Genre: Action, RPG, Early Access
Developer: GIANTY Inc.
Publisher: GIANTY Inc.
Release Date: Jul 28, 2017
Edited by KnightAvenger
GOKEN is an almost stunningly beautiful 2.5-D JRPG with graphics clearly paying homage to the game Bastion by Supergiant Games. Visually, the game is stunning; the settings seem almost as if they are painted in watercolors and the colors are vibrant and bright. The audio is almost as good as the graphics, almost; in fact, the only detractor, on this side, is the water effects, and this is just a balance problem where the sound effects from water, sometimes, seem far too loud when compared to the other sounds, but it’s a very small thing, not a big thing at all.
The game’s background story is relatable because it shares many similarities with quite a few movies and anime/manga stories. A long time ago, the legendary swordsman Edge, wielder of the five magic swords and heroic peace bringer to humanity, suddenly turned on the major deity Ozone who, only by using all his power, was able to defeat Edge and imprison him in crystal for 5000 years. Edge is finally set free by a young girl who, instantly, forges a bond with this legendary warrior, and, as the story progresses, she and others slowly awaken more and more of his humanity and heart. The swordsman immediately begins his quest of regaining his five magic swords, to discover the truth about his fate and the real villain in the story, and gets a decent, fulfilling meal after his long sleep. Should he, along the way, accidentally right a few wrongs (or, at least, five lol), so much the better. The story is actually more nuanced than this short synopsis would have you think in that not everything is as simple as it seems at first nor are all villains as bad as you first assume. I found myself enjoying the blend of humor, fable, mythos and insight as the story progressed, and I found myself enjoying this even more that I, at first, assumed I would.
All in all, the story is engaging and feels very much like a 90’s martial arts movie, with a huge nod to the Legends of the Monkey King (there are quite a few similarities between our proud, mischievous swordsman and the infamous trickster from Chinese myths). They are both prideful, arrogant beings with a big heart (when reminded thereof) and have a talent for getting in trouble with the gods, even if they, themselves, are often pawns in a bigger game.
With their announcement of GOKEN, the developers stated they were going to bring back everything that was right about the open world action JRPG genre-a very bold claim-but I will not be holding that against the game. Boldness aside, I do see what they are attempting to do; the combat is simple but, through the different styles each sword brings, still enjoyable and varied. Instead of getting bogged down in overly complex maneuvers, you are free to enjoy the exploration and the combat more than if you are distracted having to remember 10 button combos. Whether or not you agree with the developer is a matter of taste; for me, it brought back a feeling of carefree nostalgic fun I thoroughly enjoyed. Truthfully, though, in the very beginning, the combat seems entirely too simple due to the fact that, with just one sword, you are limited to 3 to 4 combat moves; each sword, however, not only brings with it new combat moves/modes (i.e. projectile, knockback, etc.), they also open up areas previously blocked or unreachable to our hero.
Each sword can also be upgraded and this is where the first real detractor comes in; it simply takes too long and would be too grindy to fully upgrade the swords, partly due to the travel times in game and the drop rates being too low. While it is true that you can buy some of the ingredients you need to upgrade in shops, they are far too expensive and the shop owners own too few of each item. In fact, the drop rate, in general, needs to be adjusted up a fair bit while the combat could be a little harder.
However, the leveling system is pretty creative; as you level up throughout the game, you gain ink, which can be used to get tattoos that upgrades your abilities as well as adds resistances and bonuses. On top of that, you can find or buy special inks that, when used, gives your hero bigger special resistances or bonuses. This system is both varied and flexible and fills out any void you may have felt from the lack of traditional skill/power development; in fact, it even feels like it adds to the mythology. The only little thing I could have wished for was to be able to see the tattoos on edge, which, sadly, you can’t.
The creatures and bosses are decent in variety, and even those that are simply re-skinned versions are given different combat moves and abilities to make them stand out from their counterparts and fit in their specific environments. If I were to have ANY complaints, it would be having to fight these adorable creatures in the first place; the foxes and wolves are simply adorable, too adorable to kill…almost.
The harder enemies, however, do not feel too easy; they use varied elemental attacks with different special effects like stun, sleep, etc. You will need healing “potions” and/or items that give you resistance to those effects in order to bring down these creatures, and it shows you exactly what kind of game we will end up getting once Gianty gets done fixing the balance issues and drop rates. Once they do that, I will play through the game again (maybe even more than two times).
There really were no big “cons” in this game and despite that there are a few small detractors, judging from the game’s progression so far, they will be fixed through the early release. True, there may be little imperfections but nothing that takes away from the experience. I’m tempted to say there are more extra little touches that add to the game’s rating than there are imperfections that detract. Yes, there are certain things you could have added that newer games add almost as a rule (mini-map, fast travel, character customization, etc.), but, because of the concept/story heavy game design, I honestly never missed those features.
- Stunning artwork
- Creative character development
- Great story and atmosphere
- Combat is a little too easy
- Upgrading swords is slow and too grindy
- Combat is a little tame in the beginning (just in the first hour or so until you get your second sword)
DarkChylde666 gives GOKEN a Drastik Measure 8.5 out of 10 (85)
As far as this being an early release (or “beta”) goes, this is one of the better ones I have played, if not the best. Only the game’s playtime (should you stick to only playing through the game and not work on ANY upgrades or take any little side trips, etc.) is, maybe, a little short. It has been said you can finish it in 10 to 15 hours, but that would imply simply racing through the game and not enjoying the trip through the magical and beautiful world of GOKEN, and, in my honest opinion, the game would STILL be worth it. Thus, even with the short-ish story line, the little imperfections (many stemming from it being an early release), and the imbalance that needs to be adjusted slightly, (by the time I finished this review, the lack of fast travel was already handled) the grade would still be high and there is potential for it to get even better.
GOKEN is available on Steam for $14.99 (USD).