Killing a God is typically reserved for trite anime…and by that I mean all the anime, every single one. Video games do have a similar relationship though, given that slaying all-powerful beings lends itself to iconic boss fights. Gods Will Fall, developed by Clever Beans, sets its focus around just that – building to big showdowns with malevolent gods. These grandiose fights however only uphold their stature in appearance rather than in their challenge, as the lack of supportive elements in gameplay causes the project to stumble.
Gods Will Fall is very light with its overall story. An introductory cutscene portrays the Gods as ruling over humanity by way of cruelty and suffering. After living under their terrible reign for so long, a clan of would-be heroes ventures forth in an attempt to wrestle control into their hands by slaying the Gods. This isometric, action-adventure has you controlling both the clan and its individuals to earn your freedom.
Time to tango with the…old-man-butterfly-gorilla-god thing
It’s mostly a set dressing story, to be honest, the gods exist, you’re told they’re horrible and then you kill them. Not that it’s an inherently bad thing to have a simple story, there just isn’t much that gives it some depth befitting the act of deicide. There are small nodes of lore scattered about but they’re almost too vague and don’t reveal a whole lot about what they might refer to. On a whole the story doesn’t do much to drive you to want to free your clan. What it does do though, is provide strong bonds to your clan through a unique characterisation system.
The randomly generated histories and stories that are applied to members of your clan are the highlights in regards to the emergent storytelling that it brings. For example, when my greatest swordsman was bested in battle and captured, it was left up to my goober hammer lady Kylie to save the day, who happened to have a history with the mad-God I had just failed against.
When she cracked the God’s skull with her mighty hammer, she became stronger for overcoming her fear and went on to be one of my best characters…only to be perma-killed later by my own incompetence. Before walking off a cliff onto some jagged rocks, her triumph was recorded as a story I could read that detailed who she saved, as well as her other significant moments. This system is a really thoughtful way of fleshing out heroes in the clan. Not only that but it also pushes alternative characters to be used as opposed to relying on one decked-out hero over and over.
You were the best of us Kylie
Gameplay is focused on battling the gods with your clan, and developing the heroes that emerge from victory. Each person has their own weapon and skills that stem from the aforementioned generated histories that make them all unique, even on new playthroughs. But while building up the clan is enjoyable in the payoff of basking in the blood of the divine, it’s the journey that is one of the largest problems you’ll encounter from Gods Will Fall.
To its detriment there isn’t much of a skill or difficulty ceiling, with most combat situations being able to be conquered through light-attack spam, particularly once you’ve acquired a four-star weapon. In conjunction with the bloodlust mechanic that heals and buffs you, you’re never at risk of really dying either. Different enemy types with unique move sets do keep you on your toes but unfortunately there still isn’t much need for thought in combat. This is also applied to the bosses, whose visual designs are immediately compelling (like the Dragonkin in a bath carried by his thralls), but feels disappointingly weak you slice through them like a hot blade through liquid butter.
Traversing a God’s dungeon is a sometimes intriguing but often, dull affair. A lot of the visuals evoke a great sense of character within each location that’s further reflected in the enemy types. There’s a strong level of cohesion with each place wildly differing from the next. However outside of consumable pickups, randomly placed tutorials and insignificant lore nodes there isn’t much in the way of rewarding one’s exploration.
You can’t handle the spear
This could just be me, but it feels like there’s an absence of items. I would frequently follow divergent paths and find nothing. This isn’t to say every game needs constant drops to be fun. Rather, because most of these maps are quite sprawling, in a relatively detailed manner, the sense of discovery a player has isn’t rewarded well enough to be considered. It’s technically more rewarding to B-line to the boss because that’s where all weapon drops are, which feels wrong because the dungeons do have rather nice and unique designs.
Gods Will Fall’s simple aesthetic is somewhat charming if a little dated looking. Some of the vistas sneak up on you in their beauty and framing. It obviously pales in comparison to many larger games but there isn’t anything intrusive, or offensive about the visual style. It’s serviceable, and that’s all it needs to be. On the business side of things though, some of these bosses are, unfortunately, locked behind the Valiant Edition paywall. An unideal situation, seeing as battling with Gods is the core of the game and sectioning them off like that seems like such an unnecessary step to take against potential fans.
Where’s Leroy when you need him?
God’s Will Fall is very much a game that is almost there. It has the right elements – impressive dungeons, imaginative bosses and a unique storytelling system to supplement the adventure. Ultimately though it’s the more granular aspects within those elements that hinders the enjoyment, there’s not enough incentive to explore, bosses come and go quickly and the overarching story is paper-thin. There’s a lot here to like, genuinely, but it’s hard recommending a game that falls and fades so quickly.
Reviewed on Xbox Series X // Review code supplied by publisher
- Clever Beans
- Deep Silver
- PS5 / PS4 / Xbox Series X&S / Xbox One / Nintendo Switch / PC / Google Stadia
- January 29, 2021