Godfall does a lot of things right visually, but fails to match that potential with lackluster gameplay.
Godfall looked cool from its initial reveal. With particle effects and lighting that truly said next generation, this was one game I was truly excited to see run on my PS5. The game delivers visually, with every combat encounter offering dazzling effects that show off your new hardware capabilities...but the gameplay fails to follow suit.
Godfall is a combination of ideas from various games, and the developers made this clear by calling the game a “slasher/looter” when talking about what genre it falls into. Clearly inspiration comes from other games such as Destiny with loot, or Diablo with combat, but Godfall’s experience feels a bit shallow in comparison.
At first the game is exciting and fun because the combat works well. There is a basic four button mechanic: attack, power attack, block, and dodge. In early battles this works just fine, but I went at it with the expectation of this evolving as I progressed through the game. Sadly it didn’t. This four button mechanic sticks with you through the entire campaign and evolves very little with your added skills and new weapons.
You are able to alter your character slightly to adjust to your specific playstyle by equipping weapons and gear that makes you ultimately faster or slower, with attack damage adjusting accordingly, but that’s about it. In my hours of gameplay nothing has changed my character to look/feel any different from my friend’s character, who is a slower heavier brute.
The gameplay also starts to feel repetitive rather fast because of this. The mobs of enemies you encounter as you explore are swift fast battles, with very little strategic motivation to it. Faster moving characters feel more rewarding with visuals and combat, compared to slow attacks that are hard to time. You are unable to stop mid animation to put up a shield of dodge, so there is some timing needed and a bit of pattern memorization. Overall that’s about as complex as it gets with main combat.
The real challenge (and fun) comes when fighting boss battles. It’s here that recognizing patterns and attacking accordingly takes full effect. There is some strategy to be had with most of the bosses I’ve faced and I’ve had a lot of fun with them being somewhat challenging to me. There is still very little depth in terms of finding a weak spot or specific type of attack though. It’s mostly let them attack, take your shots, then dodge out of the way. Some perks you unlock add mechanics like being able to pinpoint weak spots to attack. This is an interesting way to make core gameplay mechanics feel like it has depth in the unlock tree.
Which brings me to core mechanics, where I wish this game had a little more depth. There really is nothing beyond smashing attack and dodging, with a perry here and there. There isn’t an easy way to swiftly attack multiple enemies at once, or create some lengthy combo between them. Instead it’s a 1-2-3 dodge mentality throughout a majority of the game. You can’t really interrupt animation on either side which creates a clunky feel to combat, especially when using heavier equipment that should (in theory) shatter weaker attacks.
The game also doesn’t punish you upon death which makes it even easier. I was honestly surprised to see this aspect of the game. Upon death all enemies you’ve killed remain dead, and damage done to remaining enemies is still there, so you basically just respawn and clean up. There is very little reason to not die because almost nothing is taken from you at all. Instead, you are given special attack abilities that charge up over combat, if you die then this meter resets. In later battles this becomes more concerning, but ultimately isn’t that big of a deal. During boss battles you also hit key health checkpoints, so if you die the boss will have health depleted to that point. Being used to punishment on death in other games I expected some type of checkpoint system, or to have to at least redo dungeon areas, but the lack of punishment really makes progressing a breeze.
Also lacking is the depth of the world you’re in. By calling the game a “looter” I expected the world around me to be filled with…. Loot. Or the enemies would be dropping specific things I can gather, and ultimately be really curious about what loot I can find. Instead what I’m met with is basically a barren world filled with dull enemies that just wait around till I destroy them. Loot drops honestly remind me of the early days of Destiny, where the world felt empty and loot basically sucked.
It’s all about power, and nothing really else. A legendary sword feels just like your common sword, they look basically the same, the only difference being your legendary one has more attack damage. There’s no real reason to explore or fight lesser enemies. You still get a typical thrill of seeing higher end loot drop, but again it feels like early days of Destiny where you grind away for no real reason.
This very little depth carries to basically everything the game offers. You are also able to unlock Valorplates which come with specific stats and archon abilities, and the game takes its time to explain how these can “affect your playstyle.” Sadly, the stats are very similar, with almost no real difference and a few tweaks via loot drops or the skill tree will make them all feel the same. While 12 armor sets are available, you only have the option of three Archon abilities. (Archon abilities being basically ultimate / finisher style abilities that make them unique) So in theory you have 12 options that boil down to basically three variations. The only real difference, again, is the fact you will look cool or varied from a co-op partner.
Speaking of co-op, the second major reason I was excited for this game: the entire campaign can be played with a friend. And I stress friend because the game has no public matchmaking, meaning your friend has to own a copy and be on your friends list in order to join. However, it is a pretty simple process and does make the game more enjoyable. I like to relate this to the positive side of Destiny, as it feels a lot like raids with friends. The only downside being the fact the game offers no real motivation to work together since none of the combat blends or creates combos with the other player. It would be neat to see the lightning and various powers create one morphed move.
Gameplay aside, I will admit the game has had me astonished visually on multiple occasions. Several of the boss intros, or how they attack and move about a level, has had me amazed and verbally impressed on multiple instances. The combat has a very powerful feel to it and finishing enemies with a burst of light, or watching the dazzling light effects from various attacks, really has a way of keeping you playing. All the attention to detail in the backgrounds and art among the level is very impressive. Topping off the display is a very clean and well dialogued cast, each character has a very unique personality to them and everyone is thrilling or interesting to listen to. The animation and everything in terms of presentation for Godfall is a solid 10/10 in every way.