Goblin Stone Review – The Underdogs Effectively Fight Back

There are many depictions of goblins throughout the media and Orc Chop Games’ turn-based strategy RPG, Goblin Stone, takes one of the sympathetic views. In the setting, goblins are just natural creatures minding their own business and making friends with the wildlife. But humans and other races are intruding on the goblin’s home, slaughtering or capturing non-humans. When a few goblins manage to escape, they decide to bond together and form a group that fights back.

The goblins aren’t trained forces; they are woodland dwellers trying to get along. You must build your goblin army from scratch, finding weapons and testing new abilities. Most of your goblins will die in battle or be forced to retire. It’s a long grind especially because speeding through the regions puts you at a disadvantage. You must deal with failure and slowly gather resources, turning your goblins into fighting threats.

Goblin Stone Review Hero Encounter
When humans meet goblins, it usually doesn’t go well.

Goblins do not grow as they win battles, having pre-determined stats and traits from recruitment. You must breed stronger goblins who hopefully inherit better stats and traits, which are then passed down to newer generations. By finding new classes, configuring your army, and breeding the strongest goblins, you eventually overcome your foes. It’s one of the game’s biggest selling points but also a double-edged sword.

On one hand, it resembles an actual drawn-out conflict. Goblins are never going to overpower the humans immediately. It takes time and casualties do happen. You must plan for future generations because they are more likely to succeed against powerful foes. This immerses you in the gameplay and your goblins because you are concerned about their welfare. Past and future generations are equally important, and every adventure is a step towards success.

Goblin Stone Review Breeding Stats
Breeding is slow but eventually pays off.

On the other hand, it slows down progression significantly. Because your goblins don’t level up, you are inherently forcing a slow pace on players. It’s not easy finding the right combination or even figure out how breeding works. You want to take on more powerful enemies, explore new worlds, and expand your warren. But you can’t because you aren’t strong enough and there’s no good way to progress.

That’s not to say good tactics or proper planning aren’t important. However, creating stronger goblins is essential to reaching more powerful enemies and defeating them. Even if luck swings in your favor, risking your fragile team for a potential step towards progress isn’t easy. But it goes back to the idea that this conflict takes time and you won’t get there in a single day.

Goblin Stone Review Conquering Location
Pick the right path and you reach the final tower.

Exploration is straightforward but you get the chance to pick separate paths at the cost of closing one off. It makes you think about what your goblins need or the risks you are going to take. Sometimes your gambles pay off or leave you worse than you started. As painful as the risks are, it goes back to the calculating nature of Goblin Stone.

The combat UI is intimidating at first but it’s easy to understand with time. You learn when characters are taking their turn, how to delay your enemies, and planning combinations. It’s surprisingly complex despite the simple mechanics as you must consider various tactics. Is it worth stalling an enemy or finishing them off outright? Can you fight against various enemies or should you focus on the big threats? Everything in combat is a risk, slowly coming under your control as your goblins become stronger.

Goblin Stone Review Halfling Battle
Even when the odds are against you, try again later.

One of the most interesting parts about the game is the design. While goblins have had crueler appearances in media, Goblin Stone portrays them as cute critters. They aren’t adorable but they look almost harmless, as if they are only protecting themselves and other wildlife. Humans and other humanoid beings aren’t gruff, overbearing monsters. Even the tutorial that exposes you to a hero’s party looks as you would expect from adventurers. No one is over-the-top evil, but someone trying to make a name for themselves. Whether that’s goblins helping out as woodland protectors or heroes trying to become famous. It makes it easier to sympathize with the goblins but also recognize that the humans aren’t necessarily villains. It’s true they are hunting goblins but there’s no other way to get experience for their mission.

Goblin Stone takes some inspiration from other games which may make it seem like a clone. But there’s enough challenge and work that goes into your journey that stands out. It will be a long slog at times and it can be frustrating. But it’s all part of the process when you work with goblins that weren’t normally built as fighters. Once everything falls into place, you will enjoy what you have built.

Victor played Goblin Stone on PC with his own bought copy.

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