God of Rock is an ambitious title that looks to merge the realm of fighting and rhythm games together in a unique blend visually reminiscent of games like Guitar Hero. To quench your rhythm game thirst, God of Rock offers a solid pour of musical modes from its story-based Arcade, to its creative Level Editor. It also features over 40 original tracks, 8 dynamic stages, and 12 playable characters.
Adding to this is some nice fighting game flair as seen through increasingly difficult battles against the game’s CPU, or against players via Local and Online modes. It’s a novel concept, though after putting quite a bit of time into God of Rock on PC, is one that isn’t without issues ultimately holding it back from reaching the heights of other rhythm and fighting game titles.
Rock n’ roll tournament
God of Rock boasts a concept as creative as it is simple in that you’ll need to press buttons in time to various tracks of music to unleash powerful attacks on your opponent in addition to things like blocking your opponent’s jabs and kicks. If you miss a note that your opponent hits correctly, for example, they’ll be able to land an attack on you and deal damage.
Battle length is based not on the music itself, but until a victory is reached whether that be you K.O.’ing your opponent or vice versa. The longer a match lasts, the more challenging the rhythm mechanics become as they continue to scale in difficulty until a K.O. is reached. To aid you in this pursuit, fighting techniques like EX, special, and Super moves are incorporated alongside the rhythm mechanics.
As fun as this is, it can lead to some confusion at times, particularly with the chaotic string of notes thrown at you with some of the game’s “Hard” and “Very Hard” tracks. In the event you forget how to unleash these specials though, you can always pause and review the move list, which I both appreciated and ended up doing often until I finally had them memorized.
The game features 12 different characters, each with their own style and backstory in regards to why they’re taking part in these rhythm-based battles. Visually, character designs feel reminiscent of familiar faces from fighting games like Street Fighter done up in a Guitar Hero sort of style. The idea is commendable, but sadly God of Rock struggles to stick the landing cleanly and coherently, with its character designs feeling hit or miss in nature.
Character backstories all share the same common theme as well where the “God Of Rock” appears to each and convinces them to join his tournament based on some of the struggles they’ve been experiencing in their lives. This makes sense for some characters, like Queen or Rosetta, while the backstory for others like Kosaku don’t feel elaborated on enough, or feel a little strange compared to other characters, like the food-based motivations for Hilde. Perhaps I just don’t get it in the way I was supposed to, but I can’t help but wish Hilde’s backstory was as interesting as her aesthetic itself.
I’d even go so far as to say the backstories for each character and how they were convinced to join the tournament rarely if ever feel necessary in the grand scheme of things as it’s easy to forget about them entirely as you work your way through various battles against the CPU, or other against players. With all that being said, the main draw in God of Rock is its rhythm game meets 1v1 fighting style of gameplay. Unfortunately, like some of its half-baked character backstories, there are issues present here as well.
God of Rock’s gameplay blends rhythm game mechanics with a fighting game setup, with the goal being to best your opponent with your superior rhythm game skills. For those inexperienced with rhythm games, God of Rock may prove to be a little too challenging in nature as it features difficulty that continues to scale up over the course of a match.
You can start off with a track that’s marked “Very Easy” and end up reaching a point where notes fly in closer to a track that starts off “Medium” or even “Hard”. You can give yourself an edge over CPU opponents by scaling their difficulty down to Easy as well, which is nice. God of Rock also offers Tutorial and Practice modes where you can sort through the game’s catalog of tracks and familiarize yourself with them before diving deeper into Story Mode (Arcade) or battles against other players Online.
Performance wise, I played God of Rock on PC and had some serious trouble with it as the keyboard inputs, to put it bluntly, straight up don’t work. If you’re playing on PC, you really have no choice but to play with a controller if you want an experience that doesn’t make you want to rip your hair out.
After breaking out a controller and playing that way, I ran into other issues in regards to accessibility. Depending on the size of your screen or monitor, the notes can be somewhat hard to see. Not only can you not increase the size of the notes, you can’t increase the size of the grid, or adjust much of anything for that matter. What you can adjust include things like what button prompts you’d prefer (for example, Xbox if you’re using an Xbox controller), calibration, and input binding.
Accessibility features aren’t the only area where God of Rock feels lacking. While over 40 original tracks are present from a variety of artists including Marina Ryan, Tyson Wernli, Debisco, Fotts, and Whitetail, there are a number of tracks that sound surprisingly similar to one another. And even though I did enjoy many of the tracks in God of Rock (I’d say it was an even 50/50 of ones I liked versus ones I didn’t), compared to other recently released rhythm-based games like Metal: Hellsinger or Rhythm Sprout, God of Rock’s soundtrack just isn’t as exciting and engaging as it could’ve been.
For those about to rock
God of Rock has a lot of potential to be something unique within the rhythm game space thanks to its added fighting game flair. Bogging it down are things like its concepts not feeling executed to the fullest, with the end result being a somewhat lackluster experience overall. Especially when playing on PC; something that proved far more challenging than it should have been.
It seems like God of Rock would be better enjoyed on other platforms due to its controller input bias and some game crashes on PC. Issues with the game’s PC performance aside, its character designs can feel derivative and uninspired. Many of the strange backstory cutscenes for each character come off as half-baked and don’t add much to the overall experience as well. Not to mention, there’s a serious lack of accessibility features such as being able to increase the size of the grid in order to see the notes better.
With a little more polish, God of Rock may prove itself to be a worthwhile rhythm game title yet. Unfortunately, in its current state, it feels like more of a swing and a miss than a headbanging hit.
This review is based on a Steam code provided by the publisher. God of Rock launches April 18, 2023 for Xbox One, Series X|S, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch, and PC (Steam).
God of Rock
- Fun concept blending rhythm/fighting genres
- 40+ tracks, some are quite catchy and fun
- Some creative character designs
- Solid blend of modes
- Lacking accessibility features
- Character backstories feel half-baked
- Some uninspired character designs
- Not enough music variety, not enough "rock"
- Rhythm/fighting input blend can get confusing
- Less than stellar experience on PC