Monday, June 3

Review: Golem Gates [Nintendo Switch eShop]

While strategy games have gotten a fair amount of representation on the Switch there’s still quite obviously room for people to shake things up. Real-time strategy fans have a few options out there, but there hasn’t been a break out star to this point necessarily. With its own take on this genre Golem Gates impresses with pretty cool-looking graphics and a blend of real-time action with a deck building component. That does help it stand out but there are definitely some caveats you’ll need to concern yourself with before you take the plunge.

In the game you control the Harbinger, a powerful being with some heavenly backing who is trying to destroy the Golem Gates and regain control of a series of regions… or something like that. What you need to know is that there are areas with resources you want to control, and opposing forces that will stand in your way, requiring that you use some strategy to grow your zone of control and dominate in order to continue on your campaign. Of course beyond the core campaign you’ll then have the option to engage in other modes that include specific challenge scenarios, a survival mode you can tackle solo or with a friend, and even online multiplayer.

On paper the mix of deck building, choosing your units, buildings, and various supports, and real-time strategy is interesting. Rather than being part of a faction with a set collection of units to work with you can custom tailor your own over time as you acquire new cards. If you’re patient and work through things little by little this can work out nicely, and you’ll certainly have different ways you can choose to go, but you’re going to have to get through what ends up being some pretty muddy play along the way.

While the game does work on Switch it’s obvious that the interface and experience were tuned around the use of a mouse and keyboard on PC and not a controller. Navigating the menus and controlling your units quickly can be done but using both joysticks and the buttons on both sides of the controller is hardly ideal. Another problem has to do with the visual design of the units, which honestly look far too similar making their management at a strategic level challenging. Even their cards, which do look a bit different and each has the unit name tied to them, don’t end up typically being much help when you’re trying to quickly set up an offensive or some defense, you’re just going to put units on the ground quickly and hope for the best. Throw in pretty consistent performance issues even with the game’s somewhat muddy appearance overall and it’s a bit of a mess.

In the end, though Golem Gates has ambition it simply has some issues and its performance overall isn’t helping anything. I’m sure it likely looks pretty decent at full resolution on the PC but on the Switch it’s obvious compromises had to be made, yet it still runs into problems at times. It has a promising idea, blending two different types of strategy games into one, but the lack of adequate differentiation of your units on the battlefield will typically just have you resorting to amassing a mob and moving it around trying to conquer checkpoints and ultimately your enemy. If you’re a big strategy fan it may be worth checking out but otherwise you’ll want to steer clear.

Score: 5

  • A novel mix of two strategy styles into one
  • In terms of content if you enjoy the core gameplay you’ll have a fair amount to work your way through

  • Visually everything is quite muddy, making differentiation of your units difficult at best
  • Even with the compromises performance can be a real issue at times
  • As much as the game may be trying to be different the result still feels pretty generic