[Nintendo Switch] Gordian Quest Review

by EdEN, Owner

Gordian Quest from Modus Games and Mixed Realms is a deckbuilding roguelite RPG worth checking out on Switch. Learn more in our Gordian Quest review!

Gordian Quest from Modus Games and Mixed Realms is a deckbuilding roguelite RPG worth checking out on Switch. As a fan of the genre who has reviewed games such as Slay the Spire, as well as Sea Horizon and Roguebook, I was definitely up for checking out Gordian Quest on Nintendo’s console. You’ll go on an adventure in the world of Wrendia, a land affected by a darkness that makes monsters and thieves propagate like the plague. It’s up to your group of heroes to do whatever it takes to fix things before it’s too late.

This particular experience builds on what other deckbuilding roguelite releases have given us before by adding a more fleshed out story and the option of jumping into a continuous adventure that has been inspired by games from the long-runnning and beloved Wyzardry and Ultima series, which certainly piqued my interest! You’ll be taking on a quest to save the land – or what remains of it! – from the sinister curse that corrupts it.

There are two options for playing: Campaign Mode and Realm Mode. If you go into Campaign Mode, you’ll be taking on what’s basically the game’s Story Mode, with an epic long-form adventure through multiple continents, in which you can spend dozens of hours playing. Realm Mode is a quick and frantic option that will have you taking on increasingly unfavorable odds as the game tests your skills while you try to see how far you can go. This one is of a more bite-sized nature than Campaign Mode since you’ll only be playing for a handful of hours.

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You’ll be taking on this journey with a group of three heroes by choosing from the available classes: Swordhand, Cleric, Ranger, Scoundrel, Spellbinder, Druid, Bard, Warlock, Golemancer, or Monk. As expected, each will have its pros and cons to consider, which is why it’s important that you learn more about each character, their stat values, and what makes each of them stand out – as well as their complexity rating – so that you can have a better idea of who you should put in your group.

First up is Lucius the Swordman. Lucius favors strength and dexterity and has a low value for intelligence, focusing on a good all-around HP value. He’s a former soldier who now wanders through the realm as a free agent, helping those in need. This allows him to use his abilities to focus on one-on-one fighting, with skills that are good for crowd control as he works on landing a solid hit that can turn the tide of battle. He has a one-star complexity rating, making him a good option for those new to the genre. Ida is a Druid, a wild child who wants to defend her forest no matter the cost. She also has good strength and dexterity values and trades some HP for a higher intelligence value. Ida’s abilities will focus on raw fighting power while also mixing in some elemental skills to make the most of her bond with nature.

Next up is Catherin, a Cleric of the Holy Order who trades dexterity for a big boost to intelligence while also retaining a solid value for strength, making her a good option for knocking some sense into enemies while also having access to skills that can empower, protect, and restore her allies as needed. Naran is a Bard who channels magic through her intricate melodies. Her stat values are balanced nicely, as long as you remember, she has low HP and keep her protected from taking one too many direct hits. She can use skills to manipulate the flow of battle while also working on boosting other members of the party so that they can do more with their innate abilities.

Bertram is the Ranger of the group, which means he has higher-than-normal dexterity and a good balance for strength, HP, and intelligence. Thanks to his abilities, he’s a natural scouter who can be called in for important expeditions that require his expertise. He can use different arrow types and bow techniques to get the job done and can use traps to keep enemies in check. Kudo is a powerful Warlock that can wield his own lifeblood as a weapon, as well as for nourishment. And when needed, he can also use the blood of others! He can also use voodoo magic and place curses on others. Kudo favors strength and HP, which makes sense since blood is what he uses for his abilities.

Alphonse the Scoundrel, who, as expected, favors assassin skills that focus on dealing a ton of damage with a single blow. He can also chip away at an enemy’s health by using poison. He has a good HP total, which I was not expecting for this particular class! Jendaya is a Golemancer, a very interesting class that commands a Golem that can deal solid damage while also defending Jendaya. She has a strong connection with the flow of this peculiar element known as luck, which can be crucial. Unfortunately, she has very low HP, which can prove to be difficult to balance.

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Pierre is a Spellbinder who has studied ancient magicks that the ancestors wielded. He focuses on using fire and ice to wreak havoc on the battlefield by making the most of his high intelligence stat value. Pierre can also conjure ethereal objects that can be used both to protect and attack. The last character is Shroud the Monk. He’s an acolyte from a monastery who has learned to use multi-hit skills and abilities while also keeping powerful single-hit high-damage attacks in his back pocket. He has good HP and high dexterity, which are definitely a plus.

The aforementioned characters will have a variety of skills, with hundreds of active and passive skills that will help to make a difference. Some examples of the skills you’ll be able to use include cards such as En Garde, which grants 6 Guard while allowing you to draw an extra card, or Parry, a very useful skill that makes it possible to gain 5 Guard while also gaining 2 Thorns, which will deal damage to any enemy that attacks you. There’s also Double Slash, which, as its name suggests, will allow you to deal 6 damage twice in a row.

Another example is Perseverance, a skill that can restore 2 HP to the caster as well as to allies while also restoring an extra 1 HP to the caster for every ally. And if you draw a True Strike, you can deal 18 damage while breaking through your enemy’s defense. Characters can also choose from different starting decks, which will change which cards they take with them into battle, thus changing how you approach each scenario.

During your time with Gordian Quest, you can also collect artifacts to aid you on your adventure. These include the Bag of Holding, which increases max supplies capacity by 2; the Golden Goblet, which increases how much gold the party finds by 15%; or the Quickening Charm, which will grant an extra point of dexterity to all heroes. Manage to find a Soulfire Lamp, and you’ll be able to increase the party’s initiative by 4. There are also special artifacts that will boost the stats of specific characters, so be sure to keep an eye out for those! Artifacts need to be unlocked by spending your Renown, and they must be equipped for their effects to come into play.

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The game can be played in one of five difficulty settings so that gamers of all skill levels can have a shot at enjoying their time with Gordian Quest. They are Easy, Normal, Hard, Nightmare, and Torment. The higher the difficulty setting you choose, the more Renown you’ll be able to earn for your efforts. When playing in Easy, enemies will deal less damage have less health, and there’s a 25% chance for Elite enemies to have special traits. Playing on Normal will allow you to take on the standard experience, balanced with enemies that will challenge you, and a 50% chance for Elite enemies to have special traits, which can prove to be a bit difficult for those of you who are new to the genre.

If you play on Hard, then your enemies will have access to stronger abilities, and there’s a 75% chance for Elite enemies to have special traits. To compensate for this, there will be a 5% increased item rarity. When playing in Nightmare, enemies deal more damage and have access to stronger abilities, Elite enemies and Bosses will have special traits, all while there is a 10% increased item rarity. Torment does its name justice, with enemies and Bosses that will punish you for any mistake that you make along the way. Is it worth the 15% increased item rarity? It’s up to you to decide!

On top of all that, you can decide to play through Gordian Quest by playing in Standard Mode, Roguelite Mode, or Roguelike Mode. If playing in Standard Mode, you’ll be able to revive in town when defeated in battle. If you decide to play in Roguelite Mode, then once your entire party is defeated, your run will end. The last option is Roguelike Mode, which will test your skills every step of the way. Heroes can’t be resurrected at the Sanctuary, which means that as your heroes fall, your odds of success will start to plummet.

When in battle, each of your characters will be allocated Action Points (AP) to spend. These are used to activate the cards on your hand that are pulled from your deck. Once a character runs out of AP, it will have to end its turn by pressing the Y button. You’ll have to pay attention to the actions of your enemies during each round so that you can take advantage of the cards that you draw during each subsequent round. An interesting element is that you can move your heroes around the battlefield by spending AP. Moving around the battlefield will allow you to use some cards based on your position while also allowing heroes to protect each other.

An important stat to consider is initiative. Once you enter combat, at the top of the screen, you’ll see icons for your characters as well as for enemies. By using the right analog stick, you’ll be able to check each unit’s initiative. If you have a higher initiative than the enemy, then you’ll be able to see their intent so that you can use this valuable information to plan your strategy accordingly. Knowing if an enemy will attack, use an ability, or try to defend is very important if you want to progress in Gordian Quest!

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The gold that you collect can be used back in town for a variety of options. You could visit the Sanctuary to considerably heal your party members’ wounds, remove negative persistent status effects, resurrect a fallen hero – if not playing in Roguelike Mode – or give alms to donate to a charitable cause. Buying a medicinal herb to restore some of a hero’s HP outside of battle or to add a Grit to your hand, or purchasing a small stamina vial could be a good option. A small stamina vial can be used as a consumable in battle to recover 1 AP, which can prove to be very useful. Do know that you won’t be able to go over your max AP.

You could also decide to visit the blacksmith to purchase new weapons and equipment for your heroes. Add a two-handed short bow to boost ranged attack damage. Get a mace to deal blunt damage while also granting a Press The Attack card, which can deal 7 damage to an enemy while also adding a copy of the skill to the discard pile. The final twist? You can deal +4 damage every time this skill is played this turn, so if you plan it just right with some special cards in your deck, you can certainly exploit it.

As heroes win battles and defeat enemies and Bosses, they will also be rewarded with experience points. Once a hero gains enough experience points, it will level up. This will award skill points, which can be used in each hero’s skill grid, where they can be spent to unlock the different nodes. To be able to unlock further nodes, the next node in the chain must be linked to a previously unlocked node. What can you get in exchange for your skill points? You could boost a hero’s dexterity, strength, intelligence, initiative, or HP, learn new skills, or even boost a card’s base values.

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Something that usually happens when a game makes its way from PC to consoles is that the text ends up being too small to be comfortably read on the TV screen unless you’re sitting very close to it. This is twice as true for the Nintendo Switch, since when playing in Portable or Tabletop Mode – or when playing on a Nintendo Switch Lite – trying to read the text on the screen can be quite the predicament. Hopefully this is something that the dev can work on fixing with a patch.

Gordian Quest is a solid deckbuilding roguelite RPG worth checking out on Switch. Unlike some of its peers that favor the endless loop of “this is the run I’ll be able to make it to the end” – which is also available here in Realms Mode – this one offers a Campaign Mode where you’ll end up unlocking all characters as you complete each of the different story acts, which can take you dozens of hours. There are a handful of difficulty settings, as well as the option of playing either in standard, roguelite, or roguelike variations that bump up the challenge. Other than the issue with the small font for the text, there’s not much to complain about this one. Gordian Quest is out on Nintendo Switch with a $19.99 price tag.

This Gordian Quest review is based on a Nintendo Switch copy provided by Modus Games.

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