Gosh, sometimes I hate making a prediction about something and then seeing it come true. Godfall tries to take the looter shooter system and apply it to a game about swords and gods and well. The results are wholly underwhelming.
A glorified tech demo
Make no mistake, Godfall is pretty. Fantastic locations and vistas are everywhere to be seen, with massive statues, crumbling towers and gleaming armour at every turn. If you had told me this was the latest benchmark tool for a PC, I wouldn’t be surprised. It just screams eye candy all the time and I’m quite surprised there isn’t a photo mode to show off the various locations in the game. But beyond the glitter, there is so little substance, and that is where the issues start to show up.
Godfall has a paper-thin story, and while many games are fine without stories, this one will have you rolling your eyes as the characters repeat themselves, or talk completely past one another. Big revelations or statements get made without any remark, bringing awkward conversations to an abrupt halt.
Sadly it isn’t just the story that needs work…
Get ready for hundreds of loot drops, to the point that you don’t care about what you use, just that a number went up. Instead of focusing on the combat and making you use specific weapons for certain tasks or playstyles, you are about to be bombarded with gear that you need to keep equipping and salvaging so that you can upgrade and enchant it. It feels copied from any big looter game, but without the excitement of the higher level drops. Getting a legendary sword that just gives a +x% to some or other thing is nowhere near as exciting as a weapon that summons skeletal allies or changes the way a skill works. As a result, you just throw stat sticks in every slot of your character loadout before going out to kill more things and open more chests before doing it all again.
Sadly it isn’t just the story that needs work…
That big sword you really liked? Replaced with a green one a while later, because it did more damage. By the end, I still wasn’t sure which stats did what, and it didn’t seem to matter. Just do more damage and dodge the big red attacks, and everything is fine. More games need to realise that loot needs to be exciting and cater to skill sets or playstyles, or they can just avoid them entirely.
1 vs 1 me
A lot of the build-up to Godfall was how the combat was going be exciting and technical and lead to some amazing duels between opponents. The truth is that the combat systems just fall short. Instead of adding things like animation cancelling or clever ways to alter combos or juggles and punishers, the combat relies too heavily on a sprawling skill tree to spice things up. Unless you unlock the skill, there is no point to timing your button presses rather than just mashing buttons. The same can be said for rewarding good blocking, parries, and the like, with too many different terms and systems all colliding into a mish-mash of “hit the enemy and stuff happens”.
Everything just comes down to using one of your many energy bars you are filling up, and dodging the red attacks, then parrying the blue attacks.
Having so many of the effects be a result of your skill choices rather than your button presses or your equipment doesn’t make the fighting feel challenging or technical. Everything just comes down to using one of your many energy bars you are filling up, and dodging the red attacks, then parrying the blue attacks. Sure it looks flashy with nice spell effects and the like, but it doesn’t feel exciting or like a deep understanding of the systems makes me a better fighter.
Copying without understanding
Godfall feels like it copies from several games that have done really well in their genre or a certain aspect of gameplay, but without understanding the reasons why those systems worked so well or players enjoy engaging with them. As a result, you get bombarded with resources for crafting, upgrading and buying new valorplates (the game’s name for the shiny armour you wear) and to, ugh, unlock boss levels. Yes, to get to the bosses you need to collect sigils, which means doing side missions. As a result, I killed certain named bosses several times, stealing their resources to open a door to fight a boss. The game does this several times, forcing you to do side missions, that only have three different flavours, all of which involve running to a place and stabbing something.
Not that there is anything wrong with stabbing something. Until you realise you are stabbing the same thing again, for a key to stab something else, before going to stab something else. Some variety would be useful, but I never even felt like I needed to switch up valorplates for any reason other than having a different look. Not that they did more than give a different look. They all move the same, have the same stats and just give a 10% bonus to something or other because this game just loves +x% bonuses to some or other stat or thing.
Godfall is the kind of game you use to show how pretty games can look on your PS5, before you go and play something else to have some fun. In a genre full of mindless grinds that are way more fun and refined, Godfall doesn’t bring anything new to the table. I wish I could be angry about it, but I am just disappointed at how something so pretty just had none of the care in other aspects required to make this into something special, or a gem in the rough.