Godfall Review: Here Is The Generic Launch Game You’ve Been Waiting For
Godfall is the quintessential launch game. This gilded PS5 release shows off the power of the new hardware with its intricate, reflective halls of gold and obsidian, bioluminescent plant life, and enemies who explode in a shower of particles. “Next-gen is here,” it shouts, in a scream that’s barely perceptible over the whistle of high-speed steel. Underneath all of that sheen and noise, though, there’s nothing new at all.
Developer Counterplay Games wants you to think this is a new genre: the looter-slasher. But let me tell you what it actually is: a dungeon crawler. It’s a blend of Warframe, Monster Hunter: World, and Diablo. It’s also nowhere near as good as that sentence makes it sound.
To be fair to Counterplay, this is the studio’s first major game. It’s not terrible by any stretch of the imagination. It’s just uninspired. You battle through a handful of different biomes, you activate an elevator, then you grind the biomes you’ve completed to unlock a boss. You do this a handful of times and then you fight your brother, who wants to be a god. That’s it. That’s the game. This entire process took me nine hours to complete, at which point I was free to explore the endgame – which has you fight bosses you’ve beaten before, but now at a higher level and with some other small crinkles. But, honestly, I didn’t need to go this far in – after two hours of play, I’d seen everything Godfall has to offer.
To go back to that Warframe comparison – Warframe gets away with its repetitive core for a few reasons. Firstly, it has different mission types. Godfall is always about moving through a level and fighting a boss. Secondly, you’re a space ninja in Warframe – you can fly around, wall run, and pilot a ship. Also, you are a space ninja. And did I mention you are a space ninja? Godfall only has combat. Lastly, Warframe is free. Godfall is $70, and that’s for the standard edition. There’s not enough here to warrant that.
Even on a technical level, Godfall looks nice on the surface, but it just attempts to dazzle you with shiny materials and bright lights. It’s a tacky fairground ride. Then there’s the fact it doesn’t take advantage of ray tracing on PS5 – it uses screen-space reflections instead. Play it in Fidelity Mode and you’ll also run into performance problems.
That’s not to say it’s irredeemable. Godfall’s core combat feels nice for the most part, even if it is a little simplistic. Its evade is snappy, and a forward dodge is accompanied by a lovely, balletic animation that sees you spinning into the fray. I also like the Soulshatter mechanic, which sees a portion of light attack damage converted into what’s essentially a status effect that you can build up – hitting enemies with a heavy attack banks the damage, and they explode in a dust cloud if that strike is the killing blow. Swords and other melee weapons feel heavy and physical, and I particularly like how yours and an enemy’s weapon can sometimes clash mid-swing.
The parry system is less good, since you can’t interrupt attack animations to pull your shield up. This goes against the entire design. Godfall is a push-forward combat system that rewards aggression, but you have to stand and wait if you’re getting ready to defend. It would feel much more fluid if you always raised your shield as you pressed the defend button, and it would complement the pace brilliantly.
You can also switch between a variety of different armor sets that make you look like a hench furry – called Valorplates – that slightly change your stats and allow you to unleash a different ultimate ability. The differences here are barely perceptible, particularly playing alone, and I don’t see how these suits synergize when playing with friends either. Different weapon loadouts might, but you can already hot switch between two different weapons in real-time anyway. If you’ve got a fast and a heavy weapon, I don’t see why you’d need another player with their dual blades and warhammer as well. Of course, playing with friends is always more fun, but that’s not anything to do with the game itself.
Godfall is mindless for the most part, though the difficulty does ramp up later on, which forces you to engage a little more. You can’t just spam attacks on bosses, and you have to make use of parries and dodges to avoid being stomped into paste. If you are murdered, though, it doesn’t even matter because you respawn back where you were. Most of the time, the enemies are still wounded from your previous battle.
The difficulty spikes generally come from a level bump – you haven’t sufficiently grinded, please go grind some more. It’s a game that loves making you repeat tasks. Every time you get to the end of a realm – each of which is fashioned after an element – you have to go back to the grindstone to unlock the next mission. This starts with repeating the first realm, then it increases by one with each level you climb. By the end, you’re grinding resources in three regions just to unlock the last mission. It feels like padding. And it is. Without the repetition, I’d probably have finished Godfall in five or six hours.
When you’re not completing a mission, you’re back at your hub selecting between one of the 12 heavily armored furry costumes, upgrading your weapons, or talking to two uninteresting NPCs. Godfall needs a reason to keep playing it because there’s nothing here to pull you back after the credits roll. Yes, you can fight tougher versions of the monsters you’ve killed via the Dreamstones missions – which allow you to unlock buffs that affect combat – but the hub feels even more soulless when you’re done. Right at the end, something happens that affects one of the NPCs back at your base. When you return, though, it’s like nothing happened. They’re just there, and you can’t interact with them.
If you’re looking for another game like Anthem, this is that with swords. It might be wearing flashy armor, but its muscles are atrophied underneath.
A PS5 copy of Godfall was provided to TheGamer by Gearbox for this review. Godfall will be available on November 12 for PlayStation 5 and PC.
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Kirk is the Editor-in-Chief at The Gamer. He likes Arkane games a little too much.
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