The words Grey Goo popped up in an article on Reddit. People were tracking the release of the game and compiling reviews almost Metacritic style. Upon reading the title, I immediately thought it was about some mobile release. I clicked the thread and read through the comments, which eventually took me to the Steam Store page for Grey Goo.
A sci-fi real time strategy game? Not what I expected. The screenshots were reminiscent of StarCraft II upon first glance. Which is funny, because that was the last RTS game I played when SCII: Wings of Liberty was released in 2010. I mainly dabble in RPG and sim games, mixed with an FPS here and there. I just find myself with little time (or skill) to try out RTS games. So beg pardon if you read a lot of comparisons to SC.
The legendary guardians… the Beta.
Grey Goo greets you with an opening cinematic that gets you centered into the heart of the story. The Beta, an alien race that sounds as though they hail from Australia, are trying to maintain a keyhole and beacon relay when they are attacked. This event sets off the story of the campaign, where you will command 3 factions to control Ecosystem 9. These factions are the Beta, the Humans, and the Goo.
Goo? Grey Goo! It all makes sense. But was it named after Grey Box, its publisher? Were the developers at Petroglyph trying to score some Beta Brownie Points? My guess is that it was more about “a hypothetical end-of-the-world scenario involving molecular nanotechnology in which out-of-control self-replicating robots consume all matter on Earth while building more of themselves…” (thanks Wikipedia!). The immediate impression of the cinematics, voice acting, and visuals in Grey Goo don’t go unnoticed. This is a pretty game. And if they can give you more of a reason to feel invested in the plight of these factions, so be it.
Sorry Humans, there is no teleporting out of this.
After a tutorial mission, to which I failed the first time, it felt good about getting my RTS chops back. Rapid and quick decisions are key, so knowing your hot keys is almost a no brainer, especially if you play online. My first failed attempt was due to my incessant idling as I tried figuring out the mechanics of the Beta from the get go. I was immediately overwhelmed when my enemy showed up at my base in what seemed to be a mere 5 minutes into the tutorial. Luckily, I reloaded and figured things out much more quickly to take out my enemy. Also provided is an Encyclopedia that describes each unit in case you forget or if you need a refresher on tech trees or build orders.
The campaign missions play out like any RTS campaign you may have played in the past where you start with one faction, move along the story until you reach another faction, and the portfolio diversifies from there. The story is solid enough to keep you progressing and feel like you are making progress.
All your base are belong to us.
Each faction has their strengths and weaknesses, and their play styles are much different. The Beta utilize hubs to which you build upon your base, and are masterful in constructing powerful bases to operate out of during the campaign. Expansion is a little more difficult to them than the Humans, but they can get the job done. They play a lot like the Humans do in StarCraft.
The Humans of Grey Goo have developed teleportation, to which they rely on to build there bases by teleporting in and out components. That means you can pick up a base and move it around very quickly if your enemy is overwhelming you. I dawdled on these “bases” as I played the Beta initially, trying to take out a base while not knowing the Humans were already reorganizing somewhere else on the map. The Humans remind me a lot of the Protoss of SC.
The Goo and its dolls.
The Goo are an entirely different mechanic altogether. It is all about survival with this faction. There is no building of bases or gathering of resources. It is all about consuming and growing and moving on. It is nothing you will be used to in an RTS. You start off as a Mother Goo who basically harvests a resource to grow out her little Proteans. These units can have different classes depending on your patience, like the other factions, that give the Goo a lot of flexibility on the fly, apart from the fact that these Mother Goos can move about wherever they please. Scouring through Steam message boards, people either love the Goo or hate it, so I will let you come to your own opinion about it.
Grey Goo offers both single-player and multiplayer modes, along with a Skirmish mode to test your meddle. I didn’t even attempt the multiplayer mode, because I am just not that great at RTS games against other seasoned veterans (I am probably what you would call a noob). But the Skirmish mode is great to test out factions, build orders, game difficulty, and experimenting with tech upgrades. I played this mode quite a bit to get a better edge on my opponents before wasting time in the campaign losing.
She may as well be a real person with these stunning visuals.
Which leads me to my last point in that this game is challenging. Like I have made it known previously, I am a novice of RTS games. I had a lot of trouble getting through certain parts, and had to reload to get myself straight in my objectives. There is a lot to know as far as strengths and weaknesses between units, and it can become a bit overwhelming at times.
But that is more my laziness to learn the system versus what an RTS junkie would love to delve into. I’ve described the game to multiple friends who have invested a lot of time into SCII and they sounded genuinely intrigued by this game. Seeing as a casual RTS player like myself enjoyed this game, I think that fans of the genre will love it.
Ecophagy at its finest
Gameplay - 8.5/10
Challenge - 9.0/10
Design - 9.5/10
Grey Goo is a challenging RTS that should excite fans of the genre and hopefully resurrect the dismal output this genre has been faced with the past several years.