Beat up spiders the American way with a massive robot’s fist.
I will admit that when I first watched the trailer for Goliath, I didn’t quite get its appeal. You can look for yourself: It looks like a bunch of different robots beating up creatures. But now that I’ve had time to sit with the developers, Whalebox Studios, I admit to being sucked in. Described to me as an “open-world action RPG survival” game, it has a fresh take on RPGs that thankfully does not rely on common fantasy or sci-fi tropes to build its narrative.
The story begins with you accidentally going through a portal into a strange world that is a mashup of multiple worlds and times. In this land, there are a lot of giants roaming the land, and in order to survive, you need to start constructing your own. First, you need to look around for materials to construct various odds and ends, including your goliath. Although Goliath borrows mechanics from survival games, such as Don’t Starve, there is no need to hunt and gather for food to stay alive, but you will need to monitor your health and that of your goliath.
As you get yourself situated, you’ll come across quest-givers who will provide opportunities to really explore. Initially, I was introduced to a peculiar self-aware robot who made a bird-like robot to keep itself company. The bird ran away, and you are asked to bring it back. Donning one of the goliath suits, the wood one, Artem Bochkarev, the game’s producer, started infiltrating a group of birds to try and find the missing pet.
There was a number of mechanics that fascinated me. Terrain needs to be a consideration when deciding which goliath to use at a given time. For example, staying in the desert for a long period of time may set the wooden goliath on fire, doing damage, but the stone goliath will heat up and start doing extra heat damage to others. The world is procedurally generated, so it pays to be wary of where you’re going. Also, enemies respond differently to each goliath and the player character. There were enemies who ignored the player as he walked around them, but as soon as Artem put on the metal goliath suit, they started attacking.
The protagonist lacks the ability to fight directly, but he is not helpless. In human form, he can lure one set of enemies to other sets who will attack them. Also, he can set traps for them, switching to goliath form to fool them into tripping them once they chase him. Your hero can also just deploy his goliaths instead of using them as a mech suit. These will, of course, provide additional protection while exploring, but they will not use special abilities in this mode. All in all, there are multiple approaches to play, which should keep players interested.
Along with a full story for the single-player campaign, Goliath also features both co-op and competitive multiplayer modes, neither of which were demoed for me. Co-op supposedly works like Borderlands in that friends can enter your game, which will increase how challenging enemies are but will allow them to keep special items they find. The competitive mode will be an arena for up to four people to do battle. But until the game comes out in early 2016 for Steam, we’ll just have to wait and see how those modes flesh out.