Golden Force Analysis
Since indie games have smaller budgets available compared to their triple-A counterparts, it’s common for them to use games from the 8- and 16-bit generations for inspiration. Often indie games use a 16-bit art style, while also mimicking the general gameplay and high difficulty levels of the classics. Golden Force is one such game, but instead of making gamers long for the games of yesteryear, they’re more likely to be grateful for how far the industry has come.
Like many of the 16-bit era games that inspired it, Golden Force prides itself on its extreme level of challenge, to the point where players are likely to die trying to complete the tutorial. Golden Force immediately throws players into the fire, where they fight a Kraken-like boss with a fat health bar and multiple ways to kill the player. While it may seem harsh, it’s actually a decent way for players to learn the tricks they’ll need if they hope to survive the game’s increasingly difficult levels, and it certainly sets the tone for what’s to come.
There’s nothing wrong with a game with a high level of difficulty like this. In fact, some of the most critically acclaimed games on the market are defined by their challenge, from big-budget games like FromSoftware’s Dark Souls franchise to titles that have more in common with Golden Force, like Cuphead. But where the Cuphead and Dark Souls games are widely considered tough but fair, Golden Force is the furthest thing from “fair.”
Many deaths in Golden Force are due to cheap tricks like projectiles popping up on the screen or the game literally throwing players right on top of enemies. The camera tends to hide things, meaning players often have to go through levels by trial-and-error, which quickly becomes tiresome. But what pushes Golden Force’s difficult platforming and combat from tedious to unbearably frustrating are its many severe technical issues.
Golden Force has serious frame rate problems, at least on the Nintendo Switch version, where things slow to a crawl. Usually, this happens when there is a lot of action on the screen, but sometimes it happens for no apparent reason. This robs the game of impact from the otherwise intense combat and makes certain platforming challenges more difficult. And unfortunately, it’s 10 times worse when playing Golden Force’s local co-op mode.
Golden Force’s local co-op mode is broken in its current state. This makes the poor frame rate even worse, and it throws in a crappy camera for good measure. Instead of the camera pulling back like it does in most other games, it focuses on just one player, allowing the second player to leave the screen. A faint circle will appear to give the second player an idea of where they are, but it’s too small to really be useful in any meaningful way. The result is that players have to constantly watch each other’s movements to keep the camera from bouncing around and to keep the other from disappearing off-screen.
Design decisions like this make co-op feel like it was tacked-on without thinking. There are some parts of Golden Force that seem literally impossible for the second player to complete, sometimes the game doesn’t allow them to hang onto the ropes they need to climb or they fall through the gusts they need to use to cross wide. gaps. Other times, the second player will simply disappear when starting a new level.
Most of Golden Force’s many technical issues are most apparent when playing in co-op, but many glitches affect both single-player and co-op. The air gust glitch is present in both modes, forcing players to restart the level if they want to continue. Another glitch sees characters freeze in place when trying to use their super moves. And players will also notice that there are placeholder names in place of level titles, which, along with a litany of other issues, makes Golden Force feel unfinished all around.
If Golden Force wasn’t weighed down by its technical problems, the actual game would be an occasionally entertaining (if completely unremarkable) 2D action platformer. There are fleeting moments of fun when the frame rate works together, with simple but challenging combat and lots of interesting enemy design that help the game stand out a bit from many other 2D platformers on the market.
Golden Force’s greatest quality is its enemy designs, even the low-level enemies are well thought out. There are fat zombie creatures that rush at players, as well as armored, three-headed snails. Players also have to contend with strange sloth-like bears that have a ton of health and can damage their claws and the tentacles that randomly sprout from their backs.
The boss fights in Golden Force are something to look forward to, if only to see what new design the developers have dreamed up, even if actually fighting the bosses can be a miserable experience. Some of Golden Force’s early bosses include the aforementioned Kraken that players fight in the tutorial, as well as a giant shark-mech and a gigantic monkey robot. These boss fights are designed to completely overwhelm players, as it sometimes takes four to five hits to deal a single point of damage to each boss’ hefty health bar, and the screen is often full. of all kinds of deadly projectiles and obstacles.
Golden Force could have achieved the same feeling of games like Demon’s Souls where defeating these bosses is a rewarding experience, but the game’s technical problems prevent that from happening. Players don’t feel like they’ve conquered bosses when they defeat one of them in Golden Force; They feel like they got lucky and got past the poor frame rate.
The game could be more rewarding to play if there was an incentive to grind before fighting bosses, but Golden Force’s economy is very unsatisfying. The most important upgrades, such as extra health and longer combos, can only be purchased with limited collectible coins, as opposed to the massive wealth that players collect each stage. Basic wealth is instead used to buy limited use powerups, which don’t provide enough of an advantage to really be worth the investment and only seem to work half the time. There are many instances in Golden Force where players will try to increase their inventory screen, only for the game to refuse to do so for whatever reason.
Golden Force’s only replay value is finding the collectible coins in each stage as well as unlocking bonus levels, but doing so means enduring freezes, glitches that make it impossible to play. -development, and many more headaches. The four playable characters, which range from a humanoid dragon armed with an ax to an old man with mechanical arms, all seem to play the same, so there’s no point in replaying the game as a different character .
Golden Force has too many faults to recommend it, especially on the Nintendo Switch. It’s entirely possible that other versions of the game run better, as Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night did when it was first released, but that remains to be seen. But even if the game were fully run, Golden Force would still be saddled with a pointless progression system and frustrating level design meant to bombard players with cheap deaths. Those looking for their retro gaming fix should look elsewhere.
Golden Force launches on January 28 for PC and Nintendo Switch. Today Technology was provided with a Switch code for this review.