Five swords of varying power, and a sharp tongue to boot, mixed in with a hankering for meat? Welcome to Goken, an action RPG with an interesting twist, from the creative minds of Gianty Inc. The player takes control of Edge, or whatever you decide to name him, an ancient hero and wielder of the five swords, who was defeated after attacking the God Ozone. Imprisoned in a frozen plinth for thousands of years, Edge is finally released by the hands of a young girl from the nearby mountain village, only to find his swords have been scattered with only one remaining in his possession. An adventure it is then to recover the blades before they fall into the wrong hands, and resume his place as a true hero of the land. Of course, after plenty of meat is consumed, naturally.
You try sprinting after being on ice!
First and foremost, Edge is very responsive, if a little too sensitive from time to time, and moves well if a bit slow. The animation for him running plus the sound felt a bit out of sync with the actual speed of movement, and since the map is very broad, you will find yourself spamming the dodge dash to travel more distance quickly. Combat is straightforward with light and heavy attacks to hammer, and a hot bar for hurriedly grabbing a quick heal item, but the stamina bar will drain super fast from attacking and dodging. Enemies also re-spawn incredibly speedily once killed, so if you choose to dither or get lost and need to circle back, be prepared for another fight. Now you don't have to kill all of the monsters, however with such a swift leveling system it is worth grinding, as the difficulty ramp will jump suddenly.
Show me your ink dude
From an RPG perspective, there is not a huge amount of customization in this game. Whilst you can switch up your swords when you find them, each level gives your stats a standard boost. There is the tattoo system, allowing the player to select from a list of attributes which is then given to Edge in the form of a tattoo. I like this as it is certainly a different way of relating status changes within the game world, but I think it would be better if it was more skill tree based for new abilities rather then just a few stat enhancements.
Also I had beef with hit boxes, including my own. Since Edge does feel weighty, and reflects this in his lack of swiftness, the dash dodge moves you into the fray much faster, but this often results in a smidge of lag. Sometimes sword swinging does no damage even when sat on the baddies' snakey face!
Looking good for five thousand years old
The art style for Goken blends a beautiful hand drawn backdrop with detailed 3D models, and even includes some gorgeous artwork for each of the creatures you face in your battle log. The weather changes are marvelous, especially the drastic transformation of a sunny beach town to a downpour among the overgrowth. Despite this though, I did have a sense of emptiness in the world. So much map to traverse with very little in it, as there does not seem to be any side quests to tackle either. I couldn't help feeling like something was missing, and although the design is stunning I had no real reason to explore it. Plus I missed a way-point, I got lost a lot! On the other hand, there is a groovy soundtrack to this title, from the opening screen to in game sword clashes. I was definitely tapping my foot on multiple occasions.
Food first, world saving later
Like many heroes before him, Edge has food on the brain, and seems to be won over by a good meal in most circumstances. But perhaps one of the biggest surprises I had when playing this game was how sassy he is! Perhaps it is my own fault for expecting a stereotypical samurai hero bound by honor with a stoic personality. Not here friends, this guy has the attitude of a teenager, and I loved it! Aloof and grumpy, he seems mostly indifferent to the woes of each village, only really concerned over reclaiming his swords and reminding everyone of how amazing he still is. I actually found this one of the biggest draws of the game, as there was a lot of humor to be had, and something that dares to break the mold provides a unique experience.
If your curiosity has been piqued, Goken is now available as an early access game on Steam, with a link to their site here should you wish to learn more. I think there is some smoothing to do, but the makings of something awesome is there for sure.
Fives swords, one bad tempered hero, an angry God, and a world stuck in the middle! This is Goken!
Don't forget to come say hello in our new Discord group EAG Community, a place of much laughter and banter about all things games.