GDC Hands-On- SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech

Monday, April 1st, 2019

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Steamworld Quest | Logo

Publisher(s): Image & Form Games
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Release Date: April 25, 2019
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The SteamWorld franchise is known to take on an entirely different mechanic every single time a new franchise entry has come out, as evidenced by our reviews for SteamWorld Heist and SteamWorld Dig. This time, in SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech, the new gameplay mechanic is a card-based combat RPG system that takes hand-drawn characters and drops them into a gorgeous world. During GDC, I went hands on with an early part of the game and discovered that this new take on the SteamWorld franchise is simply amazing to behold.

The card-based combat system is what lies at the heart of SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech. Each character in your party (I had three characters by the end of my demo: Armilly, Copernica, and Galleo) can select eight personalized and color-coded cards to put into the overall battle deck. At the start of battle, six cards are randomly drawn from the deck. During your turn, you may select three of those cards to attack with. If all three of those cards are for the same character, they can unleash a devastating combo attack at the end. The card combat system in SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech has another dimension added to it by the steam counters across the top of the screen. Each regular attack/defense/magic/healing card that is used adds to that top steam counter. When you have the requisite number of steam counters filled, you can use special cards (that are part of your eight selected cards per character) that use up some/all of those steam counters to do an even more powerful attack. So, to recap: if you stack three cards into a combo, and that final card uses a steam counter card, then the character attacking can do significant amounts of additional -and otherwise impossible- damage. Cards that are used go back into your deck to be drawn again later, and the hand automatically refills at the beginning of your turn. Finally, you can also choose to dump two cards per turn and switch them out for different cards drawn from your deck.

SteamWorld Quest | Card Selection

You can select to include eight cards for each character to include in your battle desk from your collection, as seen in the image above. You then draw six cards at a time from your deck to battle with, as seen in the image below. (Images courtesy of Image & Form Games).

SteamWorld Quest | Card Selection

This combat system in SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech actually was fun and very intuitive to use, and I was building my decks up to both take advantage of the combos and ensure that I could assign party roles (attacker, healer, etc) to each character while still leaving them with attack options. Even though I had not played a card-based RPG title since KINGDOM HEARTS: Re: Chain of Memories, I found that I was able to quickly understand what was going on and start strategizing immediately on how to best build my desk to survive battles. In other words, SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech‘s card mechanics work and provide both an ease of use for new players and the available complexity for those who want to max/min their potential damage.

SteamWorld Quest | Battle

The enemies in SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech also use cards to attack with. (Image courtesy of Image & Form Games).

The world in SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech -and the characters themselves- are absolutely gorgeous as well. The colors and steampunk character designs are vibrant and colorful in a way that really stands out among other RPG titles. Speaking of the world, there are a lot of secrets to unlock SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech with over one-hundred cards to find and use. The story text, which seems to pop up everywhere, is also quite well written too. More than once, I found myself laughing at the back and forth between the characters conversing in SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech, and that did a lot to make me want to find out more about these characters I was playing as.

SteamWorld Quest | Text

There is a lot of dialogue in SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilamesh that really serves to flesh out the characters. (Image courtesy of Image & Form Games).

Overall, SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech is an extremely charming game that simply begs the player to fall in love with its easy-to-use card-combat system and its gorgeously-drawn steampunk characters. The game is projected to take approximately 20 to 25 hours to complete, and it is a digital only game on the Nintendo Switch on April 25, 2019.

Have you played any of the prior SteamWorld games? Are you excited for this latest entry? 

Let us know in the comments below!

About Quentin H.

I have been a journalist for oprainfall since 2015, and I have loved every moment of it. Do you want to do an interview? You can reach me at