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Godfall is a strange beast. Gearbox and Counterplay Games’ so-called ‘slasher looter’ seems to be pitching itself as a sort of Diablo / Destiny mash-up, with a Darksiders vibe to both its art style and story. It’s a decent concept and some ingredients for greatness are present, but its flaws stop it from being as fun as it should be.
For some reason though, I find myself still wanting to play it, drawn back over and over again thanks to some sort of arcane moreishness I can’t quite put my finger on.
Set in a high fantasy world, third person action RPG Godfall opens with an epic cinematic that wouldn’t look out of place in a Blizzard game, detailing the beginning of a conflict between factions of Valorian Knights. You play as Orin, who was betrayed by his brother Macros as he seeks control of the Monolith and reshape reality with it. After the bombastic CG cutscene ends, you’re plopped out of a portal and sent on your way while comrades Sora and Ravenna wish you well.
Godfall has some potential, but shortcomings get in the way
If this all sounds like highfalutin nonsense, that’s because it is. It’s clear that the game wants you to invest in the lore and world, but you’re dropped into everything with very little actual set-up, which means the whole thing feels you’ve tuned into a movie 30 minutes after it’s already started. The big takeaway is that this is a world where everyone wears incredibly ornate suits of armour that they apparently never ever take off.
Once you’ve completed the opening level, you’re whisked off to a hub area where you’re sent on missions by the Seventh Sanctum, a disembodied set of heads that look like Halo’s Cortana had a baby with Zordon from the Power Rangers.
The graphical design is excellent
Gameplay consists of melee combat, mixing up strong and light attacks with blocks and parries from your shield, as well as dashes. Your shield can be thrown Captain America style to soften up a foe or even knock weaker enemies down. The bread-and-butter fighting has an impactful, kick to it, as blows crash down on enemies with a great sense of power. Parrying isn’t as esoteric as other games either, thanks to a visual effect that signals when a bad guy is about to attack, offering a decent window to time your block.
However, much like with the narrative, the combat has a mark of the game stumbling over its own feet. There’s a lock-on function to assist during encounters, but it doesn’t always seem to work as quickly as it should. Lock-ons can be easily lost during a frantic battle, and even more annoyingly, switching targets doesn’t work very well either. More often than not, I ended up attacking the enemy that was easiest to lock-on to rather than the one that I thought deserved the most attention from my blade.
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But when things fall into place, with successful parries, dodges and bone shattering strikes all flowing, there is something satisfying about it.
When it comes to the RPG elements, there’s plenty to customise, craft and tweak. Those previously mentioned suits of armour? They’re called Valorplates, and there are a total of 12 of them to craft over the course of the game, each with unique abilities, such as dishing out different types of elemental damage. They all look vastly different as well, with intricate and extravagant designs that bring to mind the celestial outfits of anime series Saint Seiya.
Godfall's plot is lofty nonsense that you can just ignore
In the menus, there’s upgrade trees to improve and unlock attacks, as well as slots for augments. Of course, since it’s a slasher looter, there’s procedurally generated gear to find, including weapons. Your instruments of deaths range from quick and weak dual daggers, to mid range swords and powerful but slow hammers, with everything in between.
But again, there are issues here. The game throws a whole bunch of damage mechanics at you, offering a host of ways to whittle down opponents’ life gauges. Some attacks can deal Soulshatter damage which, as well as removing their health bar, turns part of it silver. Following up with a heavy Soulshatter attack then cashes in this ‘banked’ section for greater, even fatal damage which will see your enemy explode into goo.
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You can also enter Rampage mode after raining down a succession of attacks in a short space of time, while Polarity skills create a charge of energy that is unleashed when you switch to another weapon.
It all feels overstuffed with different ideas that don’t necessarily gel in a single game, and it’s hard to even see what particular advantage any individual skill offers over any of the others. This is all compounded by menu text that is incredibly small, even on the 50-inch screen I was using.
Combat options aplenty, but they don't fit together
The environments are pretty to look at, full of crumbling ruins, cathedral-like structures and angular artifacts glowing with mystical energy. Graphically, the game shines on the PS5, with vibrant colours and high level of detail on the armours of both you and your enemies.
Unfortunately, the level design isn’t very engaging, with areas often having a labyrinthine layout where you’ll easily get turned around. Some objects can be mantled allowing access to new areas, while some seemingly short mounds of earth or rocks are impassable barriers.
£70 for the console version is a bit of an ask
Godfall has some neat ideas and melee action that’s fun enough to possibly keep you dipping into it for a mission or two every so often.
The lock-on is fiddly, and when it comes to the combat abilities, it feels like a case of throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks rather than a complimentary, cohesive set of options.
Still, the fact that it is currently more of a complete experience than a ‘game-as-a-service’ is something in its favour, with the promise of actually seeing the climax of a story, as half-cocked as it is.
If you can reduce the narrative to background noise and brute force your way through some of the shortcomings, there are worse ways to spend your time than with this middling adventure, although given the PS5 version’s whopping £70 price point (just for the standard edition), you may want to wait for a sale.
Godfall is out now for PlayStation 5 for £69.99 and on PC (via the Epic Game Store ) for £49.99