It's easy to fall head over heels for the SteamWorld games and that's no secret. The first SteamWorld Dig had us spellbound from the start, and we finished the game in our first sitting and didn't even blink before jumping into the next playthrough. The second SteamWorld Dig took the concept to new levels, and we've played SteamWorld Heist across a multitude of platforms as it steadily made its way onto new devices after the initial 3DS release. They're all solid games with a wonderful sense of humour and fantastic design, and they're easy to pick up and play and lose yourself in.
With that in mind, we recently visited Gothenburg-based publisher Thunderful Games (Image & Form and Zoink's joint publishing house) to check out their upcoming slate of titles. The publisher recently picked up Rising Star Games, so there are quite a few titles in the pipeline apart from the ones developed in-house, but the game we were most excited about was without a doubt SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech.
First, we got steam-powered robots with a Western feel with Rusty and Dorothy in the Dig titles (well, technically first we got a tower defence title released via DSiWare, but that one is a bit obscure even for SteamWorld fans). Then we got acquainted with a space scenario and pirate captain Piper Faraday in the rather excellent SteamWorld Heist. Two very different experiences, still yet housed within the same cohesive style with the same brand of charm and humour. We're not alone in having eagerly awaited what would come next from Image & Form after SteamWorld Dig 2 released in 2017 and we shouldn't be surprised the studio is taking us to a new era and a new genre once again. SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech places the Steambots in a fantasy realm and judging by what we've played so far, it's a wonderful expansion of the SteamWorld universe.
From spelunking, via turn-based 2D strategy, we've now landed in a role-playing game and in many ways SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech is a very traditional turn-based RPG. But still, it manages to come up with its own unique twist. Image & Form has chosen to mix the turn-based battles with a card system - think Hearthstone and Gwent. This time we're not dealing with a classic board where you draw and place cards, instead the focus is still on the characters you manage, however, their abilities are dedicated by the cards you use and so deck-building is a big part of the experience as it offers you a great deal of control.
The combat can be compared to something like Paper Mario, even if this is a more nuanced game and perhaps it's best described as a typical turn-based JRPG without all of the Japanese quirks. During our session with the game we understandably didn't have enough time to truly explore the card system (we played an early portion of the game), but in total there will be more than 100 cards and most likely these will allow for some truly humourous situations as you explore how they're best used.