Shoulders of Giants review | We probably have all played a roguelike in our lifetime already, but if you haven’t? Let me quickly explain the gist of things. A roguelike is a game that is completely and randomly generated. Not one playthrough will be the same since the games use a Random Number Generator (RNG in short) to generate the environments, loot, … . Though they have their set rules that they need to comply too. They need a set number of static objectives, otherwise, there wouldn’t be an end to a level. Got it? Great. Welcome to our review of Shoulders of Giants. A new Roguelike brought to us by the wonderful people of Moving Pieces Interactive. You play as Froggie and Germ (the sentient robot that you ride on). Your task is simple, or is it? You need to recover a specific artifact so that you can save the universe from collapsing under the pressure of Entropy. Entropy is a sort of infection that takes over worlds and corrupts the denizens of said world. Will you have the courage to complete this task, or will you croak? Find out in this review of Shoulders of Giants!
|Developer||Moving Pieces Interactive|
|Publisher||Moving Pieces Interactive|
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion of the writer. Got unanswered questions about this game? Get in touch on Twitter!
What we Liked!
- Funny | Alright, I’ve got to give them credit on this part. The dialogue when you’re out on a mission is funny. Granted, you got to have a sense of dry humor. But if you do? You’ll chuckle from time to time, snickering at the lameness of some of these jokes. So, yeah, I did have a lot of fun simply due to some good old comedy genius!
- Mechanics | Shoulders of Giants has a quite unique mechanic in how you clear this space exploration roguelike. When you land on a planet, you have to do the main mission per level. It could be to traverse through a storm, with the only possible way of clearing the weather up a bit so you can see where you’re going is by killing enemies. Or it could be that you are tasked with destroying a set amount of spires before the tower unlocks. When you got to kill the towers, you’ll be in some luck as well. Because they also then serve as tiny sanctuaries that are lit up by sunlight. And let that sunlight be the one thing that also damages your enemies over time as well. So not only are you getting some breathing room, you’re also getting some extra damage as well. Then there are 2 possible fight modes, you can either tackle your enemies with melee dmg (that offer combos depending on the weapon you’re carrying) or you can choose to go with ranged combat. This will vary in effectiveness depending on which weapon you’re using. These also come in various amounts of levels and rarities. Level 1 for instance is your basic weapon. But you also have a % chance of getting a higher level version of anything, which add benefits as well. And then there are the skills. Every time that you destroy a spire, a skill box will drop. These are randomized as well. These vary between utility or offense. So you can customize your battle experience every time you go to a new planet, based on RNG.
- Base dialogue | So the mechanics are top-notch. The dialogue? Witty and funny at times. But when you come down at your base and want to swap out your gear? Oh my god, how horrible did they program this part! Firstly, the equipment part is divided between 3 npcs. The Owl, which controls your Skill tree. The Baboon has your combat gear and the Panda does your mech. Each and every time that you want to swap out something? You’ll go up to the character, start talking to him and then get ‘soft locked’ until he finishes his sentence. You can’t instantly go into the equipment menu either. You need to select what you want to do. Want to choose a new gun AND melee item? You’ll have to first talk, then select the gun option. Choose your gun, and close the entire thing. Talk again, choose the melee option,… How. Poorly. Configurated. Is. This. Come on, this shouldn’t be this tedious. Smooth line this out, please!
- Tower placement | So, as I explained in the mechanics part, you got to kill spires to unlock the tower. In the levels before the boss, it’s simple. Just clear out the minion wave and voila. Got the boss tower? He spawns and you can go on. But I don’t know if it’s a programming error or what, but sometimes towers end up in very narrow passages (and one time even stuck beneath the ground). This makes it so that at times bosses just get stuck in their spawn zone. Making them easy marks from being shot from afar. But that one time that it spawned beneath the level? I didn’t even know where it was that I needed to go if it wasn’t for the red beam shooting into the air.
What we Disliked
- Difficulty scaling| So, my first few planets (when my HEAT was low) were a breeze. I blew through them, that was… Until I reached HEAT level 350+. Then all of the sudden, the planet I landed on next, had a variation in its denizens. Suddenly, they got fliers. Armored chargers that were so fast, if your blink (or dodge) was on cooldown, you couldn’t escape from them. Went up a bit higher, and suddenly the buggers got shields and swords big enough to cleave you in half! Also, the rewards you got from beating these planets were laughably bad. I rarely got an upgrade on ANYTHING. Your best bet (and hope) is to get a bonus reward for completing one of the in-game challenge orbs you’ll sometimes find. Otherwise? Good luck…
- Combat| I swapped my controller 1 time because I wasn’t sure if I wore out my controller or not. But the combat feels clunky and extremely unresponsive. Trying to fire your guns? Get ready for inconsistent fire rates. Wanna go for melee combat? Be prepared to mash your buttons, because your inputs either end up with a delay, or just feels janky as f-. And never mind thinking that you’ll be able to dodge some projectiles. Due to the bad camera positioning, you’ll often find yourself nearly taking a hit or getting hit by a slow-moving projectile, all because of the badly programmed camera…
- Camera| My goodness, is this something of a trend lately? A lot of games lately are releasing with broken camera mechanics. Due to some of the poor Tower placements (mentioned in the in-between section), some planet bosses spawn in between cracks or spaces where you wouldn’t normally be able to get to. But it’s with some of these bosses, the game just goes TURBO on the glitch scale. There is a certain boss that I love to call the puppeteer. He is a tall slender being, that marionettes a couple of enemies. If you stand to close, you’ll end up with a string attached to your head as well. If you’re unlucky to be standing near the spawn zone and it ends up being him? You’ll be teleported all over the place, resulting in a LOSS because you can’t control your own body NOR can you control the camera. I lucked out one time on one of these because it stuck me into an unreachable space, I couldn’t see myself because I was in the wall, but I could still use some of my abilities. Hurting him every few seconds, eventually killing him and getting myself a victory. But otherwise? You’ll find yourself in a death struggle between camera and foe, one which you’ll more than likely end up losing.
How long to beat the story | 20+ hours
How long to achieve 1000G | 30+ hours
You’ll love this game if you like these | Any type of roguelike
Shoulders of Giants is by any means not a bad game. It just lacks some polish to make it stand out. At its core, it’s amazing. In its execution? It really is found wanting… But I’m sure that when enough patches clean up a lot of the messes. You’ll come to really enjoy it!
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