Do you like Real Time Strategy games? Do you like card collecting and deck building? Do you also like creepy whispering? If so, Golem Gates may very well be your thing. Laser Guided Games took the growing popularity of the melded genres and added a dystopian feel. But is it everything an RTS fan is looking for and more? This is our Golem Gates review.
As a Harbinger in Golem Gates, you are essentially a mix of a general, a wizard, and a strategist as you summon and strengthen your forces to close golem gates and take on the shadowy figures behind them. The first thing you’ll likely notice when you start Golem Gates is how fantastic it looks even though when I started Golem Gates the first time, it was in a low resolution and the effects were set to medium and low. I didn’t even check the options at first as the game looks great. It utilizes the Unreal Engine which gives the characters and setting a nice ambience that only got better as I increased the resolution and visuals.
While the tutorial is a little quick and at times maybe a tad confusing, once you get into the ebb and flow of the matches, the game seems to make a lot more sense. From the get go you are initially tasked with closing Golem Gates and defeating an enemy Harbinger by what one would initially assume is a bright whispering Sun.
Golem Gates begins modestly by allowing you to tread lightly into the gameplay with a story mode that, as most good stories do, alludes that there is more to you than even you are aware. While many players may not be smitten immediately with the storyline, the actual gameplay is really where I felt Golem Gates shines, and within a short amount of play time you’ll be able to bypass the story in favor of different modes such as PvP, Survival and the Trials.
Prior to starting a match, you have the option to swap out several starter cards if for some reason you don’t get a great hand to begin with. When I first started I saw no need to do this, but as I progressed through the game, I realized that you can start with terrible hands and that you're gimped by having too few of attack units or no defenses. Cards and energy are all time based accumulations, meaning that after some time you’ll automatically draw a card. As time passes you increase in energy which, once filled to the right amount, will allow you to play said cards. By holding energy-generating territory, you can increase the speed of generation so you can play more cards in a shorter amount of time. In the event you run out of cards, you can shuffle your deck and start over, but it takes you out of the fight for 15 seconds, which means shuffling during a battle where you need to be micromanaging. This obviously may not be the most ideal situation.
After successfully beating a mission, you’ll be rewarded with card unlocks that you have to click repeatedly to collect. This was one of the more confusing parts of the game, as the first time I saw the reward on the screen but wasn’t entirely sure how to collect it. You can then go into your archive and add the cards you’ve earned, purchase new cards with rewards, or create a new deck altogether. You earn extra rewards in missions that have “secret objectives” which is a fun way to get you to replay levels you may have otherwise never had gone back to.
Golem Gates is certainly a fun game, but there were a few flags that I wasn’t particularly enamored with. Despite the visuals being gorgeous, the default control scheme is a little haphazard in comparison to some other RTS games I’m used to. Reliably moving the screen requires you click the mouse wheel. This may be a little pet peeve due to the very real and very limiting fog of war and how fast paced movements require a moment’s notice push you to take your finger off of the left mouse button which is pretty much how you do everything. In a heated battle those that might be a little less dexterous could also experience some displeasure.
In that same vein, infantry management is a little wonky to say the least. I’ve had issues where some of my units would get stuck on pathing and not attack at all while being torn to shreds by the enemy. Call it an occupational hazard of being a general, but expect in some situations to greatly micromanage your team to ensure they are doing exactly what you want.
The nitpicking and technical difficulties aside, Golem Gates is still in Early Access, so these things could all be hammered out by its release. If you were a fan of BattleForge, a big RTS fan, or just some random person who always wanted the Sun to whisper in your ear about destroying Golem Gates, this game is definitely for you.