Set in a high fantasy world, Godfall brings a lot to the table. A beautiful world, unique enemy designs, and mechanics inspired by iconic series like Monster Hunter seems like the perfect mix for a great action RPG. Unfortunately, Counterplay Games never manages to grab the player, and what could have been a world teeming with beauty and potential becomes more of a rambling, shallow experience.
Ramblings on a page
In Godfall, players take control of Orin, one of two powerful brothers. Orin’s brother, Macros (yes, like the computer shortcuts) has cast his brother out, supposedly killing him by throwing him into the ocean. This battle is the opening cutscene for the game, and aside from a few mentions of Macros betraying their trust in him, the inciting incident is never really explained at all throughout the game’s cinematics or even the pieces of lore that can be found throughout the different biomes you explore.
Inspired by fantasy stories like The Stormlight Archive, the Foundation series, and The First Law, Godfall had a lot of room to engross players in a beautiful world teeming with glory. Unfortunately, Counterplay makes quite a few stumbles early on, and just like Orin in the opening cutscene, the storytelling falls right off the ledge with him. Sadly, it never manages to find its feet, and thus continues in a freefall throughout the entirety of the game.
The story in Godfall is such a disjointed mess that you could tell me the developers didn’t have time to finish it and I would believe you. There’s so much that just doesn’t make any sense from a player perspective. One big issue I noticed in the opening levels was a huge problem with continuity. As players get used to Orin’s powers and the controls, he talked with a couple of other Valorians. However, after that first mission, these Valorians seem to just vanish without any kind of resolution as to what happened to them or where they’ve gone. It’s almost as if the game is saying we shouldn’t care about anyone but Orin and that eventual fight with Macros that we have to work back up to.
Have you ever played an RPG and come across a journal with text on it that just doesn’t tell the whole story or really make any sense? Godfall feels like one of those pages. Something that you just come across in a side quest and then forget later on.
Shining like a jewel
If there’s one thing I will say about Godfall is that the game is absolutely beautiful. The world, the enemy design, and the way that the environments just pop is fantastic. The armor shines bright as you move through combat, and the sound design really helps to tie it altogether. Regrettably, that beauty is only skin deep, and what could have been a spectacular world to explore fills empty and devoid of any real substance.
Sure, there are secret chests and things like that hidden around, but this is a looter-shooter, and that means you’re going to spend a lot of time collecting a bunch of junk that you don’t need. The world is simply there to fill it with useless trash that you’re just going to Salvage the next time you head back to the Sanctum, the game’s main hub area. You can explore parts of the world in an open-world-like mission, but there’s not really much sense in it unless you’re just fiending for materials or useless loot that you want to collect.
Which brings me to my next point, the loot system. Designed by developers who have worked on past looter-shooters, Godfall focuses very heavily on loot. Chests and even enemies drop loot constantly, from crappy Common items to less crappy Uncommon gear. But, if you really want to get your hands on the good stuff, you’re just going to need to play through the Hunt missions, which basically let you face off against the game’s minibosses again and again.
If you like repetitive games that keep you doing the same thing over and over, then you’ll probably feel right at home in Godfall. You can also upgrade your gear to a degree, and even enchant it and raise its rarity level, but I never really found much reason to do that while playing through the game on Normal difficulty. There’s no real reason to change things up unless you just prefer the way a certain weapon plays.
Each of the weapons feel different, catering to various playstyles, but aside from experimenting, there's really no reason to change up the weapons that you're using. While hammers might give you more damage with each hit, most enemies move too quickly to make the most of these weapons, and the amount of unblockable attacks you have to dodge in later battles becomes quite an annoyance when using slower moving weapons.
There are also different sets of Valorplate you can play as, which act like the Warframes from Warframe. Unfortunately, the only real difference I noticed between Archons was their Archon power, which is like an Ultimate. I actually spent most of my time in the game playing as Phoenix, which was the first Archon I unlocked after the default one.
A looter-shooter that doesn't care about the loot
After you complete the story, you can continue playing through various endgame activities like the Tower of Trials, which basically acts like any wave-based tower system in any RPG ever. You fight various hordes of enemies across multiple levels, surviving as long as you can. It's fun enough for the first couple of levels, but the lack of any real reason to gather loot causes the desire to continue to fade very quickly. You'll also unlock something called Dreamstones after you complete the campaign. This basically acts like the Hunt missions, which send you out into the world to track down the various minibosses that you've already defeated at least a dozen times at that point. It's fun for the first couple of sessions, but the modifiers don't really add much to the experience, and the lack of any special loot makes it all meaningless anyway.
It's this lack of care for the loot that makes Godfall feels so weird as a looter-shooter. Where other looters like Destiny 2 and The Division 2 are constantly challenging players to gather new gear, Godfall gives players the gear they need through the main missions and never requires you to think outside the box to find anything special.
Godfall could have been a great game. The world is beautiful, the looter-shooter nature of the gameplay feels good despite the loot not really being all that important. Combat is another huge plus, and while not the deepest that you’ll ever see in a game, pulling off powerful combos does feel really good. I could even overlook the mess of a story if the world had been fully realized. Instead, the gameplay boils down to loading into Hunt missions and gathering Sigils to unlock new boss fights that will allow you to move up to the next region (of which there are three, Earth, Water, and Air). There’s no challenge or push for the player to go out of their way and that’s a real shame.
Despite early concerns about how generic it might be, I had really hoped that Godfall would turn out to be a great game to help usher in the next generation of gaming. Unfortunately, what might have looked like a fine jewel in the glint from your flashlight is really just a shiny piece of glass that leaves a lot to be desired. If you want a fairly mindless RPG experience that offers some different weapons and gear to mess around with, then Godfall will give you at least a few hours of fun. Just don’t expect a fantasy story worthy of its inspirations, or a world that fully explores its potential and you’ll be fine.
This review is based on a PC code provided by the publisher. Godfall will be available on PC and PlayStation 5 exclusively on November 12, 2020.
- Stunning graphics and visuals
- Fun combat and combo system
- Unique enemy design
- Spectacular sound design
- Story is a mess
- World feels wasted and empty
- No real reason to collect loot outside of main missions
- Too many repetitive battles
- Endgame is lackluster
Josh Hawkins posted a new article, Godfall review: Beauty is only skin-deep
Gaaa, oh well, one less backlog game
Yeah. Definitely not a full-price game at all. Might be worth it if they update it a lot, but ehhhh
yea this was always going to be a "maybe later, on sale" kind of game for me.
So funny that a 7 is a mediocre game. Scores are stupid. This should be a 5 from the way it reads. I remember when a 5 in a gaming magazine meant "maybe it's for you, maybe it's not, but it's not terrible". Now a 5 might as well be the zero baseline.