Review: Shoulders of Giants – Trying Hard to Heat Up

Shoulders of Giants on the Xbox Series consoles is a good example of when a concept sounds great but is ruined by poor execution. The idea of animals controlling robots to help them battle enemies and explore planets seems like a cool idea. And honestly, it can be very much. However, something as interesting as that can be overshadowed in a game filled with bugs, poor framerates, and randomly generated issues that can appear at the worst of times. Not even the cutest animal piloting the greatest mech could remedy such a bad combination of problems.

The plot of the game has you and a group of anthropomorphic creatures working together to save planets from falling to darkness to the forces of Entropy. You do this by restoring the heat, or light, of planets by defeating enemies and destroying monoliths that are corrupting planets. Saving planets not only restores life to those worlds but helps power up your weapons and abilities. Add in some animal allies to help you along the way and large environments to explore, and you have a good foundation for what could be a good time. While Shoulders of Giants has the elements of a good sci-fi adventure, it’s everything else about the game that takes away the charm of its story.

The best and worst aspects of the game can be found in the combat and the randomly generated locations. Because this is a rogue-like experience no two locations are ever truly the same, which can be said for their high and low points. From the powerful abilities and attacks, you can find and use, to the weird visual filters and obstacles that can obscure your view of the action as you explore. This can often lead to some very frustrating and highly-inconsistent spikes in difficulty, depending on the planet you visit and what abilities you end up using while there.

Visually the game can be colorful in some moments and then look like a mess in others. The framerate can be jarring when you’re running around or dropping into new areas, especially in tight spaces with multiple enemies. Some planets can make it incredibly hard for you to see around with ridiculous stipulations, such as putting you into a place where there’s no light and you have to find to navigate around you. It’s incredibly frustrating and not fun when this happens and you have no indication of something like that happening when you enter a planet. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it happens enough to be a notable hassle that feels like a cheap obstacle to deal with.

Most enemies you encounter will have varying degrees of strength, with some enemies feeling overpowered compared to others for no reason. Most situations will require you constantly move around and avoid getting hit, but the degree that enemies pursue you or the amount of damage they deal won’t always feel like it makes total sense. This could be due to the randomly generated aspects of the planets, but it never seems clear while in the game.

Moving around on your robot will be hit or miss for most people. The controls aren’t mapped out poorly, but how you and your robot will often feel stifled. At first, you have few options for mobility until you find abilities to help out. Defeating enemies with your attacks and destroying monoliths can drop stronger attacks and other helpful abilities. But because this is a rogue-like, you won’t always find the same abilities open to you, let alone dropped by your adversaries. It can be annoying when you’re forced to get around obstacles in ways that feel like they’re wasting time or made inconvenient without any real purpose. It doesn’t help either on some planets when your objectives are spread out so far apart or placed in difficult locations that are frustrating to get to and back from, and it doesn’t make it easier when you need to fight enemies that lurk around.

What makes the game infuriating at times is you can lose a lot of your progress if you end up failing on a planet. Dying not only takes away the heat you generate from liberating planets, but you also don’t keep any items or equipment you pick up beforehand. Even if you finish a section of a planet and fail on the next, you lose both your loot and the planet itself. This can make getting situated with the game at the start a hassle when you’re being severely punished before you even get a chance to fully engage with everything.

The only thing you get to keep is the experience generated from defeating enemies, which can be used to unlock perks and boosts in the hub area. However, it doesn’t feel like has a significant impact on your ability to deal with challenges on new planets until you are able to unlock multiple boosts over an extended period. Getting new equipment, such as new blades for your robot or projectiles for your animal, is a better alternative to make things more manageable. But unless you’re able to complete a planet and save it by completing all objectives and defeating the boss enemy in the end, you won’t be able to keep anything you find.

But what about the multiplayer? Does it make any difference when trying to open up options for your character and how you approach planets? Not always, especially if you find yourself running into trouble during multiplayer lobbies. You can team up with three other players and liberate planets for big rewards, but that depends on whether or not you have a stable connection to everyone else and don’t get thrown into a very difficult planet to explore. Enemies can be very powerful and hit incredibly hard, depleting your life before you know it and forcing you to wait until the start of the next area to get back in. Teammates can’t respawn or assist you if you’re taken out, so you’re forced to wait until they finish up the area or fail.

As an indie game that is trying something different than usual, Shoulders of Giants has a few neat ideas that can work. But as is now, much of the game doesn’t pan out well. There are way too many technical issues that can make for a frustrating experience and make parts of the game difficult to play through and enjoy. Even with updates to the presentation and gameplay to come post-release, it’s very hard to recommend Shoulders of Giants to anyone given many of the problems that it currently has. There’s something good in here, but everything around it is too much of a pain to deal with.

Do you like playing indie games on any platform? Have you gotten to play Shoulders of Giants yet? Tell us everything in the comments below!

Shoulders of Giants
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This game has a lot of technical issues that get in the way of the core experience. The presentation can get rough with inconsistent frame rates and visual effects make things look worse. While the concept of the game seems interesting at first, things take a bad turn when you get deep into combat and exploration. Multiplayer can be fun but suffers from the same problems and more. strives to be an apolitical, balanced and based pop culture news outlet. However, our contributors are entitled to their individual opinions. Author opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of our video hosts, other site contributors, site editors, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. This website contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. We disclaim products or services we have received for review purposes, as well as sponsored posts.

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Jakejames Lugo
Jakejames Lugo
Jakejames Lugo is a writer and content creator that has been covering video games, movies, and various sides of entertainment for over a decade. He has published reviews and articles on many different outlets and continues to make content for different platforms. Jakejames also makes video content regularly for places like YouTube and TikTok, and share daily posts about gaming on social media.

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