SteamWorld Quest (Quest) is the newest game in the beloved SteamWorld series. Quest takes the form of a RPG mixed with a card game. Image&Form are no strangers to trying unique and different styles, and most attempts have come out to be great games. SteamWorld has been described as “the best” and “most consistent” indie series by a few different people. I have little experience with the world of SteamWorld myself as I’ve only played Dig, and Dig 2. I’ve not even beaten them, so will Quest hold up to the standard of Image&Form?
You are Armilly, a village girl who just wants to join the guild of heroes! One day out adventuring with your alchemist friend, you get wrapped up in a huge adventure with the partner of the ancient hero Gilgamech. Quest’s story gets much deeper, but for the purposes of this review I’ll leave it completely spoiler-less. I enjoyed Quest’s story for the most part, however, some characters feel like their lines are ripped from YouTube comment sections, bland, outlandish, and trying too hard to be funny. With the time I spent with Quest, the story is what kept me coming back, and I think fans of the SteamWorld series will get a huge kick out of it.
Quest’s gameplay is sort of split off into two types, inside and outside of battle. Outside of battle, the game feels very much like a Beat-Em-Up, which I don’t like at all, so I didn’t enjoy the time spent outside of battle. You can swing at objects, uncover chests, and explore what little world the developers have laid out for you. Let me emphasis that real good for you: EXPLORE WHAT LITTLE WORLD THE DEVELOPERS HAVE LAID OUT FOR YOU. Outside of battle, the “chapter” or level system segregates the world and makes it feel small, unorganized, and inorganic. Quest would’ve benefited a lot by having a larger connected world, or even a few smaller worlds. As it stands, it felt like it was wasting my time, and there is little overlap between the parts of areas you visit.
So how does the battle system work and is it any good? You set up a deck of eight cards for each character, and a card from that deck is randomly drawn for you to potentially use on that turn. Three characters are active in the field, meaning you really have a full deck of twenty-four cards. However, only a few cards are selectable for any individual turn, as such your hand can be really bad which will screw you over big time. RNG systems like this should not be present in RPGs; I was killed because of it multiple times, and it’s something I absolutely despise. I’d crank BattleToads up on NES with 1 hit point, 1 life, one continue, and play it on a flat screen TV before touching this for fun. It was infuriating, difficult, and not worth the effort of dealing with a bad roll of the dice in my opinion.
So, can I let you in on a little secret? I didn’t finish the game, I got close, damn close, so close I could feel it more than the one sick kid who knows their about to throw up in their crush’s desk. I got to the fight the game wants you to think is the final boss, and couldn’t beat it. I don’t even trust that fight is the final boss, because the game outright lies to you a lot. I didn’t trust the game at all after the introduction of Act 4, which brings to light a whole other issue with this game entirely, it’s too long, longer than Bowser on viagra (Editor’s Note: Oh sweet baby jesus. My fucking brain, that image that’s forever burned into my fucking brain… goddamnit suprio, I’ll be billing you for therapy).
So what about those boss battles? They were mostly decent, and definitely challenging. I felt sometimes it was too easy to get locked with impossible to overcome status conditions and unavoidable damage. Overall, the boss battles were mostly my favorite parts of Quest, I’m happy they were plentiful until the end of my road with the game. As much as I’d like to put on a IndieGamerChick face and say “This is all horrible blah blah blah” I can’t, there were some good moments.
At three hours, I was extremely disinterested with Quest, at thirteen hours, I was screaming “WHEN THE $%^& WILL THIS END”. If someone were to ask me “Did you like anything about this game”, I would say “Yeah it’s gorgeous”. Image&Form always gets the best of what they can, the same is certainly true here. Sometimes in animation things can look a bit wonky, but you get used to it after a while. How is the music? To be honest, I couldn’t tell you, I never noticed it once. The only emotions I experienced were disinterest and anger, which block out most other surroundings for me with things like game music. The same is true for Tiny Barbarian, and SkyScrappers.
Speaking of Tiny Barbarian and SkyScrappers, is Quest anywhere near as bad as them? Most definitely not, Quest has a lot of elements that could’ve been great, but they fell flat on their face. How would I improve Quest? Well, remove the RNG of the deck and let the player control the order cards come into your hand. With that one change, I would be singing a drastically different tune about this game. For more quality of life changes though, allowing instant transportation to the shop would be nice and I think being able to slow down and speak with your party members would be awesome!
Quest is the biggest indie disappointment I’ve felt, and I was a hardcore Mega Man fan in the age of Mighty Number 9. I went in to Quest wanting to love it, and expecting to as well. I love RPGs, even if I suck at managing the time to play them! An RPG by Image&Form was a dream come true announcement for me, but this isn’t something I’d want to play, or recommend (Editor’s Note: Yeah I understand this, I prefer RPGs over most CCG RPGs myself, when you mix CCG into it, it bumps up the RNG massively. The moment you get unlucky, it just seems to pile on and feels unfair, but CCG fans will probably appreciate it more).
A Switch review copy was provided by the developer
supiroguy has not awarded SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech The Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval