Godfall is one of the most beautiful games released in recent memory. It's just too bad the gameplay and story can't quite keep up.
So far, Godfall is the first game to really justify upgrading to a next-generation console or graphics card. The game looks absolutely gorgeous, from the lighting effects and reflections that flicker and sway as fires burn in their cauldrons to the way the wind blows banners overhead and shadows flutter on the ground below. And it’s so much more immersive to actually see the world reflected back at you when you look down and see it in a puddle of water. If Godfall isn’t currently the best looking game on the market, it’s certainly close.
Unfortunately, the actual gameplay attached to these breathtaking visuals is basic and repetitive, and Godfall’s story is a razor thin excuse to slash through a few thousand shiny and glowing bad guys. You are Orin, a fallen king. Your brother Macros is about to attain the power to become a god, and it’s your job to stop him. You’ll get a little more background between missions, but it doesn’t really matter. The story gets the job done.
Developer Counterplay Games has described Godfall as a “looter-slasher,” taking inspiration from titles like Dark Souls, Monster Hunter, and Destiny 2, though these diverse influences never quite gel together. Combat feels like a faster version of a Souls game, but less strategic, and with no real penalty for dying. Mission structure is similar to Destiny 2, but then the occasional beast hunting mission is randomly thrown in seemingly just because the developers like Monster Hunter. Godfall is like a chef trying to create a new fusion cuisine that doesn’t quite work. It makes for one decent meal, but it’s not something that’s going to bring in repeat customers.
On a controller, the right bumper handles light attacks, while the right trigger is used for heavy attacks. Hitting a number of light attacks in succession triggers a “soul-strike,” a heavy attack that deals massive damage and kills most foes. But some enemies are more easily staggered by heavy attacks. Once staggered, a click of the right stick initiates a powerful takedown move that few enemies get up from.
With an evade move, parry, and a shield for blocking (plus throw attacks after a cooldown), there’s quite a bit of variety and the combat generally feels good, but it never feels great. For one thing, while you can lock on to an opponent by pressing in the right stick, there’s no way to switch targeting to another enemy. And it’s not uncommon to face down five or six heavily armored foes at a time. The camera also tends to just focus on Orin and a single enemy, leaving him open to attacks from other angles. And although Godfall’s combat appears solid initially, it reveals itself to be unpolished later in the game when enemies can quickly surround you and whittle down your health.
Release Date: Nov. 12, 2020
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS5
Developer: Counterplay Games
Publisher: Gearbox Publishing
Genre: Action RPG
But Godfall’s biggest problem is lack of variety. Sure, there’s plenty of loot, but only five weapon types: longsword, great sword, polearm, warhammer, and dual blades. I picked up many different weapons during my playthrough, and while a longsword feels very different from a warhamer or dual blades, I never noticed much of difference from one longsword to the next, aside from cosmetics.
Similarly, there are a dozen different “valorplates,” or armor sets that are unlockable over the course of the game. While they each look very cool, the only difference between them is a powerful Archon ability, and even then, there are only two different abilities. One initiates an area-clearing attack. The other one summons three allies. The only real difference is the elemental effect associated with each armor set. At least there’s a fairly large skill tree that offers a decent amount of customization.
However, the biggest offender is mission design. While there are three distinct realms with themes of earth, water, and air, missions repeatedly take place in the exact same areas, and rarely require more than following a waypoint to defeat a powerful enemy. Once you’re introduced to each new area, it’s time to grind a few of these missions to obtain the requisite number of “sigils” to face Macros’ four lieutenants before the final showdown with him. At least the boss fights offer a little bit of variety, along with substantial difficulty spikes.
Once you’re done, the only real reason to keep playing is grinding for better gear, but when everything feels so similar, there’s not much of an incentive to keep playing. Missions can be played online with two other people, but frustratingly, there’s no matchmaking at release, so hopefully you have a couple friends with a PlayStation 5 or a PC powerful enough to run Godfall.
Those beautiful graphics come at a steep price. At a minimum, Godfall requires an AMD Radeon RX 580, 8GB/NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060, 6GB GPU; an AMD Ryzen 5 1600/Intel Core i5-6600 CPU; and 12 GB of RAM.
I played Godfall at max settings on an ASUS ROG Zephyrus M15 gaming laptop with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q GPU; Intel Core i7 CPU; and 16 GB of RAM. There was some occasional stuttering, usually when initiating certain attacks for the first time on a level, but other than that, the game ran like a dream.
Godfall is an impressive graphical powerhouse. I just wish there was more to the gameplay. At launch, this is probably the best title to show off the PS5 or a new graphics card, but between the repetitive missions and baffling lack of matchmaking, this is a game with no real staying power. Godfall looks like a million bucks but plays like a budget title.