II’ve got another Steam Deck Game Review hot and ready to serve! Today’s game is Gripper (Heart Core) for Steam for $20. I love it when brand new, multi-platform games are released at only $20. But, does that mean it’s a good Steam Deck game at that $20 price point? Here, I’ll break it down as best as I can for you.
Gripper is a story-driven action game with boss fights on wheels. Tear your enemies apart with a grappling hook. Rip out their metal hearts to gain abilities. Rescue your family and uncover the secrets of the collapsing world.
- Grip-and-rip bosses apart with your bike’s hook and finish them with their own weapons.
- Discover and tear out the hearts of colossal bosses to gain new abilities.
- Explore post-apocalyptic cyberpunk biomes which will form a vast world to travel through.
- Ride through nightmarish tunnels to the beat of incredible tracks, staying alert for QTE’s and flying debris.
- Obtain upgrade points to gain access to improved health, shields and gadgets.
- Immerse yourself in the story and metaphor surrounding each boss.
- Audio. As you all probably know by now, I love nitpicking the audio of a game. Probably because a game is still presenting music and atmosphere to you even if you close your eyes or sneeze or something while playing. You can still get the sounds of the game through your ears even if you look away. The people around you as you play also get the full effect fo the audio of whatever it is you’re playing. So all in all, the audio matters a lot.
The game also knows how serious the audio is to their experience. In fact, as soon as you start the game, it mentions that they recommend that use headphones for the best experience. This is for a few reasons actually. The first probably doesn’t matter as much, but there is voice acting in the game. So if you’re playing this on PC and you’re using your standard speakers, you can likely hear the voices just fine. I wouldn’t worry too much about the voice-acting aspect. Although, I do commend them for getting some really good voice actors! They did a tremendous job. The other reason is, as you may have already guessed, the music.
The music in this game has the potential to get really annoying, very fast. Given the nature of the gameplay, which we’ll talk about shortly, you’re in the world of potentially hearing the same song over and again. However, the music in this game seems dynamic enough to know to just keep playing the song, versus starting over. So you can be frustrated at the game instead of the music! The music is very good of course, with its high tempo, EDM vibe. You definitely get a soundtrack to go along with the white-knuckle feeling of riding a sports bike at high speeds. Now, let it be known that if you dislike certain parts of the audio or how it’s mastered overall, you can adjust the levels in the options menu.
- Story. The story is the next best part of the game. I think that the story kicks off rather interestingly. The way the story is told is a bit disjointed though. It’s something like, there are some cutscenes, then some dialogue, then some cutscenes, then a fade, some quick gameplay, and some more cutscenes. It could definitely be implemented better. I’m guessing that this isn’t their first game with a narrative, so I feel like they should know better. But if you’re okay with some wonky story delivery, the story itself is great.
The story is compelling to the point of pulling you back in so that you can keep learning what happened. The game opens with what appears to be missed emails/letters from what you come to learn are the protagonist’s parents back home. The messages span over a couple of years it seems. You’re finally reading them and then you go back to where it was you came from. He starts to set out to get back to where he’s from. It seems that an evil large entity has cleaned the place out of any living beings. You apparently also risk the same fate as ending up wherever it is that his parents are now. You’re eventually put in contact with a robotic pet that you had from your youth. Apparently, it speaks in perfect English and has an axe to grind. It doesn’t want to end up dead though, so it assists you and puts you in the crosshairs of the villain and the mini-bosses.
- Gameplay. So as I mentioned in the beginning, the game tells you that you should wear headphones to get the best audio value. It also mentions that you should also use a controller. I don’t know too many people that don’t have a controller handy when playing Steam games. But I agree, I think that using a thumbstick over a WASD setup would be smarter considering the gameplay. By that I mean, the game is split up into different gameplay types, however you always appear to be on a sports bike. Using something like a D-Pad will not get you anywhere unless you’re a real glutton for punishment.
You’ll find that gliding back and forth to dodge items and obstacles is the name of the game. When you’re not doing endless runners via tunnels or roadways, you’re doing things like boss battles. Boss battles are a bit more like bullet hell games mixed with a grappling hook. They present you with different challenges and it’s up to you to figure out how to defeat the boss. There are pickups along the way to enhance your gameplay against the baddies as well. They typically are bound to hotkeys on the controller or keyboard. .
- Difficulty. I certainly don’t want to see anyone say “git gud” because this game seems to be heavily influenced by games that actually have difficulty options. This game chooses one difficulty and that’s it. I’m also going to blame the bike mechanics in this game, because they need to be tightened. I can’t turn on a dime and I need to be able to. So if a boss fight is endless and strung out and you’re never getting past them, you’re not crazy or alone. Same with the game’s endless runner style levels (they technically have an end). If the developers didn’t want to give us difficulty options, they can still have the game learn from you. Maybe after your 10th attempt it removes just one obstacle in the place you keep dying. Or in a boss fight the boss stays as damaged as it was when you died once you’ve played against them 10 times. Give us something because for $20, I don’t want an easy game, but I certainly don’t want a game that I’ll never beat.
Steam Deck Specifics:
Just stick with the default settings, unless you really know what you’re doing with the Steam Deck. All in all, the performance looked and sounded great. If you go into the settings of the game for instance, they’re already set to “Mega” for all of the options. I thought they were set on Medium by default. I went in to look at the settings and see if I could crank them up alongside the Steam Deck’s hardware settings. It turns out that I didn’t even need to bother! They weren’t on Medium as I thought, they’re on Mega and the game plays and looks great. The only times that I noticed any frame dropping was during some cutscenes early in the game. I noticed that the dropped frames resolved themselves after I power-cycled the Steam Deck.
This game is fun, I don’t want anyone to think otherwise. The problem is, that if you can’t get past the first level or the first boss, you’re going to feel like you wasted $20. I had really bad ADHD symptoms while I was reviewing this game. Anyone with ADHD knows that you have good days/weeks and you have bad ones, even if you’ve remembered to take your pills. I think that someone who really can give it their attention and could have a great time with this. For the rest of us, I just hope that Heart Core can go back and patch in a lower difficulty as well. I just want to experience the story more with only a little bit of challenge. As of now, I’m still stuck at the second level and not able to really review this as it deserves. This saddens me, but I think what everyone here should do if they’re still on the fence is check out the Steam demo on the purchase link below!