It sure has been a while since I stuck my teeth into a roguelike and even after a good break from the genre, Gods Will Fall does not instil a great deal of excitement, but it is still addictive all the same. This game is a challenge, and that’s a good thing, by the way, but it is let down by annoying gripes which can dissuade long sessions. Despite this, can Gods Will Fall inspire more modern players to return to the ever more niche Roguelike genre?
Gods Will Fall was released on the 29th January 2021, developed by Clever Beans and published by Deep Silver. Gods Will Fall takes place in a dark fantasy world with Celtic Pict inspirations, where a pantheon of Gods has been worshipped for aeons by the Human inhabitants. However, as time went on, the Gods became ever more demanding of their subjects, to the point the Celts decide to rise up against their gods in revolt. The Celts send forth a vast fleet to invade the God’s home isle and depose them. This goes ever so slightly awry when the Gods (who have control over the elements, like water) sink the entire fleet into the ocean. Thus, leaving merely 8 survivors; your party for the duration of this adventure. The story is delivered by a narrator speaking a fictional language, which your party also speak at various points. There is no English dialogue to speak of. I found the story to be rather standard and uninspired, however, the story is not the focus here. The focus is the gameplay and overcoming challenging bosses.
Your party is pretty well rounded and changes each time you start a new game. You’ll most likely start with a couple of swordsmen, maybe a couple of lancers, some axe-bearers etc. After the tutorial dungeon, you are free to tackle the island in any way you see fit. You have free reign to just walk up to any dungeon you wish and attempt to kill the God at the end of it. Some are stronger than others and it’s down to you to figure that out.
The main bulk of the gameplay is the traversal of said dungeons from the entrance to the boss arena. Along the way, you will need to cut your way through the relevant minions of your target boss. Killing these enemies chips away a portion of the boss’s health in preparation for the fight. So, there is a huge incentive to seek out and neutralise any minions before tackling the boss for that added advantage. I found this to be a welcome mechanic as I felt like I was making the effort to explore all the areas and contributing to the penultimate fight. Gods Will Fall also allows you to pick up most enemy weapons to use against your foes. I found a good tactic was to pick up an enemy weapon after each encounter and use it to knock a chunk off the next enemy by throwing the weapon at them from a distance.
Each weapon style of your party members has its own trade-offs, pretty standard fare. The Axe-bearers hit hard but swing slow, lancers hit fast but little damage per hit, and swordsmen are a good in-between. The combat is very tight and responsive with an “easy to learn but difficult to master” character where you can see your improvement quite tangibly.
If you’re like me, you’ll gravitate to a playstyle quite quickly. I started with an axe-bearer and focused on opportune timings to hit for big damage. You’ll get used to that playstyle and you’ll get good at it. But before you know it, you’ve been turned into rice pudding by a stronger boss and that party member is dead…oops and you have to readapt and get good at a totally different playstyle if you want to keep going. This can be rather aggravating, especially if you lost your two only axe-bearers to the same boss in succession. So, go on, have a crack at that boss in the upper left part of the island, I promise you won’t get stomped into the ground or sideswiped so hard all that’s left of you is a fine Celtic red mist.
Yeah, this game is hard, infuriatingly so at times. Depending on the boss, they can hit like freight trains or they can hit quickly with little telegraphing. Or both because the game really wants to ruin your day. That being said, any deaths I had at the hands of the bosses often felt like my own fault for making a mistake rather than unavoidable annoying issues seen in other challenging games.
The gameplay is not without its flaws, however. Even your most mobile party members are gratingly slow when traversing the dungeons, to the point that merely getting from the entrance to the boss feels like a chore. Coupled with the desire to wipe out all enemies before hitting the boss, the movement speed quickly gets on your wick. I’m unsure as to why this movement speed was chosen, but a speed boost would be greatly appreciated. Also, at times the camera can feel too far away from your character during boss fights, leading to getting lost and taking a hit you didn’t see coming.
However, this appears to be intentional as to fit the often huge bosses into the frame. It will take time to adapt to the camera distance and fight effectively whilst tracking yourself. All of these gripes make long sessions really taxing, I found that I could only muster about an hour (about a dungeon’s worth) of playing before fatigue set in, and I needed to play something else.
At the time of this review, the game contains ten bosses for you to fight, with more Gods to be added in the upcoming Valley of the Dormant Gods DLC pack. With the current roster, Gods Will Fall is not a long game if you know what you’re doing. But the hour count is quickly ramped up through deaths and redo’s.
Suffice to say, I’m terrible at this game, but I can certainly see the appeal of that adrenaline rush you get when you finally defeat that God that kept pummelling you into the dirt. I hate to make the comparison, but it doesn’t have that Dark Souls-esque sense of accomplishment upon your success, with each one motivating you to keep going until you get inevitably pummelled again. That being said, Gods Will Fall is not nearly as punishing as Dark Souls.
Gods Will Fall is certainly a mixed bag for me, on one hand, you have a very solid brutally challenging roguelike with adrenaline-pumping boss fights, appealing Celtic art style and player freedom in regard to progression. But on the other hand, the game is troubled with odd gameplay choices such as the movement speed, camera issues, fatigue-inducing gameplay loop outside of God fights and a lacking story which I wasn’t interested in seeing through to the end by virtue of it alone. With the upcoming Valley of the Dormant Gods DLC pack, I hope that the additional Gods will give the game the longevity and the improvements it needs.