Counterplay Games’ looter slasher sport reaches beyond its grasp
Godfall has lofty ambitions. Although it’s developed by the extraordinarily small studio at Counterplay Games, it wishes to entice you with the type of visible spectacle big-budget video video games excel at delivering. It additionally desires to be a tight, melee-combat motion game, a reprieve from the endless tedium of open-world fetch quests. It additionally wants you to play it for dozens of hours searching for the best piece of loot. I can see all the things Godfall wants to do, and at times, these desires complement every other. But they clash lots more often, main to a cluttered mess that traces below the strain to turn all its disparate ambitions into some thing greater.
Godfall’s setup is as grandiose as you can get, with nods to religious introduction stories like Paradise Lost. After helping rid the world of gods known as Archons who perpetuated endless wars to settle their petty conflicts, your player character, Orin, is betrayed by means of their brother, Macros, who plunges Orin into the ocean and leaves them for dead. Orin quickly preferences themselves back up with the assist of a sentient library known as the Seventh Sanctum, hellbent on taking revenge on Macros and stopping him from performing the Rites of Ascension that would increase him to godhood.
That high-concept premise lets Counterplay Games go wild on the artwork direction, leading to a recreation that loves to show off how correct its tech is. Orin’s magical Valorplate armors (which affect whether or not Orin affords as female or masculine) are full of shiny overlapping plates, sharp angles, and bright linings intended to capture your eye. If you stop admiring your character, it’s hard no longer to seem to be around and admire the fantastical forests, ornate temples, and colourful landscapes in Godfall as well. You’re rewarded for searching around, too, given that an limitless horde of collectible resources, items, and chests are littered everywhere, with some chests asking that you seem to be around further for close by symbols to wreck before you can open them. At every turn, Godfall uses its wonderful tech to flex just how powerful the hardware it’s walking on is, which makes feel for a PlayStation 5 launch title. (I played it on a mid-range PC and nevertheless got a kick out of how exact the entirety looks).
You additionally see that form of costly splendor at work as you begin hacking away at the rats and soldiers you have to mow down on your way to Macros. Your attacks land with the weighty, satisfying thunderclap of colliding metal, and your movements look each tightly choreographed and fluid. Doing nicely feels exact because of all the cool animations that play out, and getting hit feels bad, due to the fact of how enemy attacks will stagger you and gradual you down. Leading your attacks, dodging the telegraphed swing of a warhammer, and parrying predictable strikes with your defend all seem to be cool, and you even have some interesting tactical selections to make in combat; your slower heavy assaults aren’t an alternative to your faster strikes so plenty as a way to money in on the bonus injury that your quicker attacks build up, with the danger being that you would possibly get hit.
For the first few hours, this bright coat of polish does a exceptional job of hiding how Godfall’s fight is full of holes. Attack levels experience off; I misplaced track of how many instances I tried to circumvent out of the way of an opponent’s massive swing and acquired hit anyway (my bad), only to right now recover as if I hadn’t gotten hit, letting me hit my opponent’s susceptible point as if I’d accurate dodged. It helped me out, but it broke the illusion of the game’s “feel.” There’s additionally just enough of a prolong between moves like attacking and using a recovery item that I’d take damage, roll away, hit the restoration button, and watch as nothing took place — I had to wait just a moment longer earlier than urgent another button. The window is miniscule, but in a sport that’s otherwise exceptionally responsive to your inputs, it’s excruciating. There’s little sense of moves flowing into every different logically, even if the animations at the back of them appear astonishing and nimble.
These sorts of problems select away at the trust you want to have with a suitable action game; in order for special enemies and bosses to subvert your expectations and check your perception of combat, you have to have faith that the regulations are consistent. Once Godfall lost my trust, it never came back. So when I’d get pelted by means of a barrage of lasers that regarded unavoidable at first—a feeling I get a lot in motion games—instead of trying to analyze the “right way” to counter it, I began searching for methods to dodge it, because I didn’t have confidence the combat to be fair. During a double boss fight, I lured one enemy away from the boss arena, picked him off by myself and then beat up his friend. I solely resorted to the tactic due to the fact I didn’t believe the fight to be truthful otherwise.
Godfall tries to supplant depth with a veneer of complexity, introducing extra fight picks over the path of the game that end up making fights a mess of skills and effects. You have two specific Weapon Techniques that are type of like tremendous attacks; your guard has multiple maneuvers that all share a single cooldown; there’s a weak factor system that lets you target unique areas on enemies; each equippable Valorplate comes witha different Archon’s Fury, a powered-up kingdom that makes you invincible for a brief while, which may also as nicely be another super. There are banners, polarity attacks, breaches… you get it. Once I bought most of these picks down, combat (especially boss fights) became greater about draining as many meters and unleashing as many strikes as I may want to instead of playing the tactical task of predicting my opponents’ moves. It’s extra wonderful to play that way, but also plenty much less interesting.
And that’s all earlier than you appear at the equipment screen. Godfall is littered with stats, popularity effects, buffs, augments, and other percentages that outline a lot of what’s going on whilst you’re fighting. Having a cohesive “build” will, again, make you a extra effective Godfall player, but poring over a sea of numbers and jargon here isn’t fun; you have to memorize so many blessings, ailments, buffs, and other tiny numbers in order to get the most out of your items. It’s too much, and this is coming from anybody who’s invested close to 4000 hours in discovering weird new persona builds in Dota 2 and over a thousand hours in figuring out the fastest ways to power-level in Destiny 2 I love min-maxing in games like this, however I get a little tired at the thinking of comparing a 12% buff to Earth harm with a 13% bonus to susceptible point damage. Yes, these numbers do add up, and my endgame build had me gaining returned so a great deal fitness with my twin blades per hit that dodging didn’t experience almost as crucial. But, again: my play was once greater effective, but less interesting.
Then, about three-fourths into my playthrough, I observed a legendary warhammer with an unbelievably powerful perk. Whenever I used a Weapon Technique, it created an good sized bubble that slowed any enemy within it to a crawl. It didn’t rely on a trigger, ailment, debuff, a percentage, or anything. When it dropped, I examine the description in bewilderment. Was this component for real? It was so out of line with anything else the relaxation of the game had given me that I doubted it’d be useful. But it was. It made tough encounters a breeze. It destroyed bosses. The relaxation of the sport went by using in a flash. It was the most exciting I’d had with Godfall, and I held on to that warhammer even after it used to be one of the weakest pieces of loot I had, simply because of that one perk. I wish I’d observed extra objects like it, because it was once a welcome trade of pace.
Also around that time, the story commenced coming into focus, and whilst it’s pretty self-serious, it has some neat concepts underpinning it. You just have to examine to find them. Hidden among all the stats, upgrades, and armors are a few brief lore entries. The lore tab is one of the few places Godfall doesn’t take the maximalist strategy and advantages from it. Entries encompass Orin and Macros’ recollections of their lives before the start of the game, as nicely as a few others that establish the large world of Godfall. They offer a tremendously sturdy narrative pillar that, unfortunately, solely spotlights how trite the cutscenes are.
The lore entries current Orin’s ride in the recreation no longer as an thrilling revenge tale, however as the simmering, disappointing end to a bitter hostilities years in the making. The writing wavers between poignant (“He would say that every time one of his troopers saluted him, he would count on their passing,”) to eye-rolling (“Silvermane used to be quickly and sturdy and nearly invulnerable. Nearly impervious is not invulnerable, though”). It’s nevertheless really worth taking in; I examine about ideas turning into corrupted and ignoble after being given bodies; a goddess whose crystalized blood fuels an whole planet’s economic system but in general its struggle machine. There are high-quality threads to pull on here, but Godfall doesn’t desire you to linger on any of them for too long, as all of these textual content entries are remarkably short.
Now that I’ve finished the campaign, Godfall wants me to take on greater Dreamstones, a series of encounters that spruce up older challenges and bosses before throwing new ones at me. It desires me to climb The Ascendant Tower of Trials, in which I’ll face an limitless quantity of challenges until I fail, with the hope that I’ll locate another piece of loot as true as that warhammer again. It desires me to address more difficult missions by means of inviting a few buddies to be a part of me, even although I performed through the game on my very own because there’s no online matchmaking to group up with randoms. It wishes me to scour its amazing worlds for extra of these collectibles, which respawn advert infinitum, so I can feed them lower back into my loot.
The cease of Godfall promises the identical loop of a lot of bigger, longer games. I’ve finished that with a few video games this year. It can be a fun loop. But as luxurious as this sport appears and as lofty as its ambitious might be, Godfall just didn’t control to put its very own attractive model of that loop together.