Built using Unreal Engine 4 by Lost Goblin and Outerdawn Limited, Goblins of Elderstone is a city-building strategy game with a chaotic twist. Though it was released all the way back in January 2018, the game is still in early access.
Shape The Future Of Your Goblins
As the game is still in early access, this means the game still contains bugs, unbalanced mechanics and occasionally strange behaviour. With a modest 6/10 average score review on Steam, let’s take a look and see what the devs have been up to for the last few years.
At it’s core, Goblins of Elderstone is a city-building strategy game where you shape the future of your Goblins. Using your cunning, wits and smarts you must decide what your goals, morals and limitations are. We begin our journey with a backstory – but unlike most games, we decide what that story is. We can be good, neutral or evil. Prioritise war, trade or faith. Choose divinity, nature or arcane. Players can even decide on the main enemy type, from a choice of Orcs, Dwarves, Humans and Elves.
Jumping into the game, we’re first presented with a map room and clan building screen. Here we can choose our location and build a tribe that best suits our playstyle. Each Goblin has his/her own unique traits, which lean towards war, trade or faith. Some Goblins can only be used for certain activities like war jobs, but are remarkably skilled in that area. Other Goblins are more jack-of-all-trades style and dabble in bits of everything. Note: you’ll want to enable tutorials if you’re a first-time player.
Once our clan is formed and we’ve chosen a start area, the typical “Build Town Hall” tutorials begin. However, Goblins of Elderstone does have some unique features. Firstly, instead of simply training new units like most games, we have to assign a breeder to our Grand Hall. Yep, you read that right. Breeding new Goblins is the only way to expand our colony. Note, happy Goblins will have a higher birth rate.
Another unique little feature is how the buildings are connected. Typically in a colony sim, buildings are placed side by side in an effort to maximise space and not block the path of our units. In this game though, buildings become physically connected with a labyrinth of interconnected bridges. This not only allows our units to move around more efficiently, but it also looks incredibly cool. Rotating buildings affects how the bridges connect and intercept, it’s super fun.
Besides the usual building mechanics, colonies must be self-sufficient. This means managing your tangible resource and keeping an eye on your Goblins. Traits such as Satisfaction and Health must be managed. Where you build will massively impact your resource and the type of worker you need, so bare this in mind when choosing a location for your colony. Dissatisfied Goblins will rise up and create politics, and that will really throw a spanner in your works.
Other than this, the game is your typical colony sim builder. Build your base, manage your resources and ensure sufficient defences are in place to protect against invasion. My only concern is it’s very much an “all at once” approach, meaning it can be a little overwhelming to get started. Other than this, the game plays pretty well.
Graphics & Audio
Being in early access development, Lost Goblin & Outerdawn Limited are still releasing regular monthly updates to help fix bugs, tweak mechanics and generally improve performance. Some graphical glitches do appear from time to time, but to be fair it’s nothing major and not game-breaking.
Visually, Goblins of Elderstone has a low-poly, cell-shaded art style which really suits the genre. It reminds me of most of the games like Astroneer or Clash of Clans. Because of this, the game doesn’t lag when your settlement grows, as it can in other colony sims.
Audibly the game provides everything you’d expect from a Goblin civilisation. It’s packed full of all the typical goblin noises; snoring, grunting, sighing… There’s no speech as such, but the Goblins do make noises to one another, which is pretty cool to listen to.
The minimum specs for Goblins of Elderstone are; Quad-core Intel or AMD cpu 2.5GHz+, 8GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce 680 or equivalent, DirectX 11 and 400MB available space. As you can imagine the game ran perfectly well on my usual rig; Ryzen 7, RTX 3070, 32GB RAM. One thing I was pleasantly surprised to see, is the game includes various options for any Goblins who are colour-blind. These options include; Deuteranope, Protanope and Tritanope settings. It’s great to see this kind of accessibility.
Goblins of Elderstone is surprisingly addictive, I didn’t expect to be playing it in 2-hour stints but I really was enjoying expanding my colony. I guess this playtime is slightly counteracted by the build timer of each structure though, as in reality, you spend most of your time waiting for jobs to complete – idling if you will. Combat was also something I didn’t really get to experience much of. I’m guessing that comes more in late-game?
That being said, the game offered just enough to keep things interesting and the time genuinely flies by while playing. Where you’ve built, what enemy you choose and what kind of playstyle you opt for will massively affect your longevity. Replayability is also quite high, as there are different pantheons, enemy types and backstories to go and choose from.
Goblins of Elderstone is a pretty cool colony sim with a bit of a twist. It offers just enough uniqueness to make it stand out in the crowded genre. My only real worry is that the game has been in early access since January 2017. It would be great to see a cut-off point and a finished game finally released. With 163 mixed reviews on Steam, the general consensus is that the game has great potential but lacks polish in certain aspects. I think the game would benefit from a final launch and a bit of a reboot, to try to bring new players. Let me finish off by saying, however, that Goblins of Elderstone is certainly worth its £15.49 price tag.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.