Quitting your job and telling your boss to ‘shove it’ is one of the few pleasures of working. There’s just something about proving your determination to overcome their bullshit that gets the dopamine (and beers) flowing. Boss rush games are the encapsulation of this experience with Godstrike, via a nice infusion of bullet hell gameplay and twin-stick shooting, being no exception. Going all-in on the ‘rush’ part, Godstrike’s brevity is counterbalanced wonderfully by its intensity, at the cost of being a little rough around the edges.
Godstrike evokes a story of breaking chains. A singular entity has absorbed the masks of their powerful kin, attempting to monopolise the role of these beings known as The Heralds. Upon finding a long-forgotten mask, you are thrust into defeating this all-powerful Herald and their subordinates. This world of lore is stacked on you at the beginning of story mode, eluding to a wider, and perhaps, greater narrative that’s never touched on again. After this opening, the plot falls into abstraction through preamble texts before each boss. I appreciate the contemplativeness these texts strive for but they do little to contribute to the motivations of the fights. There’s nothing which characterises you or your opponents, they are more or less monologues on the state of things and eventually the plot seemingly runs alongside whichever boss you’re fighting rather than supporting them.
The Cronulla Sharks won the first-ever three-way NRL game, played at the alien Parthenon
Time is of the essence in Godstrike. Not only does it place a strict, fleeting limit on the battle but the short four-to-five-minute timer also acts as your health bar, draining slowly with the passage of time. Even further, each ability you bring to the punch-on comes at a cost of time as well as maximum health, creating a conflicting feeling between risk and reward. It’s a nuanced approach in giving the player control over their difficulty; the cost of overall time (and health) in relation to power is an interesting dynamic. Finding a comfortable build that balances offensive and defensive capabilities while keeping in mind the cost of life incentivises experimentation with your abilities to find a perfect harmony of costs and gains.
Ultimately though, boss rush games live or die by their bosses and the breadth of mechanics they present throughout. Godstrike has an unfortunately dull barrier of entry, with bosses naturally starting out as unsurprising but with each successive fight grow bolder and better. There’s this nice foundation of bullet hell dodging that requires twitchy movement, creating an astounding level of intensity in fights. This is further built upon by slightly warping the mechanics between each phase then mixing them together during the final run on their health. Keeping track of your little Goddess and finding space to retaliate is definitely a unique skill to be learnt in Godstrike. It feels good to see this improvement and then succeed at the height of the chaos, however it sometimes slips into frustrating territory. Bar your short timer, a lot of the difficulty comes from the ever-increasing and dangerous movesets. Later bosses produce an all too familiar sense of feeling impossible, but this is quite addicting to overcome.
Eren Yeager, is that you?
There’s this nice roguelike lens that Godstrike’s content is presented through, in a sense that all of the bosses, abilities and overall objective remain the same but are rearranged between four different modes. Outside of the story mode, the daily challenge is positively brutal in the way it strips you of everything and gives you one attempt at a boss, whereas challenge mode gives you specific abilities to climb the ladder with. Most of the fun I had came from the arcade mode, as freely selecting bosses and abilities felt like the truest form of the game. Although this revisiting of the same content is novel for a couple of runs, endlessly grinding for leaderboard positions has just never been for me. Though I am curious to see some outrageously quick kills on these bosses once the game is live, especially the worm boss Mobus – fuck that dude.
There are a couple of minor issues that stood out to me. Music for instance is also an oddly absent presence. It’s obviously there but seldom caught my ear as something that enhanced the bosses, whether that be subtly characterising them or adding a dramatic flair of tension. It’s surprising, at the very least, given the constant pedal to the metal pace these fights are set at. Also the fact there’s no I-frames after being hit adds this layer of unforgiving difficulty. It’s never so overbearing that you’ll be taken from 100-to-0 instantly, but getting smacked constantly from random bullets will weigh on your sanity as it did mine.
I swear this is a WoW raid boss
Godstrike fulfils that baseline need all boss rush games do – the thrill of overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds. Its primary mechanical hook of entwining health and battle time into powerful abilities creates fantastic, tense battles. However it’s the smaller things that hold the experience back. A distinct lack of characterising flair for the bosses through story or music hurt their memorability, and the unrelenting difficulty amongst the chaos, while exhilarating to overcome, is still (at times) overbearing. Regardless of its rough edges though, Godstrike is enjoyable as a quick hit of intense action.
Reviewed on PC // Review code supplied by publisher
- OverPowered Team
- Freedom Games
- Nintendo Switch / PC
- April 16, 2021