Don an armour of light and face formidable foes, in Counterplay Games looter-slasher.
A talking, floating robot-face called The Sanctum, hovers around in some kind of blue neon light, talking about how I have to craft a Valorplate, named Archon of Rebirth for my character Orin - to then turn into Phoenix, to be able to attack a new realm based on the four elements. At first Orin is a mighty man in shining armour, but only an hour into Godfall he turns into a woman, despite the fact that his voice remains richly guttural, as if borrowed from Optimus Prime. An hour after that I am back as the original Orin again and The Sanctum has now become my own personal Cortana, a helper who guides me through some of the most linear levels in several years.
Godfall is a mess, in a mythological sense. For the most part, I really do not understand anything, and the amount of names, items, types, races and groups listed during the first hours seems to be part of a brave attempt to distract me from reacting to how monotonous this game really is. Sometimes I also think the developer, Counterplay Games, actually succeeds in doing so.
This game has been marketed as a so-called "loot slasher" since it was first shown, and it is of course a rather silly thing. Let's not complicate this any further, shall we? Basically, Godfall is a merger between Monster Hunter and Diablo. Boom! You run around in ultra-linear corridors, hitting attacking enemy soldiers in the head with a huge broadsword (or axe), collecting the orbs and other items they leave behind. You can then use this to upgrade Orin and his weapons, in order to approach the ultimate goal, to overthrow the evil big brother Macros who is just about to gain god status and thus destroy the whole kingdom.
Counterplay Games is a 75-man team in Northern California that, through funding from the Borderlands studio Gearbox, has been able to create its "dream game", based on Unreal Engine 4. Counterplay Games consists of equal parts former Blizzard and Destiny / Destiny 2 developers and it is clear that they have tried to build a product here where the style and the routine of these titles has been used in the best possible way. The levels try to be Diablo III while the design breathes Destiny 2, which includes floating AI helpers and that kind of paladin of light knight armour that Bungie has pushed into its game from the beginning.
The battles are incredibly simple. Orin strikes by pumping the R1 button, switching to heavy attacks via R2, and avoiding the enemy's blow on X, using his shield via L1. The battles always feel heavy, there is enough successful physics involved here for the reward system of killing an enemy with a well-placed giant blow to work - and during the games' short campaign, it is possible to tailor both equipment and abilities.
The pacing is pretty good, too. You can of course sprint, you cannot jump (which is common in this subgenre - but always just as limiting and weird) and Orin moves quite gracefully to be as big as he is (in "male form" at least). The problem is rather that Godfall never feels like anything more than a lavish graphics demo. The world that Counterplay works so hard to anchor, feels paper-thin and tedious and the characters are perceived as difficult to like and impossible to relate to. The enemies are also monotonously stupid, Orin kills the same dark blue Macro knight with the same jammed-up plasma rifle about 670,000 times and the bosses are predictable and unimaginative.
The design is a wild mix between Arena of Valor and Destiny and although the initial temple is gorgeous with its extravagant gold corridors and the vast amount of ray tracing going on, it is easy to see that stylish design does not mean much if world building, the associated mythology and everything that populates it - doesn't feel alive and interesting. Godfall does not succeed in any of this, rather Counterplay totally fails to make me care about anything other than playing as fast as I can just to finish and thus avoid spending time with Orin any more, if ever.
I rarely talk about price when I review games. It always feels weird, in more ways than one. We rarely do this on Gamereactor in general. In the case of Godfall, however, we must do so, unfortunately, because Gearbox demands £70 for this, and it feels like a bad joke in my world. It's pretty - sure, even if Demon's Souls is prettier. There are plenty of light effects here, 4K textures and reflections that make one stop and stare, before rushing on to the next stupid, generic enemy. Godfall in that respect is quite reminiscent of Ryse: Son of Rome for Xbox One for its own part. It's gorgeous but soulless and monotonous, and quite frankly, it's hard to see it as much more than a bland release game that no one will remember in three months.