Developed by:Image & Form Published by:Thunderful Genre(s):
  • RPG
  • Collectible Card Game
  • Platform:
  • Nintendo
  • Cost:$24.99 ESRB Rating:EVERYONE Players:1 Release date:April 25, 2019 Reviewed on:Switch

    SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech

    The one thing I can always count on with Image & Form is their penchant and courage to try something new. Though they’ve developed multiple titles set in the SteamWorld universe, they collectively encompass a range of genres. From tower defense to action adventure/platformers – this studio isn’t a one trick pony.

    What’s most notable though, is the quality of each game. Regardless of genre, they’re easily some of the best indie developed games around; I’ve been a fan of this series since SteamWorld Dig. The same can be said of Image & Form’s latest title, SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech.

    SteamWorld Quest is a card-based RPG that combines a Dungeons & Dragons vibe with the steampunk aesthetics this series is known for. Meaning, it features dragons and such alongside charming robots. It also sports well written dialogue – loaded with witty jokes and pop culture references – an entertaining gameplay loop, lovely visuals, and a fantastic soundtrack. Again, it’s an Image & Form title. Its story follows the exploits of Armilly, a bright-eyed knight-in-training, as she embarks on a quest for a magic mushroom. The quest itself isn’t the big deal (at first). Armilly’s goal is to become a hero and doing such tasks will help facilitate her dream. That said, it doesn’t take long for this seemingly reasonable trek to lead to something more concerning.

    Despite a few mundane sections and some stilted dialogue, the campaign is solid. I enjoyed the coming of age narrative; though the premise is nothing new, Image does a good job of making SteamWorld Quest feel unique. That said, the magic is in the gameplay (or rather, the combat) and how it utilizes a collectible card-based system.

    Don’t worry if games like Hearthstone or Magic the Gathering aren’t your bag. SteamWorld Quest puts its own spin on this sort of thing; the game doesn’t require you to build decks in the same fashion. Each character gets a deck of Punch-cards (because robots) that grows as the game progresses. Some of the cards are dropped from enemies. Others will be gained by completing missions. A bunch of them will be used for basic abilities – using items, attacking, etc. – that anyone can use, with the rest being specifically geared for each character. In other words, there isn’t a ton of guest work involved with “building” a good deck. You’ll typically have what you need to battle foes and such. That said, the decks are customizable; you’ll be able to purchase, upgrade and craft cards when the right currency/materials are present.

    The battles are all turned based. Though new faces join Armilly throughout her journey, only three characters can be in the active party at once. When encountering an enemy, players will be able to pull up to eight cards for each member of their party. Out of these eight, along with the basic shareable cards, six are randomly dealt to the player before the actual fighting starts. More of them are dished out on subsequent turns. The cards themselves determine what can be done at any moment. This doesn’t take away from the RPG elements though. SteamWorld Quest puts more emphasis on the turn-based mechanics above card collecting. Still, picking which one to use is more than just deciding when to heal or who to attack. Each punch-card counts an X amount of pressure to use. There are also unique abilities and synergy to consider. For example, Galleo’s water abilities pair nicely with Copernica’s electricity, delivering double the damage.

    While I won’t detail everything that players will learn over the course of the game, I can say that these assorted mechanics help to keep fights from becoming boring. Being able to swap cards (changing a character’s role between battles), power up attacks using multiples of the same card, synergizing skills – it all leads to an engrossing combat system. Adding to this is the fact that the game doesn’t dump tons of information on the player from the start. SteamWorld Quest does an amazing job of piecing together new abilities and such throughout Armilly’s journey.

    I mostly enjoyed most of my time playing SteamWorld Quest. There were moments, however, where I felt like I was just going through the motions. Exploring the world wasn’t fun. A lot of the maps are linear in design. Yet, I still had to walk back and forth in order to find treasure chests (usually housing an item needed to progress) which meant constantly fighting the same foes. Then there were the difficulty spikes. After easily defeating the same enemies over and over, I’d come up against a boss that would totally destroy my party. I found myself constantly reshuffling my characters’ decks to find the perfect combination needed to beat them. Basically, certain sections of the game felt like a real chore to complete.

    These few bumps in the road didn’t completely derail my experience. The fun combat/card systems, charming characters, and interesting story overshadows those aspects of the game. So much so, that I’m currently on my second play after upping the difficulty. There’s also the soundtrack. Given the developer, I’m not surprised at the fantastic music; If they ever offer up an LP collection of their tunes, I’ll be the first to buy. It’s that good.

    Image & Form absolutely jumped into the deep end, taking a chance on yet another genre. And life before, it mostly works. Here’s hoping that we get a sequel to SteamWorld Quest. I’d love to see how they refine what is probably one of the best Nindies I’ve played this year!



    SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech is a treat to play. This card-based RPG showcases a decent story and solid combat systems. There are a few sticking points when it comes exploration and random difficulty spikes though.



    The game sport colorful environments and distinctive, quirky hand drawn characters.



    The soundtrack holds up to previous SteamWorld entries. Release an LP please!

    Replay Value:


    While it helps that the game is just a blast to play (most of the time), the prospect of finding new cards/creating different combos to defeat enemies at a higher difficulty is enough to warrant multiple playthroughs.

    Final Score:


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