When the game opens, your ears are greeted with upbeat dance music while you choose your character and stage. You are then thrown into an arena where the walls themselves mean your demise. The round starts, you blink, and next thing you know, it’s over and the walls are suddenly colorful. This is the experience that is ‘Gurgamoth’.
Gurgamoth now on Nintendo Switch
Gurgamoth was one of the first games from the Quantum Astrophysicists Guild, creators of ‘Tumblestone’ and ‘The Bridge’. The game Gurgamoth was first released on Steam in February 2016, to largely unimpressed reviews. We gave it a go playing Gurgamoth on Nintendo Switch, released August 2019 to see if years had improved the game.
What is Gurgamoth?
The premise of the game is that you are trying to sacrifice enough cultists in order to awaken the elder god Gurgamoth. The game play is really simple, with only two buttons and the joystick being utilized, but the real challenge comes in mastering the levels and anticipating your friends/bots.
Gurgamoth is a flying, fighting game where the level itself is your weapon and each match is lightning quick with the aim of getting in your opponent’s head. More players the better, and the four characters fight with environmental kills rather than moves.
When the match starts everybody is in a different corner of the map (the corner you start in is random at the start of every round) and you have only a couple of choices to make in a matter of split seconds. One button allows you to attack, which rams you into the opponent to send them into a wall or trap. The other button allows you to dodge and that gives you a moment of invincibility. If you double click on your dodge button you are also able to make a field around yourself that will let you stun an opponent for a second.
It really makes ‘Gurgamoth’ play out like a game of chess… if chess meant sacrificing the loser to an elder god.
Gurgamoth’s Stages Are No Match For You
In each match you can decide how many ‘sacrifices’ it takes to awaken Gurgamoth, and these can go from sudden death to decently long matches. Game play utilizes a stamina type system that determines how many actions you can take and they recharge over time. There is an auto balance system in place that helps a player have a fighting chance when they start to get behind in sacrifices. This system will reward players with more or less stamina depending on where they rank on sacrifices and can also be toggled off in the options.
Most of the time I played the long form matches and used the auto balance because without that I lost to the bots quite a bit. Also, matches with a few players’ characters tended to last a lot longer than matches with just one player v. bots.
The stages themselves are themed differently, but all have a sameness to them. It would be nice to see a greater variety of stages. The characters behave the same way, just differently skinned and represented by different colors. A nice added detail is when characters die they leave color splatters on the stage until the match is over. Personally my favorite level was called the Tomb of Legion. That level has a giant spike ball that you ram into and try to send it flying into your sacrifices. The trick to that is to try to keep control of the ball, and then run like hell when the other balls start to spawn in.
There are also powerups in levels that will grant unlimited stamina or even slow down time. These can certainly change the tide of each round and more than once I found myself becoming the sacrifice due to a well timed powerup. This can be changed for each match. Any advantage you can get is important since these matches are over so quickly. Sometimes you will not even get a chance to move across the arena before you are sacrificed.
The music is very upbeat and invigorating – in other words, it is perfect for a fighting game. The levels and the selection screens each have their own unique music. My only complaint is that the track loops can tend to be very short. It is not very noticeable in the shorter form matches, but in the longer matches it can get a little repetitive.
There is a great setup and potential for storyline here but it doesn’t go anywhere. When you reach a win state you are greeted with a splash screen simply stating that “X character awakens Gurgamoth”. It would be nice to see a little bit more substance beyond that since they went to the work of creating such a cool premise.
Gurgamoth TLDR: Pros and cons
- Quick paced
- Easy to learn controls
- Quirky art style and Stage variety
- Upbeat and unique music
- Auto balance feature
- Lack of storyline/ game progression
- Short and repetitive music loops
- No real difference in characters
Overall I would say that this is a fairly middle of the road game. I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the game and the little added touches here and there, such as colored character blood after sacrifices and the auto balance. It is a great little game to pick up for a bit and challenge your friends and family with. If you are really feeling up for a fight you can go head to head with a harder level bot.
That being said, I am having a difficult time seeing the replay value. All the stages and characters were unlocked from the start and so there was no incentive to push and take on harder challenges. Even a solid storyline would have been a nice addition since there was such a great set up for one. All in all it is an interesting new take on a fighting game, but lacking more substance. ⅗