A crash landing is the sort of narrative opening that’s replete with opportunities for exploration and discovery. Unfamiliar flora and fauna presumably await, along with unknown terrain and a struggle for survival. Goliath deposits its protagonist on a particularly challenging landmass: a series of floating “islands,” each moving in complex orbits and each containing a diverse and bizarre array of denizens. In an effort to adapt to these hostile surroundings your character comes to the only logical conclusion one could possibly imagine a seemingly early-20th-century aeronaut ever conceivably reaching: it’s time to build some mechs.
While the premise is presumably enticing, almost all of the complexity of the above situation — the floating landmasses, the harsh struggle for survival, the unknown itself — is wiped away with quality of life technologies like teleportation and a (very very buggy) minimap so that the only meaningful gameplay components remaining are the construction and piloting of the mechs your character designs. This is understandable and perhaps encouraged, given the cool factor of scavenging for parts to build mechs that you can roam around inside of, killing random critters. But it does mean that the plot, such as it is, is firmly planted in the passenger seat. This is a game about mashing buttons and upgrading robots.
“The gameplay isn’t bad, but it’s not great either and there are certain glaring problems with some parts of its execution.”
There are certain gameplay imperatives associated with that priority. If your game is focused on combat, that combat had better be smooth. There shouldn’t be lag between the activation of an ability and its effect. There should be easy to use controls that allow you to focus on playing the game and not on your controller. There should be clear delineation between different types of enemies and different sorts of attacks. There should be strategy. Unfortunately these are areas where Goliath doesn’t quite hit the mark. The gameplay isn’t bad, but it’s not great either and there are certain glaring problems with some parts of its execution.
It’s often quite difficult to tell where you’re going. The camera angle is fixed at what one would assume is the appropriate perspective for a top-down brawler but it’s just awkward enough that you end up running around in circles unsure exactly where you’re going. That uncertainty could be alleviated by a helpful minimap but Goliath’s is prone to inaccuracies and its attempts to point you in the right direction are often completely useless. At times the “path” you’re indicated to follow heads off in one direction before immediately looping around, passing right back through the spot you’re standing in, and continuing in the opposite direction. And it continuously updates in such a way that after starting off down the path for a few seconds the path suddenly moves and tells you that you were actually headed in the “wrong” direction all along.
So in some sense the interface, despite promising to ameliorate our hero’s confrontation with the unknown wilderness, actually enhances the “experience” of feeling lost and confused. If our hero finds himself pausing to ponder the philosophical ramifications of that design, however, he’s likely to be suddenly mauled by whatever random critters happen to be passing by. Combat in Goliath requires an arcane amount of button combinations to perform sparingly few actual moves. Surviving combat usually amounts to mashing the health “potion” button quickly enough while performing whatever attacks aren’t on cooldown.
The story, such as it is, is all over the place and is pretty clearly just an excuse to drop a bunch of random enemies and materials into the same world. Again, that’s potentially just fine, but without the right amount of polish it all just detracts from the experience. Goliath has an appealing premise and a promising goal, but in the end it doesn’t live up to its own expectations.
***A PC code was provided by the publisher***
- Cool idea
- Occasionally great gameplay
- Whimsical storyline
- Unintuitive controls
- Whimsical storyline