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The barbaric reign of ten fearful deities has swept the land for too long, and the time has come to bring their horrific ruling to an end. Gods Will Fall, the latest project from developers Clever Beans and published by Deep Silver, thrusts players into a Celtic mythology inspired tale of sacrifice, vengeance, and redemption. In an act of retaliation, armies arise and set sail to the Overworld, a mysterious island where these cruel titans reside, however only a select few survive. Whether it’s pure luck or an act of fate, only eight warriors wash upon the shores of this beautiful and dangerous region, setting forth on their journey with no hesitation. No one said defying the Gods would be an easy task, unfortunately. Failures and defeat are likely inevitable. However the introduction of some new and interesting mechanics are thrown into the mix, delivering some fresh elements to an otherwise familiar gameplay formula.
The initial moments of washing upon the shores of The Overworld unveiled a ravishing, colorful, and mysterious island which serves as the game’s main map. Though fairly small in size, a spectacular amount of fine, artistic details are painted across this ancient plane. Forests, beaches, distinct rock formations, as well as sites that appear to have served some means of ritualistic services, are scattered throughout. There are also several points of interest that can be visited and interacted with while exploring, each holding secrets of their own if discovered. The calming atmosphere and sights of this beautiful and preserved location had me feeling like I was immersed in an interactive painting.
Another noticeable feature on the map, is the placement of ten colossal doorways. Each one serves as an entrance to one of the God’s realms, where the majority of the game’s focus resides. The realms themselves presented dangerous labyrinths populated with a variety of enemies, ranging from worshipers to otherworldly creatures that frantically attack the moment you are in sight. The treacherous terrains residing in each dungeon are thoughtfully crafted terms of design, ranging from dingy torchlit caverns and temples, to cliff sides looming over the oceans. The environments pose just as much threat as the enemies within, and the slightest slip up can result in a warrior’s demise.
The systems within Gods Will Fall are an ambitious structure, and I was both surprised and really impressed with what has been implemented. It does initially present itself as a traditional ‘hack n slash’ with rogue-like and soft RPG mechanics, but there is a respectful amount of depth is fused into the mix as well. Players begin their adventure with eight warriors, each differing from one another in terms of physique, weapons, stats, and skills. Upon entering a realm, the premise is quite simple; choose a worthy fighter, clear the hordes of enemies, and take down the divine entity that awaits at the end of each realm. If successful, you’ll be rewarded with items, bragging rights, and usually a selection of weapons to upgrade your current group. Being defeated however (and I can assure you right now this will happen more often than not), your team will dwindle in numbers quickly, eventually resulting in a full wipe and game over screen. There’s a random chance that a hero can become ‘trapped’ within the realm when taken down, and a successful run with another character will retrieve them. It’s a very addictive cycle that focuses on trial and error, one that managed to keep both my frustration and determination levels high each time around.
There are a handful of other cards at play that will alter your experience either for better or for worse as well. First off, the difficulty level of enemies shifts at random, as well as their placement within each realm whenever you start a fresh run. What may have been an effortless victory last time, could quite possibly be a quick demise the next. The boss battles didn’t seem to differ in what were already fairly challenging encounters, but the same couldn’t be said about the various aggressive minions blocking the path to each. Another notable and intriguing element is the narrative direction taken between the warriors and the Gods. Upon entering some realms, brief engagements would detail a glimpse of their past, usually regarding visions they had of a certain god, or an event between themselves and another member of the party. These smaller details not only added a more personal connection between the heroes, but altered the players outcome as well. Stats could be boosted, or other times diminished. Points of interest within the dungeons also possess an opportunity to grant buff’s and new skills for players to utilize, as well as fragments of lore regarding the gods themselves.
Once (and if) players clear out the onslaught of minions within a realm, they’ll finally face off against the God of that dungeon. These epic and often intimidating encounters provided the most challenge in the game for me, and rightfully so. The fierce titans differ from one another both physically and mechanically, tossing a variety of attacks and projectiles towards the player the duration of the battle. The random shift in difficulty between any fresh run didn’t seem to alter these fights, leaving personal skill as a prioritized asset once again. Several failed runs brought to light that clearing out enemies prior to the final battle drastically lowers the bosses health as well, offering players a slight advantage boost, should they choose to risk clearing an entire dungeon.
The challenging, precise and fluent combat kept me fully alert during any encounter within the realms, and there’s no shortage of enemies along the way either. Both light and heavy attacks are present, as well as the ability to pick up items found both on enemies and around the environments. Another crucial skill is parrying, which can quickly put the fight in your favor. A brief flash on an enemy or its weapon opens a very small window of time to deflect an attack, usually staggering them or smashing their armor. There is a mechanic named Bloodlust which can be a savior if timed properly as well, as it grants an opportunity to gain a back a substantial amount of health simply by landing attacks while triggering a war cry at the right time. Both variation in attack patterns, as well as the randomization of enemies, intensified each battle, almost forcing players to rely on personal skill. Even the easiest of enemies provided a deadly threat, leaving little to no room for error. Accessible controls provide an ‘easy to learn, difficult to master’ approach, with the welcoming option of button mapping for those who wanting to find their comfort zone. Hit boxes did however feel off during a few engagements, and enemies did tend to clip through the floor, all while still delivering some damaging blows. Fortunately, these minor issues were very rare occurrences, and really didn’t pile up enough to be a bother.
Gods Will Fall unquestionably caters to players seeking a challenging experience, and impressively introduces a variety of unique and fresh mechanics targeting both storytelling and gameplay. The procedural generation of enemy placement, as well as difficulty shifting between the dungeons, delivers a substantial amount of replay value each new run, forcing players to rethink and strategize their approach. The way the narration tied directly into the players actions was a clever mix as well, always delivering an ever evolving storyline between both the heroes and the taunting overlords. The risk and reward balance always felt consistent, even after a countless amount of failed runs. Other than a few very minor performance issues, I really didn’t encounter anything that altered my experience whatsoever. An addicting gameplay loop, followed by charming visuals and enjoyable combat, makes this an experience that shouldn’t be missed, and undoubtedly deserves to be ranked highly alongside other top contenders of the genre. The hunt is on. Gods Will Fall is now available across all major gaming platforms.