Gods Will Fall
Developer: Clever Beans
Publisher: Deep Silver
Genre: Hack and Slash, Dungeon Crawler, Action
Platform: Xbox Series X
Age Rating: PEGI 16
Release Date: 29/01/2021
A code was provided for review purposes.
It’s easy to forget some of the smaller titles releasing this year amongst new content drops and bigger releases. One such title is Gods Will Fall, a dungeon crawler from publisher Deep Silver and developer Clever Beans. It’s one I wish I had on my radar, and despite going into this one without much expectation or knowledge about it, I quickly found myself hooked on its fun gameplay and charming style. Even despite its glaringly obvious flaw.
A Quest for Vengeance
Gods Will Fall has you take control of a band of Celtic warriors on a mission to destroy the far from benevolent gods who have subjugated them and their people for far too long. With no real story focus present, you might wonder how evil these gods actually are. Fortunately, the god’s abundant lack of virtue is made pretty clear in the opening minutes of the game.
Upon starting a playthrough, you’ll be met with a brief intro sequence. This will detail how the events of the game have come to be. What I didn’t expect was how sinister it all is.
Dark images of eldritch-like tendrils are complemented by deep tribal chanting, as the on-screen text is narrated by a deep voice speaking in an ancient dialect. It’s all very occult, to say the least, and is enough to make your skin crawl. Scenes follow of people forced to worship these evil deities, and what happens to those who refuse. It’s a surprisingly impactful touch, as it perfectly establishes the tone of the game going forward, while simultaneously providing enough context to grab your attention.
Great Character Building
While it doesn’t focus on crafting a strong narrative, Gods Will Fall still fosters player investment through its system of, what I’d call, dynamic character building.
The events of the game will progressively create a story unique to each character, shaping how weak or strong they are in a present or future scenario. For example, the game doesn’t have you play one single character but eight, all of whom are the only survivors of an attack by the gods they’d come to slay. You’ll quickly notice that the attack has an effect on some of the survivors from the outset, with some haunted by it, and others motivated by it.
This leaves some group members with stat penalties and others with stat boosts. As you progress your way through the game, more dynamic events occur that continually alter your warriors and challenge you to choose wisely when deciding who gets a crack at the next god.
In addition to this, the warriors you are given in every playthrough will be randomly generated. This means that every playthrough will feel different. Everything from your warrior’s stats, skills, names, and looks will be unique to that playthrough. While it’s often great to be able to make your own character, I loved how the game was able to utilise this mechanic to create a set of characters I could grow fond of.
A Motley Crew
In my time with the game, I have had two different groups. It is my beloved band of lunatics from my first playthrough I cherish most, though.
I never thought much of them at first, and to be honest, just saw them as cannon fodder. But as time passed, these warriors of mine proved they were the bravest bunch of crazies to ever walk the earth. If it were not seen in their actions, then through the fact they were half-naked, running at colossal deities with nothing but primitive swords and spears. That’s true courage right there.
I could go on and on about the journey me and my clan went on. I could tell you how I was overwhelmed by a wave of triumph as my burliest boy, Ea, emerged victorious with his lost comrade. Or how I was amazed when my weakest warrior, fueled by a spur of bloodlust, single-handedly killed two gods back to back. These are but some of the stories I could tell from my playthrough, and something I truly didn’t expect to take away from the experience at all.
The pairing of both the procedurally generated characters and the dynamic events that shape those characters is without a doubt the best and most unexpected feature the game has to offer. It’s a subtle mechanic that has a huge impact on the player’s experience. It will spin many great stories from characters that are otherwise blank canvases, making the killing of a god or death of a comrade that much more significant.
At the end of the day, however, it’s you in the driver’s seat when taking on the ghastly gods of Gods Will Fall, so how does it play? Fortunately, you don’t need to be a gaming pro to do well in this game.
Before you go about cutting and clobbering your way through the gods you’ll go through a tutorial dungeon that introduces you to the games combat mechanics. These consist of light attacks, heavy attacks, dodging, and interacting with objects. For those who want to take it to the next level, you are also taught to parry and throw weapons from fallen foes.
Gods Will Fall feels a lot like a Hack N’ Slash experience, where there’s no real depth to combat other than go out there and smack something till it stops moving. Simplistic as the gameplay might be, it’s still proved to be a blast. Its combat is among the most satisfying I’ve played in a while. Each thud and squish grants weight to every blow.
What’s more, the devs have done a good job of making the game feel balanced, offering players a fun yet challenging experience. I’ll be honest when I say my first few dungeons nearly ended my playthrough. Luckily, all that did was push me to try again. It’s a challenging experience that adds to the overall gameplay satisfaction. Compelling you to see a dungeon through and improve every time, making the defeat of a god that much more rewarding.
To Hell and Back
I can’t sit listing the games many merits without talking about the games titular gods and the realms they inhabit. To slay each god you must first fight through the caverns, halls and hills of their respective domain. In your path lies foes in servitude to their respective deity, and all can be just as deadly as their master. You’ll encounter the minor foot-soldier, as well as otherworldly beasts who’ll stop at nothing to protect their god. Fortunately for you, killing them will not only help you reach the god but also reduce its health for the final confrontation, as the life of realms unruly denizens is directly tied to its rulers.
You might even want to stop and take in the view. Every realm features its own unique look and style, on top of being well designed throughout. Where the more grotesque domains feature jittering trees of bone and raining human ribs, others are more elegant, with crystal rivers and golden fields. Horrid as the gods may be, you can’t fault their artistic vision. At several points, I’d simply pause just to take a mental snapshot of an area. The way every realm is different from the last makes them an absolute treat to fight through. Even despite how perilous they may be.
The Final Battle
Should you survive all the way through a realm, you’ll face off against one of the gods themselves. These fights feel like a true final showdown, mythical and cinematic, as each god is introduced with a special cutscene and granted their own arena. They will put your skills to the test as each god comes with its own attack style and mechanics you’ll need to learn and exploit in order to win. Some prove to be tougher than others, but just like their realms, every god is made memorable in their own right, with a unique look and epic battle you won’t soon forget.
A Short Trip
Where the game ironically falls short is in its length. I had an amazing time playing this game, but the fact it can be completed in less than a day doesn’t sit right with me. The team have clearly aimed to make this a small project, but with the plethora of systems in place and how well they’ve crafted a genuinely unique experience, I can’t help but wish they’d pushed for more. It feels a lot like playing a demo rather than the final product. This is not only due to how brief it is, but also how it feels like the team has only scratched the surface of the game’s potential. That to me is a real shame.
Gods Will Fall proved to be a game I wish I played sooner. While it fails to realise its full potential, it takes you on an unforgettable journey as you guide unsuspecting heroes against perilous odds. With satisfying combat, picturesque landscapes, and epic boss battles, Gods Will Fall is a gem of a dungeon crawler and one you won’t want to miss.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Gods Will Fall from the Microsoft store right here.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.