Bullet hell shooters have always been known for their brutal difficulty, but OverPowered Team's Godstrike takes things up another notch. The game sees you go head-to-head against many different imposing bosses 1v1, and it sets itself apart from other entries in the genre, as it has a unique mechanic where your life bar is directly linked to a time limit. It's certainly not one for the faint of heart, so if you find yourself slamming your controller against the wall at the slightest blip of a challenge, then it's perhaps best that you look elsewhere.
As I touched upon earlier, Godstrike introduces an extra element of pressure as your health is connected to a slowly ticking timer. Your health still drains from getting hit by projectiles though, so you'll need to act both swiftly and carefully to avoid taking damage. Once your health/timer is fully depleted you're able to take one last hit and then it's game over and you have to start again. This mechanic I really liked on paper, but for me, it resulted in the game feeling far too frustrating. Surviving against a three or four phase boss is challenging in itself, but you're encouraged to rush in the face of many incoming projectiles.
To help combat the hair-pulling difficulty there is an Easy Mode, but this can only be selected once you have fallen at least three times to a boss. The Easy Mode doesn't exactly make things that much simpler either, as the only difference is that it allows you to take three free hits. These additional hits don't last too long either when you're being bombarded by projectiles, which to be honest, makes the inclusion of this mode feel pretty pointless.
I do have to say though that the bosses are well designed and they certainly keep you on your toes by switching up their attack patterns across three to four different stages. Drakhul, the game's third boss, was a standout for me due to how distinctive each of its individual stages felt. The first stage sees you take on a giant rib cage that pulsates out projectiles and then after that you're fighting a floating skull that tries to stomp you into the ground and push you into pools of lava. Each boss requires you to carefully study its move set and manage your time effectively, and it's highly unlikely that you'll prevail on your first try.
As well as your standard projectiles, you also have a range of active and passive abilities. These active abilities can be mapped to different buttons and they can be used to get you out of a tricky spot, by buffing your attacks or providing you with temporary protection. The Time-lapse ability, for example, temporarily slows down enemies and their projectiles and the Overload ability enables you to shoot projectiles in a cone of four for a limited period. There are up to four passive abilities that you can equip on top of this too that give buffs like improving your overall speed.
Personally I liked how all of these passive and active abilities require you to be tactical when selecting, as some can prove more effective against some bosses than others. There is a significant drawback though to the active abilities. Using an ability sacrifices part of your time/health and you can't activate one without gathering up glowing blue orbs that occasionally spawn in the battle arenas. With projectiles flying everywhere and with my health slowly trickling away, I found myself avoiding these abilities completely, which is a shame as many of them are certainly handy if used at the right moment.
Something that I was impressed to see was that there's a variety of different modes present. There's an Arena Mode, where you can fight each boss at your own leisure with all the abilities unlocked, and there's a Story Mode that has a very paper-thin narrative and sees you progress in a more linear fashion. In addition to this, there are also leaderboards where you can compete against the community to take down bosses in the fastest time possible and daily challenges that shake up the gameplay loop in exciting ways daily, for example, by pushing you to play with one less passive ability.
Despite having an intriguing mechanic at its core, I found Godstrike to be too punishingly difficult to be enjoyable, and I likely would have abandoned it much earlier on if I wasn't responsible for this review. Having your health bar tied to a time limit makes the already challenging action even more unbearable, and the Easy Mode does little to help matters. It does have a few positive aspects such as its well-designed bosses and its wealth of different modes, but I wouldn't give this a recommendation, unless you're intent on torturing yourself.