Golem is a point-and-click puzzle adventure game from Toronto’s own Longbow Games. This is a departure from Hegemony, their historical strategy franchise, which has received much positive feedback from the gaming community. It is never an easy decision to close one chapter and begin another, but this transition to a puzzle adventure game is a welcoming addition as it encapsulates a peaceful atmospheric presence as you journey alongside a young girl and a shape-shifting golem who must explore an ancient tower and solve the many mysteries concealed within to reactivate its dormant machines. It is a journey into the unknown that most fear, but after taking the first step, a rewarding experience awaits.
Golem will take you on a journey across ten levels set within an ancient tower. The first level is tutorial driven to help guide you through understanding how puzzles and environmental hindrances will need to be overcome in order to progress. With the completion of each level comes an increase to the overall difficulty, culminating in a refined puzzle experience beginning at the eighth level. When performing an action or movement, a highlighted path appears showing the route being taken that can also be sped up for those who do not like waiting. Failure to follow the steps necessary to complete a puzzle will otherwise lead to a roadblock or backtracking. If at first you do not succeed, try again.
It is made apparent early on within Golem that there is a significant importance built around the character’s relationship while working together and the theme of an evolving gameplay experience. Level design begins on a small scale as your golem companion is discovered as a magical sphere, who needs to be rolled around to reach safe passage to the next area. You will find yourself placing the golem on platforms and raising it up while you climb vines to reach it, until you find the first magical pool that evolves it into a two-legged golem. Now it needs to be told to either wait or follow the young girl. The cooperation between the two will have them helping each other with the hope of meeting up at a magical door that can only be opened by the golem’s presence.
Each door opened grants the player access to new levels and puzzles on a much larger scale. The fourth level showcases the impressive multi-sided game design where players will have to traverse each side to reset gears into the correct position. Players are also able to zoom out and pan across the map. This oversight of the level’s entirety gives the player the tools required to determine possible routes, understand the puzzles presented and which need to be prioritized, and the actions needed in order to overcome the challenges. The complexity of puzzles from this point on warrant logic and a close attention to detail as four sides will have to be taken into consideration while strategizing the order of steps that need to be taken.
The next stage in golem’s evolution transforms it into a dog-like form that can now be told where to go and can even traverse gaps, but it can only operate within a certain proximity of the young girl. Full cooperation between the two will need to occur in order to overcome additional puzzles that feature mechanics such as standing on triggered platforms to grant access along different routes, using weighted mechanics to propel objects to break walls, moving carts along rails, and pulling numerous levers that serve a multitude of purposes.
The golem’s next stage of evolution turns it into a gorilla-like golem that can now be ridden and adds an elevated element of movement as it can now traverse the level through swinging. This movement is fully relied upon in the eighth level, which can be overwhelming due to its large multi-sided design. Players will have to reposition mirrors to bring about sunlight along a path to heat up the water within a boiler. The evolutionary process concludes with the golem shifting into an anthropomorphic form. Players must now select and decide where to move between the young girl and the humanoid golem. The golem can also manipulate the environment by levitating objects to create platforms to cross and fill baskets with boulders to break down walls.
Players may get stuck resulting in momentary frustration, but this is part of the learning experience, as is with completing tabletop puzzles. If players were told where to go and what to do in order at all times, the entire atmosphere and experience would collapse. Therefore, any complaints regarding not knowing where to go should be withheld as it is an integral part of the experience that players need to overcome resulting in a significantly more rewarding feeling upon overcoming such challenging encounters. These more difficult levels are contrasted perfectly with the tranquil audio and visual presentation.
Golem features a very stylistic visual presentation throughout all levels that are brought to life through particle effects, environmental textures, and lighting. The designs featured on walls throughout also tell a story of the ancient tower and how it played an integral role in their civilization, but more importantly the designs are brought to life as the golem passes them with the cooperation of the young girl. A great attention to detail was paid for bringing each environment to life visually and while the audio helped fuel the immersive atmosphere, there were a few instances where audio was lacking such as when pillars and other objects came crashing down. At times, the camera can hinder movement and make you lose sight of objects, but several patches have recently corrected these issues as the development team responded quickly to this hindrance.
Golem is a PC puzzle adventure game that features an evolutionary experience where you learn and grow as a team and utilize the knowledge gained previously to overcome any challenges that arise in the distant future. The attention to detail is showcased through careful execution of gameplay mechanics and design. The scale and complexity of each level is crafted to engage and reward players as they progress throughout the story, solving one puzzle at a time. Golem comes highly recommended at utilizing logic to solve a multitude of puzzles.