SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech

SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech ends up being pleasantly enjoyable as a whole, displaying a good deal of competence in the building of all parts that constitute it. It is true that, when all of these elements come together, what is formed is an experience that – inside the RPG genre – does not quite produce ripples as strong as those generated by Dig and Heist in their respective niches, which makes the game’s overall impact feel somewhat subdued in relation to those caused by its peers. Nonetheless, even if it does not put a fight against the major actors of the role-playing field, SteamWorld Quest qualifies as another successful venture by Image & Form, because its plot flows nicely and stars likable heroes; its technical features exhibit a quality in production that feels like a new frontier for the SteamWorld property; and its card-based battling mechanics are original and flexible. Due to that, regardless of how it does not possess the makings of one of those special indie effort that challenge products made by much larger companies, SteamWorld Quest is likely to satisfy those that are already converted to the franchise and lure in a batch of new fans.

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SteamWorld Dig 2

SteamWorld Dig 2 is everything fans could have wanted from a sequel. It looks fantastic, features a soundtrack that makes the mystery and danger of the mines resonate, and fixes the punctual issues of its predecessor while polishing the rough gameplay edges that existed. By combining the usual Metroidvania quest for new gear with tighter sections of puzzle-solving and platforming, it builds its own character and shows that indie ventures into that established genre can be more than simple homages to Metroid and Castlevania. There is still room for new discoveries out there, and if developers are able to find them and make them their own, it is possible to create adventures that, instead of being seen as minor diversions to pass the time while the big franchises do not deliver the goods, can comfortably stand side by side with those juggernauts.

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SteamWorld Heist

Being original is not exactly new to the SteamWorld saga, but Heist comes off as the culmination of a process in which Image & Form’s developers slowly gained more confidence in their product and, therefore, progressively felt more comfortable to tackle new ideas. Tower Defense approached a style that is frequently explored by smaller developers, but with a few curious twists in setting and gameplay; Dig used Metroid’s general structure as the starting point for the construction of something relatively new; and Heist dares to throw most influences out the window to create its own sandbox.

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SteamWorld Dig

SteamWorld Dig has, since its release, garnered numerous comparisons to the Metroid saga, and such parallels do make some sense. Like Samus, the protagonist is roaming through hostile dark caves that hide a secret and that exhale an air of ominous danger and mystery; moreover, the deeper Rusty digs – and he will indeed do a whole lot of digging – the sturdier his equipment needs to be in order to deal with the threats that lurk in the dark and with the obstacles that stand in his way. However, the similarities end there, as SteamWorld Dig – much to its benefit and to the delight of gamers that decide to jump into these mines – lifts itself from that familiar launchpad to build its own character with a good degree of success.

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