Early Look at Golem by Highwire Games - Worth the lengthy wait?
We first heard about Golem way back in late 2015 at the PlayStation Experience. In October of 2016, when the PlayStation VR launched, Golem was featured on the back of the box as an exciting up and coming release. The title was seemingly synonymous with PlayStation VR in the early days. But as the months and years passed by, Golem continued to see delays. Many within the VR gaming industry openly wondered if this was a troubled project that might never see the light of day. Well, there's a saying that "all's well that end's well", and it could very well end nicely for Golem, Sony and developer Highwire Games.
Highwire Games, for those unaware, is a new studio being run by Marty O'Donnell of former Bungie / Halo fame. Many Highwire employees worked on Halo and Destiny for Bungie, or Infamous and other AAA type games for Sony and Sucker Punch. Jaime Griesemer, Vic DeLeon, and Travis Brady among others are on staff. Their tagline is "Old Dogs. New Tricks". Of course, Marty O'Donnell, the famous composer of Halo, is the main man running the show. He handpicked a key set of talent, and then set out to make a unique game, on a brand new, mostly untested medium.
The idea behind Golem is to tell the story of two sisters that share a special bond. One of the sisters is bedridden, the result of a terrible accident. However, she finds her freedom in her ability to possess the shoes of various Golem creatures, both large and small. In the very beginning, you start off controlling a tiny Golem creature in a world that might remind players of the 1989 movie, "Honey I Shrunk the Kids".
I have to admit, when I thought about playing Golem, the idea that I'd be in miniaturized world, dealing with giant bugs and insects wasn't something that popped into my mind. In fact, one early area reminded me of another classic film... Starship Troopers! Yep, if you're afraid of creepy-crawly things, Golem might have you jumping right out of your seat during certain moments. Some players are describing Golem as a full blown horror game. That's the nice thing about this title though, it's obviously a bit unpredictable. So many VR games share a similar theme and style, that something truly unique like Golem is a refreshing change of pace.
As you continue to work your way through the early stages of Golem, you eventually get to control much larger stone creatures, and this is where the game takes on a more adventurous identity. This is also where the melee combat comes into play. In early hands-on impressions of the game from 2016 and 2017, the melee combat seemed like a sore spot. Journalists complained that it didn't have that one to one feel that's so critical for a game of this type. If that was the case back in 2017, it's no longer the case in 2019. Using your sword to both attack and block feels pretty natural and effortless. The real key is with the timing and placement of your blade during blocks. In fact, this aspect of the game reminds me of another melee VR game that arrived recently, Until you Fall by Schell Games. While the game has that one to one freedom of control, you'll still need to get the feel of how the game wants you to block your opponents strikes. This probably will come with trial and error.
We've only just gotten our hands on the title mere days before it's official arrival on November 15th. So, it's possible our impressions could fluctuate in both positive and negative directions as we see more and more of Highwire's production. However one thing I can say for sure, is that this game is quite a bit better than most were probably expecting. Many have written this game off after so many delays and rumors, but if you completely ignore Golem, you might just be ignoring one of the more interesting VR releases of this 4th Quarter. We'll certainly keep you posted on this game and hope to have a micro-review very soon.