Golem Gates by Laser Guided Games, LLC
Golem Gates is a real-time strategy game that emulates the style of the classics in the genre with one unique twist: rather than relying on a tiered technology tree gated by static buildings, Golem Gates provides its units via a card draw system that will be familiar to players of collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering. As a strategy fan and a player of CCGs, I was keen to see how this unusual concept worked out in practice.
The first thing that struck me about Golem Gates was the aesthetic; the game is wreathed in a grim, metallic and gritty style. Any colors that might make you think of nature or life are decidedly absent. This serves to underpin the game’s setting: a desolate world suffused with ash and industrial structures. The art of Golem Gates alone does a great deal to convey the sense of a world decimated by war and technology. Unraveling the mysteries of this world plays a key role in the campaign story.
The campaign itself is a traditional array of missions, and while the first few are relatively easy, I did find that the difficulty quickly ramped up. The action of Golem Gates is a strange mix of familiar and new territory. All the hallmarks of the classic RTS are here: fog of war, points to capture (reminiscent of Dawn of War) and the inevitable clash of troops. However, instead of support structures from which to generate units, the game provides all of its resources in the form of “glyphs.”
Luck of the Draw
These are basically cards that function in a similar way to those found in collectible card games like Hearthstone. Between missions, a deck can be built out of a minimum of 30 cards; these cards then filter in slowly through a game and can be used at the cost of energy (a resource generated by the aforementioned capture-points). Cards are split between combat units, defensive buildings and activated powers that have an immediate effect on the battlefield.
The result of this intermingling of mechanics is somewhat mixed. The intent of the system is to bypass the repetitive (and arguably dull) task of working through a preset technology tree, and it certainly succeeds in this goal. Cards can be spent anywhere that you have vision, and this makes for a very fast-paced and unpredictable game, as a scout can be augmented en-route with much stronger troops, and battles can be reinforced on the fly.
Unfortunately, this achievement also means that many enjoyable facets of the classic RTS are lost. Players like myself who like to turtle up and build vast defensive bases will find no home here; Golem Gates is far too aggression-focused to allow that style of play.
Another issue created by the card system is the random nature of unit deployment; the order of card draw can have a catastrophic effect on one side’s fortunes and some cards can outright delete an enemy group, putting too much power in the hands of luck.
All of this being said, Golem Gates does succeed in finding a new angle on RTS action and it can be very enjoyable, it’s just important to be aware that this will not cater to all classic real-time strategy fans.
Besides the campaign, Golem Gates also offers an online multiplayer mode (although servers aren’t particularly active), a survival mode and a range of challenges that further shake up the formula with some interesting variations like being trapped on opposite sides of a ravine and having to summon troops on both sides for offence and defense.
Golem Gates is a refreshing take on the RTS genre, and by combining traditional mechanics with collectible card game systems, the developers have created a hectic and offence-oriented experience. This is not without its drawbacks, and the absence of building is an all too common trend in modern RTS games, but for those who enjoy a more straight-to-the-battlefield approach, Golem Gates could well be worth a look.
Golem Gates is available via Steam.
Watch the trailer for Golem Gates below: