Golden Force Review
There's always a special place in my heart for retro-style, 2D platform-shooters, and Golden Force from the developers at Storybird Studio is no exception. Like other games before it, Golden Force was obviously inspired by games from the genres' past. In this case, I can see the likes of Metal Slug and to some extent Cuphead mixed in there. But it also adds in a few elements that aren't often seen in this type of game. So how well does it stand out on its own in such a popular genre? Let's dive in.
Like most 2D shooters Golden Force doesn't shove a complex story at you. Instead it gives you a choice to pick one of four pirates to trek across the Muscle Archipelago islands, in an attempt to stop the Demon King and his generals from taking over. All while discovering treasure and wiping out determined adversaries and kicking mini bosses asses across 22 beautifully rendered stages.
Golden Force will be a tough game for most, but it's also rewarding with some forgiveness to account for its difficulty.
Golden Force introduces a wonderfully illustrated world filled with magically-pixelated stages that range from beaches, jungles, grottoes, woods, castles and much more. For those familiar with the Shantae series, you'll instantly feel at home with these eye-popping graphics and colors. I often found myself on the edge of death, forgetting to attack, as I stood there awestruck by the game's mesmerizing details and articulation each screen delivers. What I really like about Golden Force's level design is the fact that it's not entire linear. Not every path leads to your destination, as some lead to lost treasure, collectibles, or hidden battles, allowing increased replay value. While you're battling it out stage, be sure to avoid the levels' traps that will trip you up; or the switches that can totally flip the world upside down for a whole new way to play.
Some of you may have cringed when I mentioned Golden Force being reminiscent of Metal Slug-- which most align with extreme difficulty. But don't jump ship just yet. Golden Force will be a tough game for most, but it's also rewarding with some forgiveness to account for its difficulty. Enemies are usually only a hit or two from death, with bigger enemies taking a few extra hits, but the game never overwhelms the player with an excessive amount of on-screen enemies that will have you blowing your brains out. Just be sure to find the well-placed checkpoints to give you a boost of help.
My hands were exhausted with hitting them several times only to find out I only knocked a chip off their health.
The boss battles on the other hand are quite intense and maybe a little harder than what you'll experience in such games as Cuphead. Like Cuphead, bosses tend to work on patterns that are memorable, and once you've got it down they're easier to defeat. Each boss comes with a health bar that trickles down from 100 percent. Attacks aren't always equal to a single percent point per hit, either. You'll often find out that it can take several attack hits just to knock one percentage point off their health. So even when I had the varied attacks from the bosses down pat, dodging their missiles and lasers and energy balls and everything else they tried to throw at me, I became a little underwhelmed. My hands were exhausted with hitting them several times only to find out I only knocked a chip off their health.
Luckily, with the onslaught of relentless attacks I endured during my playthrough, the controls felt great. I never ran into any complications or bugs that hindered my progress during any stage; and I often found that mistakes made were often my own fault. And if you ever feel that you just can't go any further, there's a store to purchase power-ups and stat boosters before moving onto the next level.
Overall, Golden Force is a fantastic experience from start to finish. And just when I thought it had gotten too hard to go on, that only made me more determined to try again and again until I got to the next stage. I didn't have the opportunity to try co-op, but I will give that a mention for those who can. The beautiful worlds and intense battles and an excellent musical score really make Golden Force a force to be reckoned with. This game is available now on Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
A game code was provided for this review from the publisher for Xbox One.