[Review] Golem Gates – Nintendo Switch

Written by Alex Laybourne
  • Developer: Laser Guided Games
  • Publisher: Digerati
  • Release Date: 31/05/2019
  • Price: £22.49 / $24.99
  • Review code provided by Digerati

Prepare to Face the Golem Gates

A dark hellish world that combines real-time strategy with deck building for a fully immersive experience trying to save a world from encroaching darkness. If that sounds like something that runs up your alley, then read on, because Golem Gates could very well be the game for you.

Golem Gates is a game that tries to redefine the context of several different game genres. A self-confirmed blend of post-apocalypse and sci-fi presented in a deck building, real-time tactics strategy game that can be played solo or in the online world of PVP death matches. Originally released on Steam to great acclaim – a 9 out of 10 on Metacritic – it was released on Nintendo Switch this year. Is it a good version of the game? Is it a worthy addition to your Switch collection? Keep reading to find out.

Harness the Power of the Ash to Conjure Ancient Machines

You are the harbinger, and it is your task to lead your army of ancient machines into battle and take down the evil Golem Gates.
In order to do this, you must harness the power of the Ash, which exists in the burned out atmosphere of your dying world. The only way you can do this is to use energy, the only material in the game you need to, or can, collect. Energy builds up over time and can be spent to summon any of the machines from your card deck. Once summoned these machines will do your bidding and fight the good fight in the name of reclaiming the world.

Each card in your deck, or Glyph, costs a set amount of energy, and which ones your summon at which time is where the strategic element of the game really shines. Littered throughout each stage are generators. Seize control of a generator and your energy gain rate will increase, thus allowing you to summon your bigger, more effective glyphs. Summon on the move as you take the fight the golems, but don’t forget about your defenses. Don’t leave your harbinger unguarded, or forget about your controlled generators because the golems are not ones to sit on their laurels. The will send an army of warriors your way in an effort to stop you and win the war for good.

Overall the gameplay for Golem Gates is solid. It runs really well on the switch, and the combat, presented in a top-down format works well. The stage opens up as you explore, with enemy units hidden until you stumble across them. The one drawback was that while building your deck involved some thought as to what cards to build and when there was little in the way of true collaboration between the cards. Attack seemed to be the best form of defense, and while that made for an all-out action kind of game, the strategy element could have greatly benefited more from forcing you to spend more time thinking about what you were leaving behind rather than focusing solely on what lay ahead. Still, in the online multiplayer mode that might be more of a thing, but during the playing of this game for review, I was not able to find many online opponents that I could challenge.

Note – Golem Gates had only been out a few days, so the player base on Switch was small at that time.

Game Modes and Challenges

There are three core gameplay modes you can enjoy. Campaign mode that sees you fight back against the golem and drive your forces deeper and deeper into the world. Each skirmish gives you a set goal to complete, which revolves around destroying targets and ultimately a Golem Gate. In total there are fifteen challenges and a tutorial that teaches the basics of the game. As you would expect, each challenge ups the ante a little in terms of the necessary strategy and overall difficulty to complete.

The second game mode is a challenge based system where you are given an objective to complete in exchange for a set of rewards. Completing either a campaign or a challenge will reward you in some way. Either with coins or new glyphs. Every player starts with a base deck of 34 glyphs and with a total of 100 to collect there is definitely an incentive to keep pushing for that next reward. You can also collect multiple of the same glyph and use them to build up your deck before you start your next game. This allows a great degree of customization and allows you to alter your deck based on your preferred game style. From all-out attack to defensive and opportunistic, you can set your deck accordingly.

The final game mode is the online multiplayer component. This will see you pitted on the battlefield against another opponent. Two harbingers using the power of the Ash in a fight to the death. One nice touch was that while waiting for a live opponent to be found, you can play a practice game against a computer AI that alters itself based on your own game rank and experience.

At the time of review, the online component was the weakest as there were no opponents around for me to match up with. If playing the game online versus friends, then this would be a fun experience. There is also an online co-op survival mode but it was not possible to create a match during at the time of writing due to inactivity on the server. If the online mode could get a boost it would add a large extra dynamic to the game and open a world of possibilities for leveling, rankings and more.

Get a Glimpse of a Post-Apocalyptic World

The game looks great. It presents the battlefield in a top-down perspective but does so with great detail and each character is highly polished and individual. It is easy to tell from a glance which unit is what. It is clear that a lot of attention as paid to the graphical element of the game because not just the central harbinger looks great but because each glyph has been created with care. From the way they look and act to how they move gels nicely and certainly helps to draw the player into the tension of the game. The word around you is rich in detail albeit lacking in color. It makes sense because of the setting, but having every level consist of dark colors, grey, blacks, browns, and reds, makes things a little monotone after a while. While bright and colorful battlefields would not fit the style, a little more variety would have pleased the visual palette somewhat.

The voice acting in the game was, on the whole, very good. The deep base tones and sinister whispering helped to create the right atmosphere. It might have been nice to have a little more emotion or variance to the vocal work but again, it fit for the game and the game made it work, so no major complaints. The sound effects from the battle were the standard fare. There was nothing special or remarkable about them, but they were more than acceptable.

Think Fast and React Even Faster in Order to Live

The game plays very well on the Switch, and the controls make good use to the dual analog sticks on both the joy-cons and the pro controller. The frame rate was smooth, especially in docked mode, which is really the best way to play this title. If not just for the bigger screen and better overview of the battle, then for the standard performance improvements that exist when comparing the two playing styles.

Golem Gates is a strong game and the entire package is well represented. At the end of the day, the core component is the battle element and that is by far the most enjoyable aspect. Exploring the worlds, looking to find the best path was nice, but combat is where it is all at in this game. It’s just a shame that the card deck you create is so individual, it was a let down that ultimately may impact the enjoyment for those coming into this game from deck building rather than an RTS gaming background.

Pros

  • Fun battle mechanics
  • Customization of battle deck
  • Attention to detail in the design of the glyphs and machines
  • The tone of the game was near perfect
  • The audio was high quality and well put together

Cons

  • Lack of continuity between battle deck cards
  • Poor online activity
  • The monotonous colour scheme of the levels

Verdict
Golem Gates is a high octane game that delivers on all fronts. Do you have what it takes to stand up to the Golem Gates and win?
4/5

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