Gods Will Fall is a new Rogue-like title with some interesting ideas. The titular gods have started to get greedy, asking for more and more sacrifices and man has had enough. An army sails towards the island that the gods inhabit but the majority don’t make it, the gods destroying their ships as they approach. Eight survivors wash ashore and these are your characters.
Each run starts randomly, so you’ll have eight different people at your disposal with different shapes, stats, skills and weapons. No only that but each will have a story, by having a relationship with another character because they are lovers or perhaps one pulled the other to shore upon arrival. Or maybe by having a connection to one of the gods. This can work in their favour or against them, as visions of their death can scare characters and drop their stats whilst another’s hatred for a certain god can embolden them and give them a boost.
This is an interesting mechanic and comes into play when choosing which god to tackle first. Like a Mega Man title each boss is available from the off and so it’s up to you where you start. Unlike a Mega Man game however the bosses are also randomised. Not which ones are where or how they behave but their difficulty. Also unlike Mega Man you don’t just choose from a grid who to attack first, you have to run across the entire island to get to their domain. You have a map which shows you where the entrances are but it does make the initial choice a little weighted when I’ve always attempted the nearest bosses first rather than run the length of the island.
When you approach an entrance you’ll have to choose a character from your eight to take into the dungeon. At the start there will either be one stand out character because they’ll have a slightly better weapon than any one else or a useful skill or there’ll be little to choose between them. Whoever you choose will then have to defeat the dungeon or, if they fail, will have to be rescued by someone else. They can also die permanently if hit with a specific red attack but this is rare.
The problem is, as I stated, you don’t know how tough a boss is going to be. As you enter a level you’ll generally see the boss’ health bar in the top right and this is a good indication of how strong they will be, with some having one bar and others two. There is an entire level to get through before the boss however and this will also be a good indicator, as tougher bosses will have more enemies and tougher variants which weaker characters will struggle to tackle. The level layout is always the same however.
Once you’ve entered a level you can’t leave, you have to make an attempt or simply abandon that character and come back later once you’ve hopefully gained some better weapons. Then again the next level you choose might also be a tough one, so you’ll lose another character, and another. Most rogue-like games start with similar progression each time, with a build up in difficulty or they’ll give you the option to skip ahead if you’re confident in your abilities. Even if you’re good at Gods Will Fall the levels can take ten minutes to get through if you’re killing everything so having no idea whether you’re entering a tougher level or not is a real problem, especially when you first start playing.
Once you’re in the level you’ll be going through environments fighting things. There is the odd platforming element but primarily you’re just fighting the god’s minions. You’re incentivised to kill them rather than run past as the bosses health depletes with each minion you kill. The combat is one of the stronger elements of the game, which is lucky as it’s the main component. You have a light attack, strong attack and a dodge. Different weapons have different speeds and strengths but that’s not what makes the combat good, this isn’t as in depth as a Devil May Cry for instance.
What makes it interesting is the parry mechanic and Boodlust. You parry enemies by dodging into them as they attack (denoted by a flash), if you connect correctly then you will stun them which will make them take more damage or you can dodge into them again and grab and throw them, ideally to their death. What’s more interesting though is if you’ve lost some health then you can gain it back with Bloodlust.
The empty portion of your health bar will refill with each hit you make contact with, the more Bloodlust you build up the quicker it will then build. You can then do a Roar which will replenish all that health that you’ve accrued through Bloodlust. Parrying an enemy generates far more Bloodlust however so you end up in this risk reward scenario of going for the risky parry in order to refill your health as killing an enemy will be good enough for one pip of health if you’re lucky.
This also works on bosses so if you’re good enough at timing your parries then if you take a hit it doesn’t really matter as you can get that health back, plus you get a little boost for a short period after performing a roar, the bigger the roar the better. There are also skills that take advantage of having roar stored up as well as things like being low health or not getting hit.
It can lead to frustration however. It reminded me of Guitar Hero in a way, as you’ll be parrying without too much problem and suddenly you’ll miss one and your rhythm will be thrown off, like missing a note in the old plastic instrument games. The thing is your health barely reaches double figures in this game and enemies can sometimes take multiple pips off you with each attack so you can take a hit, try to parry to get that back, fail once, fail twice, then die to a basic enemy who you’ve parried a million times before.
All ten bosses are unique with some having environmental hazards, some having a gimmick and others just being a straight fight to the death. They aren’t too complicated but each feels very different and in going for trophies there are some interesting ways to defeat them as well as just slapping them about.
If you do manage to defeat them then you have a chance of being rewarded. I say have a chance because the game can be very stingy. You’ll gain items which you can take into the dungeons with you to use, you can gain more powerful variants of the basic weapons and characters, both the one you used and those waiting outside, can gain buffs to health and strength. Often however the character you completed the battle with will come out with lower stats, at least temporarily, you won’t get any items and the weapons you get will be worse than the ones you already have. There’s an item you get as a reward for beating a boss, supposedly, which I haven’t seen in all my time playing blocking me from the final trophy. You’d think you should be guaranteed a good thing after success but at times you can defeat a boss and get next to nothing for it. Really nasty RNG.
If you fail then you can attempt a rescue with another character. Succeed and it’ll be like they were never away, they may come back licking their wounds or intent on showing their worth but you’ll have a full squad again. Fail with all eight characters however and that’s it, game over, start all over again. The game autosaves so, without backing up saves at the system level, you can’t safeguard your run so a bad choice of level or the odd mistake can be incredibly costly. Especially with the amount of time it takes to get through.
The camera doesn’t really help with these mistakes at times. The camera is fixed and yet often the game has you run towards it, down to the bottom of the screen which can mask pitfalls and enemies alike. Parts of the environment can also hide enemies and their attacks which can irritate. Although the game wants you to defeat enemies to weaken the boss on my second run onwards I chose to run to the boss as fast as possible, as the difference killing all the enemies did to the boss’ health bar was not worth the huge time investment. This did result in me falling to my death quite often though thanks to the camera. It’s like running back to a boss in a Dark Souls game, but I got frustrated and resorted to it far quicker here unfortunately.
I’ve also had issues with being stuck on terrain which required me to abandon that character and I find some of the hit boxes to be questionable, with me missing attacks that should hit and enemies hitting from odd looking distances. The narrator can also be annoying. Not the voice or what they’re saying but it generally stops play to tell you something which slows things down way too much, especially on subsequent playthroughs.
Which is an odd thing, I opened the review by calling Gods Will Fall a Rouge-like and yet there isn’t a whole lot of replay value. Once you’ve beaten it if you play it again you’ll have to do the part where you have to randomly select which level to enter first, probably fail, attempt another one and so on and yet nothing really changes between playthroughs to incentivise it. Apart from playing for trophies I don’t really see a reason to challenge it more than once as you beat the ten bosses, you get a slight story bit at the end and the game ends. Do it again and you’ll probably do it in a slightly different order and your characters will have different names but those will be the only differences.
It’s an odd one as at times I’ve enjoyed myself. The bosses are generally fun, especially once I started booking it through the levels themselves, but the levels are repetitive and tedious and the punishment for death far outweighs the rewards you get for success. The character stories interacting with their stats and the individual bosses is a great idea too but unlike Dead Cells or Slay the Spire I can’t see myself coming back to Gods Will Fall for another run any time soon.
+ Boss battles are varied
+ Character stories are a good idea
- Punishment for failure is extreme
- Levels are tedious to run through over and over