It’s Goblins and Champions week this week in the Great Indie Face Off. Or something like that. Two games that sort of hit me and hit hard for very different reasons. So let’s get going and check out this week’s indie games.

Champion Shift

Platforms: PC
Price: £5.89 (Early Access)
Steam Deck: Unknown (Works just fine)

Credit: Champion Shift

What an odd and interesting premise Champion Shift. Essentially… What if Vampire Survivors, right. But with Transformers and Warriors. Because that is essentially what you are getting. You know what? I down with the vibe.

Whilst there is a lot of similarities with a Vampire Survivors, Champion Shift also borrows a little from the likes of Overwatch, with the various different ‘Champions’ on offer and the abilities they have. Whilst at first I wasn’t convinced and found the onboarding a little confusing, I have soon found myself into longer sessions and having a blast.

The onboarding issue comes from thinking this is one type of game, but then jumping into something else. You see it almost starts with a Dead Cells vibe before dropping you into an arena where you are left to your own devices somewhat. It is a little bit of a genre whiplash, but one that only last the opening few minutes.

You soon grow into an “Oh, it’s another VS game.. cool” frame of mind, but it is the pretty cool mechanic of transforming between human(oid) and vehicle that add another layer to Champion Shift that could earn it a place in a rather crowded genre right now.

My initial impressions were the car thing was a gimmick and one that didn’t feel necessary, but as with any game in the genre, the more I played the more I learned and especially how switching forms can have a massive impact on a run. That there is good game design.

There are the usual unlocks and unlike VS, the missions are much more structured. Early on you’ll get very specific missions that you mist head to and then need to complete in order to unlock a boss battle, which you need to beat before moving on. So die and you start again, but with earned rewards that can be used to buff your chosen character.

I deliberately mentioned Dead Cells before, because that is something that for sure seems to be an influence here, especially with the progression system and the dev team have done brilliantly to make it work as well as it does.

Now this is in early access and there are some quirks I’d like to see worked out. As the menu UI makes things feel a bit live service (Fortnite, Valorant, Overwatch), but the game itself doesn’t feel like that. I hope this isn’t setting up for a (ahem) shift down the line, because I am excited to see this one do well.

Goblin Stone

DEVELOPER: Orc Chop Games
PUBLISHER: Orc Chop Games
Platforms: PC
Price: £20.99
Steam Deck: Unknown (Just fine)

Credit: GameTrailers

A few weeks back I accidentally referred to Darkest Dungeon II as a Deckbuilder (I am so sorry internet), so what if Darkest Dungeon mechanics, mixed with cards? Hmmm, what about hat internet!!!

That’s sort of the premise of Goblin Stone, a game that sort of came on my radar out of nowhere and has given me a fun time. So what more can I ask for?

Goblin Stone takes the age old idea of being the adventurer and twisting it. This time you are the Goblin minions and are fighting back as you try to escape the evil ‘heroes’. Look, it’s a story idea that whilst not totally original, does have a lot of heart and charm and does its primary objective well. Which is to surround the basic game with something interesting. Job done.

It is in the gameplay mechanics where the game both shines and also runs into a couple of hurdles. You have some very light platforming as you move through areas, then you have the main battle system, then you also have some base management stuff to deal with. The platforming we can ignore, as it is literally press right to move.

The main battles are fantastic though, combining Darkest Dungeon style party stances, where your party positions matter, as do the choice of attacks, based on the damage they do when you are in certain positions against enemy positions, etc. It could do with some balancing but overall I have found them to be challenging and rewarding. Honestly if you’ve played anything turn-based before, you’ll be comfortable here.

My issue comes with the colony management / base-building aspects. Where the rest of the game feels like it works together well, this feels separate, almost like it could be split out into its own game and fleshed out. There is nothing wrong as such, it is functional, but it just feels off. I understand the need to level up the party and the gene-breeding is cool, but yeah… I’m not convinced this is the best way to do it.

That being said, it hasn’t stopped me playing and having a really good time with Goblin Stone. If Darkest Dungeon is a bit bleak at times, then this is a warm fuzzy hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows.

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