REVIEW: Goliath

After Crashing through a mysterious rift, a strange world filled with gigantic beasts is unveiled where you must build robots, or preferably, Goliaths of your own to survive while searching for a way back home.

Steam: Released
Type: Single-player
Genre: Action, RPG
Developer: Whalebox studio
Publisher: Octopus tree
Release date: 12 May, 2016

Quick look

The general idea of this game sounds great on paper, but it fails to deliver in practice. With far too many fetch quests that often seem completely pointless along with boring combat, playing this otherwise interesting game feels like a chore. During gameplay, I experienced some FPS drops that even turning down the graphic settings didn’t fix, mostly when there were more than six enemies on the screen. It gave me one more reason to avoid combat in a genre that has a big emphasis on combat in the first place. I did find the intriguing world an occasional pleasure to explore, though, with the wacky residents offering some fun moments.

Gameplay Video

Surviving in a new world

These Levels seem like islands floating in emptiness, enclosed in mountains. They feature different climates as well as randomized storms, creating one of the most interesting aspects of this game: Goliaths must be chosen accordingly to the climate. The Stone Goliath fares best under the burning sun of the desert, the Wood Goliath regenerates in water while the Iron Goliath rusts and moves extremely slow.

There’s a decent amount of customization while building our Goliaths, they are constructed from four main objects which have different parts featuring different stats to choose from.
New parts are unlocked by completing challenges ranging from simple “kill xx of monsters” to more complex ones like “Kill monster x with an unarmed goliath Y during a thunderstorm with a specific skill”. Personally, I’m not a fan of randomness in challenges like waiting for the right weather, it usually ends up taking a lot of time.

In order to survive and build Goliaths, we need to have a base for ourselves. We can build a few upgradeable crafting stations at fixed spots in our base. The base building aspect is very limited, unlike the amount of crafting materials and weapons. Our small inventory will clutter eventually from all the materials and weapons we acquire constantly. Every goliath-type uses different weapons and since the weapons have different elements, you will carry a lot of equipment with you if you want to be prepared for anything.

Our base of operations.

The dialogue is pleasant to read, with funny moments here and there. This game doesn’t take itself too seriously as it laughs at cliches and then uses them itself. It’s a shame that the numerous fetch and kill quests made me feel bored sometimes to where I could not concentrate on the reading, I just wanted to get things done already. There were multiple occasions where I had to circle around a mountain to get one item, just to circle it back again to deliver the said item back to the quest-giver. It’s especially frustrating with the poor navigation system on the minimap. The map does not often show the right route, instead it might try to direct you through a mountain, or just along some other strange and long route. Luckily, we have an arrow on the screen showing the right direction. After a while, I stopped looking at the minimap completely and followed the arrow. You do learn the levels pretty quickly, but when in a new map, the poor navigation system clearly shows. The fact that the world is nice to look at and explore (when not in combat!) compensates for the poor navigation a bit. It’s not always such a bad thing to venture off the beaten path, intentionally or not.

Speaking of venturing, controlling the Goliaths is easy and smooth, even though they look big, they move and turn sharply. This is a kind of double-edged sword as it adds to that lightweight feeling that I had during combat; they don’t feel or sound heavy. It breaks the immersion when your huge Goliath moves like a gymnast and his hits don’t sound like they’d pack a punch. Then again, it would be a bad thing if they felt heavy while moving around. I don’t even want to imagine those fetch quests with slow and heavy Goliaths.

Trolls aren’t so violent as they’re depicted.

Goliaths vs Beasts

The exploration is hindered by the combat, I missed many chests along the way because I just didn’t want to fight. There’s nothing wrong with the mechanics, it’s just bland. Sound effects do a poor job of depicting huge robots clashing with beasts. When a robot hits another the sound is very lightweight. I didn’t get the feeling that there’s a heavy iron fist striking the skulls of massive beasts. The Enemy AI would also benefit from a little tweak. They don’t venture inside the borders of our base, instead they just stop and start hanging out right outside, so that we can safely kill them with a ranged weapon. This can also be done on some hills where they don’t follow you. Attack patterns are also easy to learn, same attacks repeat throughout the game. Bosses look big and mean, but I had more trouble with some small mobs. Boss’s attacks are easy to dodge, score a few hits and repeat. A lengthy, but easy and uninteresting process.

I thought I was in for a hard fight with this big guy.

Every goliath-type has three unique skills, plus a special action when pressing spacebar. That might be a roll-out of harm’s way or activating a shield that reflects ranged attacks. We also have a decent variety of weapons to equip that offer different bonuses or elemental damage. Again, this all sounds good on paper but lacks in practice. It is hard to describe what is wrong with here as it has to be experienced to fully understand. The action feels slow compared to other ARPG’s and very plain in general. There should be more skills and faster combat to keep things interesting in the long run. Thankfully, our human character has a skill that renders him invisible for a short amount of time. I used it a lot, especially in dungeons where we just have to collect items and bring them back, again.

Should you buy it?

My suggestion is to only get this game right now if you’re into robots. There are a lot of better ARPG’s on the market. This game has a great idea but needs a lot of polishing on the combat and quest side of gameplay. The only thing that this game offers is the robot building aspect. It might appeal to serious robot fans even though the system is really simple, there aren’t many games around like that. I’ve played a vast amount of ARPG’s along the years and they’re among my favorite genres. From what I see, all the usual aspects of what makes ARPG’s great or enjoyable, aren’t here. I rate this game a Pause, because of the boring combat and pointless fetch quests which form the majority of the game.

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June 2017

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