title: "Steamworld: Quest" type: Game date: 2021-10-01 rating: 9 genre: ['JRPG'] year: 2019 status: Finished

"Indie gem" is a cliche that I've grown to hate across genre & format these days, but this — this is an indie gem!

It is perhaps biomechanically engineered to appeal to me. Cute/trivial JRPG story (which importantly doesn't even try to take itself seriously, but has some cute script moments); ~fifteen hour runtime (you could probably bust it out to twenty if you go the completionist route, which I did not do); incredibly fun gameplay based on cards.

The last point is really how it got me. I am a sucker for any and all deckbuilder-esque games now that I'm a full-blown Slay The Spire addict, and I think this game got so much of it right. I felt like I really could build a wide swath of decks, and the party composition was interesting enough to incentivize me to experiment and tinker quickly.

I definitely have some quibbles, mostly on the balance side:

  • Debuffs are incredibly powerful on both sides, which made for some very odd difficulty spikes. An encounter with three monsters who could all poison you is an order of magnitude more difficult than the chapter's boss.
  • The ultimate joy of both deckbuilders and JRPGs is getting to break the game over your knee which...never seemed to happen? Like, the game felt balanced and I felt rewarded for my final choice of party & deck composition but with the heavyweight, high-cost cards coming at the end I was waiting for a moment where suddenly you could go infinite or have lots and lots of energy and it never really happened.
  • Accessories and equipment felt...much less impactful than they could have been, largely due to short supply from the shop.

But these are all quibbles! This was a very fun game: it did it's thing well and didn't outstay it's welcome. I loved it.

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