunate that the mention of replayability does not extend far enough to warrant a recommendation by itself. In the tutorial alone, it became clear to me that attack is the best form of defence. Whilst I often relate this saying to a game of FIFA, I felt that in the missions I encountered in the campaign, the best course of action was to maximise offensive attributes and Glyphs in order to march on the generators. Quick accumulation of generators resulted in a much easier affair and soon became a method I was deploying time and again, regardless of the mission at hand.
Luck of the draw…
With that in mind, one of the biggest grievances I had with Golem Gates was the random nature of the Glyphs in your deck at any one time. I often found myself short of party members, and without them, the battle was lost. With the nucleus of the title being one of strategy and combat, it seemed odd to remove the opportunity to plan ahead. It became frustrating as the battle advanced, as I would lose my army and have nothing to replace them with, purely out of sheer luck of the draw.
As well as randomised Glyph generation, I also found that I felt too far-removed from the action. Even when docked, I was often looking for a zoom function so I could see more of what was happening. With the fighting occurring in close-proximity for the most part, it was difficult to decipher what was happening until it was too late. This, when coupled with the issue of friendly fire when blasting a fireball at the warring factions meant that I never felt truly in control – this can become a stumbling block when playing a game focused so heavily on strategy.
Gives with one hand, takes with the other…
Both a blessing and a curse, the visuals are moody, dark and ominous. It looks fantastic, and sets the tone for the war that ensues. Unfortunately, what it gives with one hand, it takes with the other, as the atmospheric aesthetics make for an even greater challenge when trying to watch the action unfold. I liked the colour and the lighting mechanics, but without the option to focus in on the action, these proved more of a hinderance than anything else.
Alluded to at the beginning of this review, Golem Gates does have a fantastic amount of content. The challenge scenarios offer an alternative to the single-player campaign and the option to play with others is always welcome. I really liked the Trials as they allowed me to dip in and out, with a focused ten or fifteen minutes worth of game time being enough to complete some of the challenges. For those seeking a real-time strategy title, you would get many hours from Golem Gates, be it in small doses or much longer gaming sessions. That being said, the lack of variety means only the most die-hard of gaming strategists would bleed it dry of all that is available.
With only two titles to their name to date, Laser Guided Games have made a solid start to their time as a game development team. Whilst I wanted to like Golem Gates more, and I had hoped it would be better suited to the Nintendo Switch, there is enough evidence here of a team that is going places. Golem Gates will be an acquired taste, and one I enjoyed for a short while, but do not expect anything ground-breaking or steeped in strategy.