Goliath Depot review

Turns out Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore isn’t the only unlikely Philips CD-i revival. Created by Twitch streamer SuperMegaDav, the idea for this old school single screen puzzle platformer comes from the CD-I’s Hotel Mario – a title which Nintendo had nothing to do with outside of a licensing agreement. You can watch SuperMegaDav play Hotel Mario on Twitch, and see how it dawns on him that the gameplay fundamentals are fun even though implemented terribly.

SuperMegaDav was right. There was a gem buried underneath the crust, and by polishing up the mechanics and concentrating on the feel of the game, SuperMegaDav has created a game that can stand proudly next to the best arcade platform games from the ‘80s.

Each level in Goliath Depot presents you with stages littered with platforms and doors that must be slammed shut. Shutting every door opens the level exit. Jump in, and it’s onto the next challenge. Every ten levels see a boss encounter, and after forty levels you’re done.

Goliath Depot review

Of course, things aren’t that simple – there are hazards and enemies to factor in. Luckily, you have two aces up your sleeve. Firstly, hiding in a door will make you invulnerable to enemies. Secondly, slamming a door shut sends a horizontal shockwave, turning nearby enemies blue. Once they’re blue, you can kick them off the screen for points. It’s also quite fun to do so.

Simple stuff so far, but when hazards, different enemy types, and new movement mechanics are introduced it can become as chaotic and fraught as any game of Pac-Man or Burger Time. Add in a timer, and it could be a recipe for frustration. It’s not, though, because the controls are remarkably refined.

It absolutely nails the fundamentals: the inertia of your character’s run, the arc and speed of the jump, the satisfying ‘thud’ of kicking an enemy off the screen, the list goes on and on. You can replay a level repeatedly and still find it fun because it feels so intuitive. Not only has Goliath Depot nailed the aesthetic of ’80s games, but also the feeling of the controller being an extension of your very synapses. Everything is snappy and tuned. It also helps that the music is great. Earworm chiptune bangers have you nodding along with their loops, and only accentuate the feeling of being in the zone.

Goliath Depot review

Goliath Depot doesn’t only throwback to old times. It has newer tricks up its sleeve to keep you coming back. Each level has challenges that unlock new characters when completed, plus a hard mode and collectable coins. Collecting coins allows you to buy continues and upgrades like the double jump and hover abilities. The double jump is particularly great and responsive and perfect for folks like me who are getting less agile in the fingers. There’s also a raft of new modes to unlock once you’ve completed all 40 stages. It’s a surprisingly generous package. Even if you’re not into speed running, or trying to smash your high scores, there is enough content to keep you playing for a while. You can also play in a couch co-op mode (which I couldn’t test prior to this review – sorry!)

Goliath Depot looks like quite a simple game, but there’s an effortless mastery behind it too. It’s just so immediate – the controls are intuitive, and there’s almost no time or friction between booting up the game and getting the first dopamine hit of closing doors and slamming enemies. Fast, intuitive and a whole lot of fun, this is Switch eShop gold.

Goliath Depot is out now on Switch. Published by Flynn’s Arcade.