Godfall Review: pretty but paper thin

Godfall is, according to the ad copy, a “first-of-its-kind, looter-slasher, melee action-RPG”. Mix that in with some beautiful introduction videos and it seems like an amazing game that will keep you enthralled and on the edge of your seat.

It doesn’t. I’d go so far as saying the Godfall isn’t even fun.

Yes, it does look good and I can’t really fault the gameplay or the controls, it’s just all a bit thin. Once you get past the attractive parts there’s not a lot behind it.

Gods look good

Visually the game is amazing. It’s full of glowing lights and beautifully created scenery. The worlds look detailed, themed on elements. The water world, for example, really looks like it’s underwater, which is pretty nice.

But despite all this detail it’s not an open world. You can’t explore everywhere you want, just wander pre-made paths encountering small groups of random enemies. There are climbable ledges and tether points that you can jump to but it’s all fairly linear.

The suits of armour you unlock are fantastically detailed. Each is themed after an animal or insect, based on zodiac signs of various cultures apparently. Each one also has a gender, so the big muscular ones are male, the smaller, wasp-waisted ones with breasts are female, and the generally basic athletic ones are also male. It’s a weird call, especially as your character’s voice changes depending on what armour they are wearing.

As an aside, the Aries armour (called Mesa in the game), is a female character. I’m not sure how much the creators thought about this, beyond making a breastplate with ram horns. 🙄

While the armour is incredibly detailed and the focus point of most of the game, you can’t really get a good look at them. You can’t see the front when you’re in the game because the camera swivels around. And you can’t see the back in the menus because you can’t swivel the character. It seems like a lot of effort went into character design and then the decision was made not to show them off.

First-of-its-kind

Is it really though? Nothing about Godfall felt new or innovative.

You’re a protagonist out to avenge a betrayal by your brother. To do this you get allies and collect power-ups until you’re strong enough to face him. Of course, he has collected a group of lieutenants, that you must defeat first and in a particular order, and to get to them you’ll need to complete side missions to collect various MacGuffins.

Go there, beat up those baddies. Now go here and beat up these baddies. Repeat. It’s a tale as old as time. Nothing new here.

Along the way you’ll pick up new weapons and supplant your old ones. Or you can dismantle your old gear and use the remains to upgrade your favourites. Again, not a new mechanic.

You’ve got power stones that heal you and can confer temporary bonuses, these can also be upgraded. You’ve got banners, which are like area-of-effect spells and are super-useful in big fights. And you’ve got Augments which are added to your armour and act as boosts.

Levelling up gives you skill points that you can use on a skill tree (though more of a “skill matrix” in this case). All very normal stuff, that we’ve in dozens of games.

I’ve got no problem with these game mechanics, I just don’t get why it’s supposed to be new? Perhaps it’s the online play.

I didn’t actually get to play online in Godfall. Possibly because a new game on a new system doesn’t have a lot of other players at the times I wanted to play (I had similar problems years ago with Titanfall, or maybe it’s my bad luck with games that have “fall” in the title). Co-op seems like it would make the game at least a little more fun as you’d have someone to banter with.

I had expected a Destiny-style lobby with en-armoured warriors running about doing admin tasks, but no such luck. It was just me against the world.

Looter-slasher

Slash, slash, slash, loot, loot, loot! That’s pretty much the entirety of the game, which is why the combat system was interesting and possibly the most unique thing about the game.

It felt a little like a version of Soul Calibur where you could run out of the arena and go straight into another fight. The different weapons have different fighting styles and do different types of damage.

You can choose different stances and unleash particular attacks using combos. The help section contained a lot of details about fighting moves, though annoyingly not the button combos to do them.

I found the shield to be more useful than in other games, though the timing for parrying was tight. Helpfully you can throw your shield, Captain America-style, though this has a cooldown. A painfully slow cooldown, even out of combat. When you use your shield throw to collect pick-ups, be sure you’re in range because otherwise you’ll be waiting for a long time to try again.

Melee action-RPG

Melee certainly is the name of the game. But it’s not an RPG, because you don’t play a role.

Yes, you play as the protagonist, trying to win back their kingdom, but really you’re along for the ride, not controlling their actions or making plans.

Nothing you do has consequences. Conversations are just plot explanation and there’s no choices to be made beyond “which hack ’n’ slash adventure should I do next?” Even if you die in combat, you respawn close by and with the enemies at the health level you left them at.

You can’t even customise the armour beyond slightly different colours.

I’m not sure if this is a controversial statement but: role playing games are more than just weapon statistics and inventory management. Following sabermetrics is not the same as actually playing baseball, (to use a sports reference that only a few people will get). One will help you do the other thing better, but they aren’t the same.

Verdict

Honestly, I would wait for this one on sale if you wanted to buy it. It’s priced the same as other major titles but, in my opinion, ain’t worth it.

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