By William Haderlie / May 25th, 2016
Goliath is an isometric action RPG developed by Whalebox Studio and published by Viva Media. And what an ambitious project it is. You are the pilot of an ostentatiously WWII bomber, and you crash on a strange world after being shot down. You are separated from your partner and only have limited communication with him. But you are trying to find him and then get off of this rock. You quickly discover that pretty much everything surrounding you is hostile and also far larger than you are. So even though you do have a small pistol, it does very little good against them. It also quickly becomes apparent that this does not actually take place in the 1940’s, as you have a steampunk style mechanical arm, and to solve the problem of the local denizens you decide to build a large mech robot simply from base materials you find around.
And that is really the major reason d’etre for this title’s existence, you build mechs of varying types, called Goliaths, and you upgrade them as you earn new part schematics. Your hero is quite ineffectual on his own. However, at a certain point, you will learn how to leave the mech and have it follow you around like a pet instead of climbing into the controls. You can have up to 3 Goliaths and when they are destroyed by an enemy you will have to go back to your campsite to repair them before you are able to use them again. Thankfully your hero has a separate health bar and can turn invisible, so you can usually make it out of those situations alive. Which is a good thing, because if your hero dies the consequences are pretty severe with a loss of some of the items and money he was carrying. There are 4 types of Goliaths that you can build, but there is only 3 slots that you can have at any time for mech development. However, I only ever managed to fully upgrade my wood mech to a flaming wood mech, and a stone mech I was able to half way upgrade to a frozen wood mech. The way that you upgrade your mechs is one part at a time. And the parts have their own specific requirements. Some require you to kill enemies in a certain way, such as lighting them on fire, and some are simply level locked.
However, there is a major reason why I only was able to craft that many Goliaths. This game is extremely buggy in its current form. That’s why I’m not actually writing a full review yet. I’m letting the developers patch it a bit before we go back in on it. To be fair to the developers, this is a massive game. I have only been to 5 of its regions and it looks like there is about 30 or so, which is quite a bit of content for a $19.99 MSRP game. While each region isn’t exactly massive, there is still a lot of variety in the environments and a lot of weather effects that can have varying effects on your Goliath. That does make for a lot of potential for bugs. And certainly there have been several crashes and a lot of clipping or enemies not behaving as they should. The music often will bug out, which is annoying, but not game breaking. One of the worst bugs, however, is that some of the Goliath special effects, like Burning, will randomly stop happening and I will have to destroy the mech and craft it all over again or reload the game in order for it to work again. However, I was still plowing through those bugs trying to get a review in. It turned out that there was a bug that I couldn’t get past without starting the game entirely over again from scratch. And after 8 hours of play and so many earned upgrades, I just decided to set this one aside for now and come back at it when it’s in a better state to review.
There are some good aspects to this game, however. The combat is pretty fun and the visual aesthetic is cool. When the music was actually working correctly it was good. The crafting system seems to be pretty deep with the limited experience that I had. When you first step into a Goliath you feel pretty powerful. However, I should state that the feeling of power in one is very fleeting. You will not feel powerful in a Goliath for very long because after the first area almost everything that you fight will be just as large as you are. So it’s not much different than fighting in any other action RPG. Something that I felt a little cheated by. If I’m running around fighting in a giant mech, I want to feel like I’m a bit overpowered, but perhaps that’s a bit subjective. While they are fixing the bugs, something that I hope they will also fix is the quest designs. The quest tracking and the obtaining of side-quests is very clunky and quite out of date. Not that everything should mirror World of Warcraft, but when games have been doing it so much better for a decade, you really should take some good ideas and make them your own. The other thing that I would like to see them work on is their menu designs, which are very clunky. But with some good depth here and designs that remind me a lot of the now defunct Lionhead Studios, there is potential here. Potential that I hope that the developers are able to realize.
Action RPGGoliathPCSteamViva MediaWhalebox Studio