We’ve played a lot of games, each having a unique identity of its own. There are action games, adventure games, strategy games – a lot of genres have evolved since the inception of gaming. But what happens when a game tries to combine the concept of two genres together? What happens to the child of the two parent genres? They live to be a monstrosity – either too good, or too bad, but nothing in between. Golem Gates is one such game.
The game has two main game modes – Singleplayer and Multiplayer. Singleplayer includes the Campaign mode, which tells the story about the Golem Gates, while Skirmish is a mode which allows playing versus the AI on maps with the basic principles of Golem Gates. Multiplayer includes matches versus other players on the maps. There also are certain Trials, which are basically pre-made scenarios where you have to win at all costs. Survival, the last game mode, basically means “hold out till the horde kills you”. Yup, the enemy is going to come in swarms to destroy your Harbinger – all you need to do is hold out as long as possible.
The game blends mechanics from traditional card games, roguelikes, and infuses strategy elements in them to create a new game genre unlike no other. In the game, you summon creatures to fight for your Harbinger, a sort of Overlord for your army. You get a sort of ‘energy’, or ‘mana’, which you use to train your troops, construct defensive buildings, traps and use spells to turn the tide on your enemy. The game utilizes a card system for the summoning of troops, structures, traps or spells. There are several cards, called ‘glyphs’, which either summon some sort of unit, creates a structure or trap, or uses a spell to rain devastation on your foes. You start out with a starter deck of cards, with basic stuff to tide off beginner enemies in the campaign, or beginner AI in Skirmish games (don’t even think about going with that deck online). How to get new cards? You earn them through hard-earned victories. The campaign, Challenges, Skirmish – anything counts. Also, an important feature that I liked was the ability to get card drops while offline. All you need are a bit of hours in the game.
Also, there needs to be a parity in the resource costs as well as generation, because in most of my games, I could rarely summon my biggest troops unless I had 2-3 of the map spots for myself. The troops aren’t themselves that big of a threat against a turtling enemy who has been amassing “energy” for bringing in the big swords to the fight. Also, traps seem to be a little underwhelming as a feature, and I barely felt the need to use them unless I needed to defend choke points.
The story of Golem Gates is one of the worst I had seen in the history of strategy games. The Campaign Mode makes no sense, it basically introduces you to the concept of Golem Gates and how the Harbinger is trying to destroy them (or maybe bend them to his will?). Otherwise, there is no start or no end to the story, or no backstory to follow up on. You just have to accept that the Harbinger somehow comes to a Universe, and seeks to destroy the Golem Gates because of some reason (most likely because the game wants you to do that in order to teach you the mechanics of the game, and drop you a glyph or two for your collection).
As already mentioned, the game features a Trials Mode for solving challenging scenarios, as well as a Survival Mode for keeping out the hordes till your Harbinger falls. There also is a Quick Match mode against the AI which piles you into a match with the default Skirmish settings.
You are also allowed to edit your collection of glyphs and improve your deck as and when required (and certainly before going online for a match against human players). The deck consists of Spell Glyphs, which cast spells, Unit Glyphs, which summon units, Structure Glyphs, which spawn structures, Trap Glyphs which spawn traps, and Tech Glyphs, which do certain actions, like revealing a particular area of the map, allowing you to draw more glyphs,etc. There are many ways of building a deck that suits your playstyle, but a good deck has a balance between the several glyphs in order to have as many answers as possible for the opponent.
The game’s mechanics are decent, but it needs some strict balance changes to the many glyphs (and maybe introduce many more glyphs during the course of development, in order to allow for variety in deckbuilding). The campaign mode is seriously a headache, and the only reason people should wait a while for the game to be on a discount before they think about adding it to their Steam library.