Whatever you may call it, the roguelike/rougelite style of game has had a banner few years. Titles such as Hades, Dead Cells, Void Bastards, and Slay the Spire all represent interesting takes on the genre, and with new games seemingly coming once a month, it can be hard for a newcomer to stand out. Clever Beans must have known this, which is why they did an excellent job of selling Gods Will Fall. You are literally tasked with battling the Gods — that’s a damn good set-up for an adventure if you ask me.
The premise of Gods Will Fall is remarkably simple. A clan of eight unique warriors crashlands on the isle of the Gods, comprised of 10 different realms with each housing a different deity. These mythical beings have wreaked havoc on the lives and loved ones of the clan, and need to be taken out for good. If one hero falters, another will need to step up to continue the battle. If all eight fall, then the process must begin anew.
Not unlike Hades, Gods Will Fall is a top-down hack-and-slasher at its core, though the combat is not nearly as complex. Each warrior has either a weak or strong attack, and they can also pick-up enemy weapons and use them until they break, or throw them. There’s also a jumping strike that can be used to hit foes that have fallen to the ground. During your travels, you’ll also come across additional projectiles, such as bombs and throwing knives.
What ends up separating each of the clan members is their weapon(s) of choice and their individual stats, both of which can be upgraded by completing realms. I chose to go spear-heavy during my runs, but swords, axes, and hammers are all viable options. As for the stats, these can actually go both ways. Taking out a god will grant you a stat boost not only for the hero who landed the kill but for some of the other party members as well. However, if you over-use one of your characters, their stats will be negatively affected as a result of over-battling. They’ll get better over time, but the devs clearly want you to make use of all of their characters.
Gods Will Fall‘s roguelike elements come into play with the realms’ layout. Every run you make through the gauntlet will be different, and difficulty levels for each area vary, so a realm that may have been a breeze one time could be significantly tougher on the next run. As you might expect for the genre, item drops and enemy placements are also randomized. One of the other interesting quirks is that certain warriors may react differently to each realm. They could receive a buff from their lust for revenge, or they may be hurt due to fearing the God lurking within. Interpersonal relationships within the group can also alter stats — if one warrior gets trapped in a realm, another may get a slight boost from wanting to save them.
Truth be told, the randomness found within Gods Will Fall is both a blessing and a curse. I think there are some genuinely interesting ideas at play here — the shifting bonds between clan members, as well as how they react to certain gods, add extra thought to who you should be using. It gives the characters some personality as well, which is sorely lacking from most of the game. However, with the difficulty of each realm changing from run to run, it can be difficult to make progress. You could find yourself struggling early on simply because you chose the wrong level to start with. The levels themselves also tend to be pretty long, so having to play through some of them multiple times in a single run can get a little monotonous.
Not helping the tedium is the fact that the combat is bare-bones at best. At its core, Gods Will Fall is a very basic hack and slasher, and not a very good one at that. We’ve seen this type of game done hundreds of times before, and it takes more than just the basics to make a good impression. Instead, you’ll spend your time dicing your way through hordes of enemies that are severely lacking in intelligence. Boss battles are a little more impressive, but once you have higher stats, you can easily cheese your way through most of them. I had just as much luck running up to one and stabbing him repeatedly as I did when I tried to carefully parry their attacks. For a game built around having to attempt multiple playthroughs, being this repetitive isn’t doing you any favors.
Despite its serious tone, Gods Will Fall has a surprisingly cartoonish look to it. The clan members’ physiques are all over the place — some are built like a brick wall while others are as thin as a rail. Their animations match, as they have some comical flair to them. Admittedly, I’m a huge fan of the environment designs as well, as each level feels entirely unique from the other, and developer Clever Beans does some good work with the camera to give them a sense of scale. Crossing a bridge over a bottomless pit looks as frightening as it should. It’s definitely not the strongest looking title from a technical perspective, but the art style does manage to make up for that.
Gods Will Fall is an interesting beast to judge. Its cartoonish style has some appeal, and the set-up for the adventure itself is a great one. There are even interesting mechanics on display here, specifically the relationships that can form between the members of your team. However, all of that can’t really make up for the fact that the core gameplay isn’t that enjoyable. The maddening difficulty is a tough hill to climb, and the dull combat can’t make up for the tedium that sets in. Clever Beans has a great framework to work from here, but this effort is a weak release in a way too strong genre.
This review is based on the PlayStation 4 version of the game. A copy was provided by Deep Silver.
There are some clever ideas to be found within the world of Gods Will Fall, but they can't make up for the fact that it often feels like a tedious slog.