Gordian Quest is an epic roguelike/lite that combines the best elements of deckbuilding, tactical combat, role-playing, and strategic decision-making. The game is currently in Steam Early Access, featuring only a part of the content that will be present in the full release version yet players already have given very positive reviews for it on the platform. This is our Gordian Quest Early Access Review.
A sinister curse corrupts the land, spawning undead monsters to roam the darkened lands and bringing out the worst in humanity by luring scoundrels, looters, and necromancers by the promise of power and coin. People need heroes to take the fight to evil and end their plight, and who better fits this role than you do?
The Early Access version of Gordian Quest features six heroes to choose from – Lucius the Swordhand, Catherin the Cleric, Bertram the Ranger, Alphonse the Scoundrel, Pierre the Spellbinder and Ida the Druid. Each one of them has their own strengths and weaknesses as well as a unique skill kit that you can further diversify or specialize in one area via talents. For example, Ida the Druid can summon powerful soulbound beasts – or forego summoning techniques for feats of transformation into animalistic forms or simply brutal efficiency in martial arts. Equipment acquired via defeating monsters or by purchasing it with hard-earned coins allows you to add more abilities to your heroes as long as it works with their specialization. There is no giving two-hander to a rogue!
Regardless of whom you chose as your starting Hero, soon enough you will unlock the rest of them. Your party consists of three heroes at any time plus any NPCs that might join you in the course of a battle. One of the smaller but neater details the developers have added to the game is the loading screen actively reflecting which heroes your party consists of. In the description of the game provided on Steam, the developers promise to add 10 to 16 heroes.
Depending on the composition of your party, the battles you face might feel completely different even if the flow of them is largely the same. The battlefield is split into three rows – front, middle and back respectively. Most of the abilities can only strike so far prompting you to move your melee-oriented characters to the front while more sneaky members of the team have far-reaching skills. The Ranger’s skills deal bonus damage if the target is a certain number of rows away.
In addition to the usual cards that you will be slinging left and right, there are also passive triggers that work as long as the respective card remains in your hand and the other conditions are met. For example, Attack of Opportunity – when another ally within the same row attacks an enemy, the cardholder will initiate an attack of opportunity attacking the same target. The variety of cards unlocked by the heroes through leveling added via gear and synergized with party members by triggers allows for some interesting combos in the middle of battle.
The battles can be loosely split into normal battle where your party smacks down a number of monsters of normal power, horde mode where monsters will continue spawning through the battle until their numbers are depleted and boss battle – sometimes you face the boss alone, but more often than not they have cronies with them. Regardless, the objective of all battles remains the same: bring your opponents’ health to zero while ensuring that your party’s health stays above it. At one point, the combats’ same-ness catches up to you. Hopefully, the developers can spice it up by adding more variety: keeping NPCs alive, having to kill a certain enemy in a certain number of turns, killing somebody last, etc.
On normal difficulty, you might want to go out of your way to clear some of the side quests or completely un-needed monsters for the extra experience and loot, while on harder difficulties it is all but required to keep you roughly at the same level as constantly empowering enemies.
In addition to combat, a lot of your time will be spent interacting with various events. A certain category of them will simply let you choose one of the options and affect the game world respectively when you provide your answer. That might be ignoring creepy sounds coming from the cellar and skipping an extra battle (and reward), or doing something that changes the encounters around you, sometimes spawning new monsters in the nodes you have already cleared.
There is also another category, which requires you to roll to determine the outcome of an event. Sometimes only one of your characters has to roll, in this case, the character with the biggest chance of success and automatically chosen. Other times, for example, when sneaking up on somebody, the entire party will be required to participate. Of course, just one failure is enough to blow the entire thing.
Naturally, the Spellbinder is the character with the highest proficiency in Intellect, the Rogue takes lead when it comes to Dexterity and the burly Druid is unparalleled in Strength – so those will be the characters responding to the characteristics-based events, provided they are in your party. For example, if an event requires a skill check of Strength 15 to pass, the game will automatically suggest passing it with the Druid or the Swordhand, who will start with a passive bonus to success. For the sake of this example, let’s say they passively get +5 to outcome due to their Strength level. The game then offers you a choice – you can either believe in your luck and roll the dice as is or exhaust a spell to add another number to your outcome score. The spell will then be exhausted.
At this point, with only Act I available in the game, Gordian Quest does not feature much lore. Sure, the region has its own name as do the people who live in it, but largely it is a story of valiant heroes of various origins banding together to honorably defeat evil where they find it – be it spooky skeletons, devious demons, crafty necromancers or other unpleasant fellows.
At the current point, it would take roughly 5-6 hours to finish the game. The full release version is said to feature four fully fleshed out Acts to explore, each introducing their own gameplay mechanics. Hopefully, the same can be said about the story, too.
Other things coming in the full version of the game are Relationship system among your heroes, various factions, endless mode as well as PvP mode.
Note: the Steam Early Access key was provided by the developer for the purposes of this review.
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