Goliath (developed by Whalebox Studios and published by Octopus Tree) is a semi open-world RPG in which the player is subjected to survival conditions on a foreign planet filled with ginormous monsters and otherworldly creatures. You, as the player, are required to scavenge for materials in order to build massive mechanical machines also named Goliaths, which become fully customizable with upgraded weapons for a multitude of battle situations. On some occasions, you must use your Goliath to trade for your very life.
You start with the most basic of basic Goliaths by crafting it from the wood you can gather in the scene around you. However as you progress through the game you are able to upgrade your Goliath using stone, metal and other precious materials that you can find as you progress through this new world.
Yet building these giant war machines aren’t the only thing you must do to survive. You also have to craft items and tools to aid you in your quest to survive, build fortresses, and find new allies in the war that is taking over the world. Eventually you will have to make a choice in a faction. These factions consist of Humans, Forgers, Forest Brotherhood and The Created. Each faction offers unique robot and weapon plans, and the choice is one that shouldn’t be taken lightly, for your choice you can try to create peace or further fuel the war that the world has fallen into.
As I sat down and launched the game, I was greeted with a wonderful home screen, full of fantastic art and a hint of animation as well as a rugged southwestern tune that incited excitement in my little gaming soul. I readied myself and clicked the play button. Next I was greeted with a shaky cinematic, black and white, sketch type of art. It was slightly confusing. I didn’t know exactly what it was supposed to mean for the game, but I continued. If you have started the game without reading the description you may be a little lost, as the story element was missing in the first crucial moments of play time.
There I was, standing there as a little guy who’s name was revealed later to be Gromov. I ran around for a while and tried to determine what controls did what, but the basic tutorial that is typically integrated into the first introductory steps of a game was missing. You get to speak with someone named Dave, but any dialogue in game feels rushed and slightly abnormal
What I did realize were that the controls seemed overly mechanical and unnatural. Upon looking into my settings, I understood why that was the case. It was evident that the game was made for the use of a game pad, which is fine, however the old keyboard and mouse felt alien.
The quality of life in the game was slightly less quality with repetitive “E’ usage to be able to gather resources, which definitely made things a little more redundant and difficult. Also, I’ve noticed that if you weren’t hovering in a certain way in front of a bush you would hit “E” to gather your target and ended up being moved to the “next closest” resource to be gathered.
The game is definitely challenging with the difficulty level scaling rather quickly, which in my personal opinion is both a great thing and an aggravating one. There is a learning process involved, which is wonderful, and the crafting is easily accessible and simple to use. That is refreshing for a survival based game.
Another place where the game fell short was sound. The sound would stop suddenly, or wouldn’t transition with the scenario. Some of the effects felt unnatural or forced or otherwise unavailable. I do have to admit that I rather enjoyed the loading screen tips when transitioning from one area to the next. Speaking honestly, Goliath was a little hard for me to tread through based on the inefficiency and foreign feel of the game play.
Where the game went right was in three important factors; style, crafting, and questing. The art style is gorgeous and brings me back to my Borderlands days. It looks almost hand drawn with charcoal, and it has been one of my favorite art styles in gaming since it first came out. Goliath executes this flawlessly!
The monsters and other friendly characters felt natural in this outside world. It was exactly how I felt they should look, or act and in that regard I feel the game hit the nail on the head. That paired with the stylization of the game (which I seriously LOVE) definitely created an environment that was like looking at a live action comic book.
Crafting is a breeze which definitely plays a huge role in any survival game. The interface for crafting was created for an easily digestible experience. It lists the materials you need and you simply go to your tent or campfire to create it. And designing the Goliaths is wonderfully stimulating. With that said, I wish there was more to the initial Goliath you were able to build. For a game that is centered around these massive mechanical creatures you have to create, the initial reveal of them felt lackluster.
Questing was also considerably easy with an accessible use of a quest tracker in your mini-map. Just follow the line and you’ll end up exactly where you need to be. It’s very cut, clean and dry and didn’t make it entirely difficult to use. It did act more like a GPS, which was fine, but as long as you went in the general direction the tracker would cater to your movements. It was flexible and helpful and made the quest process much easier than expected.
All in all the game isn’t terrible, there is a LOT of promise. I do wish however that instead of this being a full release it were a beta test. In my opinion that would be a better way to start, especially since a lot of the game felt unfinished. But, I applaud them for their ambitions and I do believe that in time the game will be a well-oiled machine, as will the Goliaths!
If you are interested in obtaining Goliath, you can do so through Steam at the low price of $19.99 (Right now you can get the game for 20% off and can until May 19th, 2016!)
Update: In the midst of this review Whalebox had created and launched their first patch in the wee hours of the morning today, May 15th, 2016. To me this is the most positive thing about the game. They had remedied such issues as the repetitive use of the “E” key to acquire resources, and the sound issue that weren’t transitioning well, etc. To have a dev team that cares enough to truly take into consideration what their players are saying, the bugs being reported and so on gives me more hope for the game. That my friends, in my book, is a game worth playing.