Gods Will Fall Review (PS4) – Gods Fall Flat
Generally I’m always up for a game about killing Gods. Gods are the worst. Demanding worship, creating terrible self-serving jealous commandments, impregnating young women, not answering prayers – it’s all take and no give! It’s bad enough when they don’t even exist, but in Gods Will Fall, the Gods are very real, and a very real pain in the ass. They’ve been terrorising the population, and it’s up to you to take your loosely Celtic warriors onto an island infested with them and eradicate them. Gods Will Fall, because you’re about the throw them crashing down from their gilded thrones.
Gods Will Fall is an action brawler that tries a few new things; instead of one protagonist, it gives you a group of randomly generated warriors and let’s you guide them around like Pikmin, offering them up to fight the Gods one by one, and instead of linearity, it presents all ten of its dungeons open from the very beginning, letting you tackle them in any order you wish. It has a few roguelike elements, such as if all your warriors fall its game over, and you need to start from the very beginning again. Can you take down all ten gods in one run?
Action-adventure games, even ones with a bit of roguelike in them, live and die on the strength of their systems and combat. So does Gods Will Fall have what it takes to stand alongside Hades in the pantheon of God-themed action indies, or is it doomed to fade to myth?
The story of Gods Will Fall is simple. A loosely Celtic world is ruled over by a series of Gods. The more worship and power the gods received, the more they wanted, and this only led to them becoming selfish, evil and corrupt, ultimately enslaving humanity. The Celts eventually rose up, thousands of them, to overthrow the gods, and set off in a great armada that would have put the thousand ships sent to Troy to shame, but the Gods saw their fleet and destroyed it at sea.
Your eight warriors are the only survivors, a ragtag clan of misfits, both men and women, washed up on the shore. You are the last hope to purge the land of the ten evil gods. As the title suggests, if you have anything to say about it, Gods Will Fall. It’s a clear and fun setup, and it’s about as far as the narrative ever really goes. The cutscene animation leaves a bit to be desired, consisting of stills moving in unconvincing ways depicting a storm and various God’s debauchery etc, but it serves its purpose.
Your eight warriors are simple sketches, randomly generated, and given random names, skills, and attributes within certain parameters. They are pretty devoid of personality, only really speaking to utter warcries, and commiserate the loss of a comrade. The graphics up close on these warriors are also not detailed, cartoonishly styled but generic, some large burly women, some gangly youths, all coming off looking like a gaggle of misfit trolls. They aren’t the most endearing or easy group to actually care about. That may be a good thing, as you’re likely to lose a few of them along the way.
You’ll start on the world map, with an angled top-down perspective. The world map allows you to navigate your ragtag bunch of warriors from dungeon to dungeon, giving you the option to tackle them in any order. The overworld is a nice idea and has the quirk of giving you control over all eight warriors at once as you manoeuvre them to the next dungeon. However they can be a little unwieldy to control, some getting stuck on scenery or distracted like stray sheep.
Unfortunately you get no indication of dungeon difficulty before you have to commit at least one of your warriors to brave the dungeon alone (why I’m not sure). They enter and the rest stay outside to wait. If your chosen warrior falls in battle, which can be swift if you’re not on the ball for a second, they are lost in that dungeon. That is until one of your other remaining warriors manages to beat the dungeon and its boss, thereby freeing them. This gives the game a roguelike style with just eight chances to win each dungeon. Lose all eight and it’s game over. Win one dungeon only to lose all eight on the next dungeon, it’s game over. You have to restart from the very beginning. And there are ten bosses and dungeons to complete in one run. Getting nine bosses in only to lose your warriors on the final area is a frustrating time sink.
There is also the possibility, albeit rare, that a warrior can be struck down by a Deadly Attack, and they are then not only lost but dead, and cannot be reclaimed. You’ve just randomly lost one of your attempts. It’s a system of eight second-chances per dungeon, but ultimately if all eight fall it’s permadeath; one of the elements taken from the roguelike genre, along with runs, and the random generation of warriors.
Once you have beaten a dungeon and its boss, your warrior emerges, to praise and glory from her fellows, and a slew of buffs, increased stats and skills across all eight to hopefully make the next dungeon more manageable. You can also get hit with random handicaps like reduced vigour (health), or random skills like the ‘Bathed in Blood’ skill which doubles the rate of bloodlust gain, which I’ll explain in a moment, making them into miniature tanks. In fact, I would recommend re-rolling your starting clan until you have at least one with this skill because it makes such a difference.
So what about inside the dungeons. Well, although there are some other roguelike elements, the dungeons are not procedurally generated. Most are designed and laid out the same each time you enter, but there are a couple where the links between rooms, or the layout of doors linking to other rooms, are randomly generated. Some of the levels are quite pretty, ranging from bone strewn beaches, to red-themed temples and dense forests.
Combat is important in this type of game and needs to be fun and engaging. Gods Will Fall’s combat works, but it’s simplistic and fraught with fickle hitboxes, and a confusingly implemented parry. In short there are issues.
You are given a few different weapon types and each handle differently. Spears give you more range, while twin axes can move fast and cause damage. There’s also maces and swords. You can perform a quick weak attack and a slower strong attack, and there’s little in the way of comboing apart from just stringing two or three clicks of weak attacks together. You can jump and you can roll dodge, but the trouble with roll dodge, is that it also serves as the means to parry. In order to pull off a parry, you must roll into the enemy at the right moment, but that moment is pretty hard to get right and the requirement to roll into the enemy puts you much more into danger than you had been had you rolled backwards instead. With some power behind the moves, and some good hit detection this could have been a little better, but don’t go in expecting this to be a souls-like combat system.
The ability to pick up weapons dropped by enemies, and then throw them at your next foe as you approach is great, but again can be frustrating when it doesn’t register. Enemies can be stumbled, but can also wail on you excessively fast, and ignore your attempts to parry with a roll. You can lose a warrior in a single hit, or in a quick flurry quite easily. And then it’s back to the start of the dungeon for you, and one less attempt.
All that may sound overly negative, but there are some good quirks to combat. With a fast spear or sword, it can be pretty easy to get into a satisfying and simple rhythm – pick up a broken blade, chuck it at the next enemy, and then long-range thrust, this kills most enemies straight away. As you get hit you’ll lose health, but as you hit enemies you build the bloodlust gauge overlaying your vigour, which lets you perform a warcry to replenish health and give you increased attack power. Although it wears off between enemies, or after a few seconds, it’s very useful against bosses, allowing you to hit harder and quicker, and regain your health at the same time. Bloodlust acts a lot like the Rally system in Bloodborne. With the added Bathed in Blood skill doubling the rate of bloodlust gain, bosses can devolve into button spamming alternating between flurries of hits, then a warcry to regain your health, repeated until they fall.
There is also a nice effect in that the enemies you kill in the dungeon leading to the boss actually contribute to work away at the health of the boss, possibly reducing it by as much as a quarter. There’s not much chance of doing more, as there are a finite number of enemies, but it encourages you not to just rush through and challenge the boss.
Enemies in Gods Will Fall are all very generic, very average designs. They won’t inspire any fear and are mostly treated as fodder on the way to the boss. This made me think the bosses would be epic in comparison (and as the title suggests), but the ten Gods are not created with an interesting design aesthetic and are pretty simple to spam-kill. They aren’t from any existing pantheon, and have at least been invented which is commendable, but they consist of very forgettable designs; a large bone spider, a sea ghost, a large crow, or a lurching giant taking a bath. None of the designs really tell me they are Gods rather than just big versions of basic monster types. There’s no real attempt to explain them or their powers, the lore around them, or to make the bouts interesting or dynamic. They don’t speak to you beyond some grunts, same as your own warriors. Considering it’s called Gods Will Fall, it felt more like Gods Will Fall Flat.
Gods Will Fall never really rises to its own promise. Its title is technically true, you will take down some large bosses, but that’s true of almost any game, and many do it far more convincingly than this. Its world is derivative and offers very little in the way of new things to see. Only the group of warriors mechanic, and the tackle-in-any order framework are unique and both fail to inspire, the latter often meaning you go vastly underlevelled into difficult dungeons and get penalised.
Combat is too simplistic, but at the same time that’s quite a relief. I would have enjoyed it less had it been harder because the payoff of learning a difficult combat system demands thrilling bosses or vistas, or something as a reward. Gods Will Fall has none of this to look forward to, but least you can see most of the game without too much trouble. It has a pretty unworkable parry and dodge system committed to the wrong control scheme, but there’s fun to be had with its bloodlust mechanic for a few hours.
Gods Will Fall should have been so much more fun. An average action-adventure with a few roguelike elements, it’s combat is both fiddly and too simplistic to engage. Its Gods fail to inspire, and its world lacks tangible reward, while hurting the player with its high-stakes warrior loss mechanic.
Gods Will Fall is available now on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 (review platform), Xbox One, Google Stadia, Xbox Series X and S, and Steam.
Developer: Clever Beans
Publisher: Deep Silver / Koch Media
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.
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