Are you feeling a bit tired of all the big games this year or all the online service games that seemingly never end? Looking for something weird, fun, and only about an hour long? Well, then stop reading this (Editor’s note: Don’t do that.) and go play the recently released Chop Goblins, one of the year’s coolest little gems on Steam.
Launched last week, Chop Goblins is a fast-paced and simple shooter with retro-inspired visuals and kick-ass music. It’s the latest game from David Szymanski, the solo creator behind the also-awesome and equally retro-inspired shooter Dusk. But unlike Dusk— which was a big game with all kinds of guns, levels, and ways to move around the world—Chop Goblins is a smaller and more focused treat, featuring only a few weapons, five levels, and no way to jump or crouch. If that makes it sound like the game is a bit simple, well, it is, but in a good way, like how a great restaurant might only have six things on its menu but it nails them all perfectly.
Like many classic shooters, Chop Goblins has more of a setup for carnage than a proper story. Your main character finds an old box inside a museum, opens it, and lets loose the titular, cheese-obsessed Chop Goblins. What are they? They are goblins that like to chop. Some of them like to dress up like old ladies and others get really big and throw meat cleavers at you. Oh, and they got hold of a time manipulation tablet and are going to take over the world and all of time unless you can stop them using a knife, a flintlock pistol, and a magic wand from Greece. Folks, it’s a weird one, okay?
Chop Goblins might be weird, but it’s also a very well-made shooter, featuring tight controls, precise gunplay, and satisfying combat. Enemies pop and explode as they should when killed and boxes are fun to break, making it hard to not just run around every level looking for secrets by smashing everything in sight. It’s the kind of game that just feels good to play. Just running around and exploring is a blast. Plenty of games could learn a thing or two from Chop Goblins!
This tiny shooter also has style oozing out of its chopping pores. (Editor’s note: What…?) It features a VHS-like filter over the action that gives everything this slightly old and creepy vibe, like you’re watching a tape someone found under some old boxes at that closed-up video store a few blocks down the street. It also sports some very good music. My wife was in the room listening to me play the game, and commented that “This game has some fucking great music.” And she’s right. Don’t really have anything else to add beyond that. Glad I married her.
Really, the only problem I have with Chop Goblins is that by the end of the game I wanted more Chop Goblins. But that’s a great problem to have. I’d rather finish your game wishing there were a few more levels than finish your game relieved it was finally over. Sure, some may ask: Is a game that only takes about an hour to finish worth $5? I can’t answer that for you. But I can say that after I beat Chop Goblins I fired it up and played through the first two levels all over again. And in the process, found a secret I’d missed. And I expect I’ll revisit this game when I want to just chill and not get bogged down in some new 300-hour epic RPG or whatever. And to me, that’s worth $5, easily.