Clever Beans’ new game Gods Will Fall is out now for all current console systems as well as the PC. We tested it on a PlayStation 4 Pro – here are our thoughts.
Gods Will Fall was the last virtual developer meeting we had last year, and we’ve been looking forward to the final game ever since then. We covered its unique premise in our preview last month, but the short summary is that humankind if fed up with its gods and decided to take them down. The gods don’t take that move very well, and smite down every last one of them – except for the eight brave souls that end up on a beach at the start of the game.
From there, your eight heroes have to take down all ten gods on the island, each of which resides in a unique realm. Only one hero at a time can enter a realm, and if a hero falls he’s permanently lost. Not just for this run – for good, since the game generates eight new heroes for you for every run you start. No matter their attributes, they’ll bond together through their successes and failures, so although the narrative isn’t super fleshed out there’s always something unique that binds your crew together and makes you care about them.
If a character falls but is captured rather than killed, another character can go in after them to try and defeat the realm’s god – thus saving his friend (and any others who were captured in that realm before) in the process. If you fell because the realm (or boss) is particularly challenging though, then you might risk losing teammate after teammate, possible resulting in a quick end to your run. In that case, you might want to try another realm first and come back later.
How combat plays out depends on the character you send in – and you can choose one based on your preferred playstyle and the various attributes they’ve been given. Some are good at mid-range, while others prefer melee. When you know which realm you’re entering, your choice of hero can change accordingly – you might base it off the boss fight tactics at the end of the realm, for instance – or on your ability to even get through to said boss fight.
The randomization of each playthrough doesn’t end with the cast of warriors you control, but also extends to the placement and frequency of enemies within each realm – so a certain god might be supremely challenging to reach and defeat one run but can be a pushover in the next. Luck definitely plays a factor then, because you don’t know what you’re getting when you enter your first realm – and you could be down three or four heroes by the time you reach a realm you can beat and which can help you level up one of your warriors.
This can be frustrating though, just as it can be exciting when you’re able to bounce back from heavy early losses. Part of that frustration isn’t just the randomization though, it’s also that combat with bosses can feel unfair due to some sluggish controls – which the game gets away with during the leadup to a boss but can become infuriating when there’s no apparent way to dodge enemy attacks. You’ll also notice the controls working against you in levels with verticality, where you can suddenly drop to your doom. There’s definitely room for refinement here, as the combat can be fun when it flows within one of the gorgeously designed realms.
While the ebb and flow where you lose and regain party members is a definitely hook in this roguelike game that kept me invested and interested, having to start completely from scratch with a second crew got disheartening after three runs or so – mostly because you never take anything with you from a previous run. Because of this, your investment in the characters and their progression is mostly confined to a single run. Sure, you can go back and try again, but even when you master the levels and their bosses just enough to beat the game, a full playthrough will take three to four hours and that’s a lot of time to keep going through without repetitiveness setting in.
There’s a gem of a gameplay formula here, but in between the controls and relatively lack of a long term hook it could have used a bit more polish. Without it, there’s a sense of “what could have been” about this one.