Indie developers like to make all kinds of games and branch out in both themes and genres, often never looking back at what they made after it has been published for a few years. Image & Form however likes to come back to the same universe all the time steaming up another installment of their wierd robot characters. They have made great games in both the turn-based strategy and platforming genre and now they take a look at what they can bring us with a roleplaying card game.
The story of SteamWorld Quest begins as robot Armilly and her pal Copernica go in to a forest to find a special Peppermint Puffer mushroom she wants for Copernica’s alchemy. Soon after finding it they find out their entire village has been put to flames by the menacing Void army. Together with robot Galleo they can extinguish the flames and together they head out to pursue the Void army before they can deal more damage to the world.
The story brings you to all kinds of places like the collega where Copernica studied and the Cursed city where a colosseum lays that adds extra challenges to the game. You eventually encounter two other party members that join your group of three, and you can switch them in and out in between battles.
Since this game is a roleplaying card game, the combat in SteamWorld Quest is very special. During the game you can create your own deck of 24 Punch cards that will be used during combat. Each character has eight cards to his availability and this make up for the moves that you can use during fights. How many types or how few you use is up to you, but using them effectively is the way towards victory. During the battles you also acquire Steam Points (SP) that you will need to use stronger cards or use magical abilities that your robots can learn.
Each round you start of with six cards and if you so wish you can swap out two for two random new ones from your deck. Collecting steam effectively and dealing heavy blows is the key to victory and you can also chain your attacks by using all cards from one character that character will then follow-up with a Heroic Chain that will deal enormous damage or heal or shield your party. In the end you have an enormous amount of ways how to build up your party and deck of cards and you will try out all kinds of card combinations to find your perfect hand of cards to play against the Void army.
The combat doesn’t stop with deck and a few heroic abilities. The game always shows the enemies on screen and just like in the Paper Mario games you can whack an enemy before they see you to get a little edge at the start of the battle. There are also coins to collect to spend at a travelling merchant so you can buy new armor and new weapons that can grant you new Heroic abilities. With all these combat possibilities the game counters this by giving lots of fun boss battles that test your wits and strategies, making you try out new tactics with your Punch cards and abilities.
After all the bosses have been dealt with and the Void army is no more, you will settle with a game time of about 10+ hours. This makes SteamWorld Quest one of the shorter rpg’s, but the 19 chapters devided over four acts does make for 10 hours of well-paced, very fun and quirky story telling that only steam robots could give you.
During your whole adventure you will come to see a vivid and very artsy cartoon world with a ton of unique characters. The main and side-characters are the most diverse of the bunch and as Quest uses the natural arch types like knight, sorcerer and healer you can clearly see that in how the robots are build. You might see the common enemies ten times over, but with all the different kind of bosses you encounter you will always find new and unique hand drawn creations.
SteamWorld Quest gives you a great card-based combat RPG that stays true to the SteamWorld universe. The cardgame mechanics make for deep and diverse tactics that can be used in this short but sweet story mode filled to the brim with challenging boss battles.