Written by Remko Molenaar (Proxzor)
Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you threw a real-time strategy game together with a card collecting game and combined them? Golem Gates might just be the game to show you that outcome. This concept isn’t entirely new when it comes to card games these days. We’ve seen a lot of games have a go at these two genres, but unfortunately none of them really have that special charm that makes players stick to it. While Golem Gates does its best to have a card system in place, the real-time strategy aspect of the game is where it really shines.
Before I talk about the game, I really want to talk about the audio, more specifically the music. It’s not a subject I bring up a lot, because most of the time more time and effort is put into other parts of the game. Usually the audio is somewhat lacking, especially when it comes to MMO’s that we usually cover. But Golem Gates throws you into this special ambiance where you can tell you just got dropped into a special war, and because of its very interesting style, intrigues you to find out more. It’s got the right feel to it, and the music is the cherry on the cake, a finishing touch on the whole package. I want to give kudos to Laser Guided Games because it isn’t often that I am amazed by the sound blasting through my headphones.
Onto the rest of the game. You are the harbinger, and you are called upon to clean the infected land. You have the ability to manipulate and command nanites from the ash, a power that is leftover manifesting itself in the barren world’s atmosphere. Together with the combination of your deck you get to bring up units, traps, structures, and even abilities to deal with the dangers laying ahead. But Golem Gates isn’t your usual card game. You start out with a deck that you can switch cards out from, in the hope to get better replacement cards in return. You don’t have to deal with turn based combat, or have to be a chess expert to play this game. While the game does feel a lot more casual than other real time strategy games, Golem Gates is still a very active game.
Depending on the mission, challenge, or game mode you select, you will have a few steps for completing a game. At the start you as the Harbinger spawn on one side of the map, and have to work your way forwards by slowly capturing more zones, and destroying your enemy’s tech. While there are a lot of different missions and game modes, most of them come down to the exact same objective. For the most part they look very similar when it comes to completing the objective, but depending on the size of the map there might be an extra step here or there. It all comes down to slowly advancing forward, capturing the nodes, and making sure the enemy force or enemy harbinger is stopped in its path and you are slowly pressuring him backwards.
This is where Golem Gates falls short a bit. There are plenty of challenges and missions to attempt, and even the extensive Campaign that is enjoyable, but more of the same. It feels a little like after you have done all of this, there isn’t a whole lot more that you can do besides play the random skirmishes against the computer. Now this isn’t necessarily the game’s fault, because we see this a lot in most real-time strategy games. Because the game itself is so simple, though, it has to rely heavily on the cards system for the meta to keep it interesting in the long run. While the card system definitely proves to be enjoyable, not too hard to understand, and slow enough so you cannot really rush the game and ‘cheese’ it like you can in some of the strategy games, most of the time playing your deck is somewhat linear. The cards may be randomly drawn, but you cannot really run out of cards in the long run. When you have used up all of your cards, your harbinger can reload them in exchange for staying put for fifteen seconds, and then you can have another go with the exact same deck that you built. I would’ve rather had a smaller deck like most card games, and have the player forced to play more tactically and come up with a strategy before heading into battle. Right now, in most game modes you just spawn as many units as you possible can, and only get to think strategically what you do with your turrets and other tech such as the abilities.
Golem Gates isn’t very old, and does have a bit of a price tag to it. It is a bit difficult to find an open lobby with someone else to play against. While this isn’t uncommon with real time strategy games, since it unfortunately is a dying genre, it’s a bit of a shame I had no one to really test my decks against. While the computer proves to be a worthy opponent, it doesn’t really scratch that itch of measuring how well you’re doing and feeling good about yourself when you do win a game. The people who played the game and wrote a review on Steam are over 90% positive about the game itself, so I hope that the game gets into the spotlight soon and kicks off into an interesting online multiplayer game.
Not only is the audio absolutely magnificent, but the graphics are definitely worth a mention. The visual effects both in the lobby and in the actual game are done right. Immediately you feel like you just launched into a game, not some simple, early access, bare bone game that only had its foundation built while the rest is still being worked on. Golem Gates looks properly done, both in sound and graphics. But while I do sound overly positive, Golem Gates also comes with a set of issues. The gameplay itself feels great: It plays well and even functions such as Attack Moving is in the game. While this isn’t a lot to ask for, a lot of strategy games do not think about the functionality of the game, and how simple it should be to steer your units into battle. This is where the issues come to light. While it is easy to send your units into battle, it feels like sometimes they don’t quite want to do what you’re telling them. The pathing sometimes makes them do an extra circle around a structure, or instead of moving forward its like they’re ice skating but haven’t figured out how to keep their skates straight. Even the Harbinger itself can sometimes look like he isn’t quite getting it, and this is a little disappointing since pathing has to be essential when it comes to a real time strategy’s gameplay.
Conclusion: Great (4/5)
RTS done right. While it does have its issues here and there, it’s not game breaking and I’m sure can be fixed with a patch here and there.
Golem Gates isn’t a perfect game, and even though I sound very positive, it does come with its quirks and issues. If you can overlook these simple issues, Golem Gates really shines above a lot of other games we see these days. The combination of the card game style into a real time strategy game like this is done extremely well, but it could do with some tweaking and balancing. While visually the game is beautiful and the sound and music are like Hans Zimmer himself helped making them, Golem Gates does need that extra element to the formula to become the perfect mixture for a strategy game: And that is more players. I loved doing the campaign, and challenges, and while most of the objectives are simple, Golem Gates is fun enough to play with and against the computer, and proves to be quite the challenge at times. Once that content dries a little up, you want more of it, actual human battles. One might wonder where the audience is, while everyone is mostly ecstatic about the game, not many are buying into it. Perhaps the game is a little too high prices? One can only speculate, but from what I’ve seen so far, every penny is worth it.
Note: A game key was provided for review purposes.