Chop Goblins (PC) - ReviewPaul Broussard , posted on 17 December 2022 / 1,826 Views
I’ve found that, as I get older, I’ve started to increasingly regard games having dozens of hours of content as a warning sign rather than a selling point to be excited over. Very rarely does it seem like titles that boast about the size of their worlds and length of their campaigns actually manage to fill all that playtime with interesting and engaging stuff to do. And good luck replaying them; you might have the interest to replay one of the ten billion seemingly identical Ubisoft sandboxes for a bit, but try keeping that enthusiasm going for 50+ hours jogging back and forth over the 25 square kilometers between objective points. While the idea of wanting shorter games with less stuff in them seems counterintuitive at first, it often means that the moment-to-moment gameplay is more engaging, there’s less repetition, and I can actually enjoy the entire experience without having to ignore all my friends and social responsibilities for the next two months.
It’s with that in mind that I was actually looking forward to Chop Goblins a lot. It's a whimsical, very short first-person shooter brought to us by David Szymanski, the creator of Iron Lung and A Wolf in Autumn, and if you’re familiar with either of those titles then a whimsical first-person shooter is probably the last thing you’d expect from Szymanski. But nevertheless, Chop Goblins is quite a bit of fun, and while it certainly doesn’t last long, it’s a good time while it does.
The story of Chop Goblins is, uh… there to make the gameplay exist. The game establishes in a text introduction that you've visited a museum and accidentally unleashed some goblins (that’s the Goblins part of the title), who wield knives (that’s the Chop bit). You jump from one increasingly random stage to the next in order to foil the rampaging goblins; first the aforementioned museum, then a downtown apartment complex, then Dracula’s Castle, then Ancient Greece, and finally a futuristic hellscape. There is almost no exposition for how we get from one location to the next beyond random portals being inserted in various places at convenient points.
But trying to critique the story of Chop Goblins would miss the point. The point is to give the player a fun hour where they shoot goblins in a series of increasingly bizarre locations, story cohesion (and indeed logic itself) be damned. On that front, it succeeds - Chop Goblins is really fun. There's a decent variety of guns, between a 1700s pistol, an automatic shotgun, a machine gun, and a Harry Potter-esque wand that serves as a nuke with very limited ammunition. For five levels, it works pretty well, and the fact that all weapons are available during replays gives you reason to go back and try previous stages after beating the game.
The inclusion of a score system with a surprising amount of complexity that allows for point maximization by employing various kill strategies adds a lot of replay value as well.
Movement feels like it should in a PC shooter: quick, snappy, and responsive. Some of the hitboxes do feel a bit dodgy at times (at one point I shot an explosive barrel several times over only for nothing to happen, as if it was feeling too lazy to combust), but beyond that navigating the stage and fighting enemies is genuinely solid. Budget titles often don’t get this right, so it’s good to see that the effort has been put in here to make the limited time we have with Chop Goblins feel good.
Enemy variety is also good for a game that's only intent on taking up about an hour of your time. There are standard grunt enemies that charge you, distance enemies that throw knives instead of trying to chop you with them, goblins dressed up as old ladies that deal damage by shouting out how disappointed they are with you, and some dogs (which are the worst, because dogs are always the worst enemy to fight in any game). A few more enemy types come in later, which I won’t spoil, but suffice to say they’re all pretty fun to fight.
The presentation is strong too. The music is surprisingly catchy across the five stages, with the Greek stage theme being a particular highlight for me. The art style is simple, and deliberately low key, but very charming. I'm sure some people will look at the low-poly textures and immediately blow Chop Goblins off, but I think you'd be doing yourself a disservice; the game really does look endearing. The little noises the goblins make while fighting you, yelling about how it’s “nice to meet you”, or asking questions about where you store your cheese, are all very endearing. It’s a nice little touch that just makes the game fun.
I would argue that’s something we need more of in this industry - games that are designed first and foremost not with the intention of having the biggest world ever, or the most content available, but with taking the gameplay and just making it as fun as possible for as long as it should be. Chop Goblins shouldn’t be dismissed just because it looks cutesy and has a short run time; it’s genuinely fun, endearing, and, for $5, an absolute bargain for one of the most charming and enjoyable hours of the year.
You'll probably enjoy Chop Goblins if: You're looking for a shorter, action-packed title that's a bucket of nonsensical fun.
You might enjoy Chop Goblins if: You're a fan of more traditional first person shooters. Ones usually with fewer goblins inquiring about the location of cheese.
Don't bother with Chop Goblins if: You dislike shooters, or don't want to sink any time into a game that you won't be involved with for a while.
This review is based on a digital copy of Chop Goblins for the PC
I don't recall hearing anything about this game before but it looks like a lot of fun. I'll definitely have to check it out.