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May 2022

GODS Remastered

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Strategy
Developer: Robot Riot
Release Date: Dec. 4, 2018


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Xbox One Review - 'Gods Remastered'

by Cody Medellin on June 17, 2019 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Experience this true-to-original reworked platforming classic Gods for the first time with improved controls and frame rate, with save points and an extensive soundtrack.

Part of the puzzle when choosing to do a remaster is determining why one would be needed in the first place. For some, it is because the game is a worldwide classic, so seeing it in a fresh coat of paint would be a treat for fans. For others, the game was revolutionary, doing things that so few titles have done but was still an excellent offering. Then there are outliers, where the game may have been only popular in one region despite being available everywhere. This is where Gods Remastered falls, as the game was a hit in the UK but a non-factor everywhere else.

The story is quite novel mostly because Greek mythology isn't a standard setting for video games. As the narrative goes, four guardians have risen up to kick out all of the existing gods and take over Mount Olympus. Desperate, the gods seek someone to avenge them with the reward of a divine favor at stake. Hercules answers the call with the wish that, upon killing the guardians, he would be recognized as a god himself. Though the existing gods hope that he fails, they still agree to the terms, and Hercules takes on the task of completing his mission.

After the text introduction, you're taken straight into the game, which initially resembles platformers of the Amiga era. Characters are large enough to take up a significant part of the environment. To make up for that, each stage has some verticality to accompany the horizontal movement. The stages have many optional puzzles to solve, but you can ignore them in favor of finding the exit. Hercules can only attack using projectile weapons, but his lowly dagger can be upgraded to the point where he can throw three simultaneously as well as lob throwing stars, fireballs, or bolts of electricity at foes.

Interestingly, for a game from an era where difficult games were the norm, Gods does a good deal to balance out things. Each stage is bookended by a merchant, and the points you've gathered can be used to buy upgrades, including more health and weapon power-ups. The power-ups are permanent, so death doesn't mean restarting at the weakest state. If you happen to get stuck on a segment for a long time, the game throws more power-ups your way and gives you gems so you can warp to where you need to go. At the same time, the game doesn't hold your hand about what should be done next, and it'll punish you severely for trying to rush through things. It forces you to go slowly and take things methodically, something you'll learn to do because losing all of your lives means restarting at the beginning of the level.

There's some good level design, with enemies being placed in tricky spots and some of the optional puzzles being real head-scratchers. Admittedly, the puzzle design with levers leans toward trial and error, but that was par for the games of the era.

With that said, some of the design issues can be grating when viewed through a modern lens. Try descending a ladder, and unless you hit the down arrow, you'll simply fall through it and take loads of damage. Your walking speed is slow, and you can only jump forward instead of up. Most of the time, the jumps are laggy enough that it takes some noticeable time between hitting the button to actually jumping, but other times, you'll jump twice in succession. The game requires pixel-perfect jumping, so there are times when you think you'll make it but miss and plummet to the floor below. Attacking is responsive, but you can't do this while ducking. Get into a boss fight, and if the game feels like you're overpowered, it'll take away some upgrades to make it a fair fight. Interestingly, these issues existed in the original, but the advances in game design mean that these things stick out as nuisances rather than just something you deal with.

With nothing changed from a gameplay perspective compared to the original, it would appear that all of the remastering work has gone into the presentation. As with a few of the remastered games, you can click in the right analog stick to instantly swap between the modern and classic versions of the game, and the differences are quite stark. Sound-wise, the game is certainly better in remastered form simply because it has actual music playing throughout the levels. It would be a stretch to call it amazing, but it is certainly better than silence. One complaint is that Gods Remastered only has a remixed title track, and it is a shame that the original can't be found anywhere in the game. Meanwhile, the sound effects are also better in the remastered edition, as their balance is much better compared to the more shrill effects of the original.

Graphically, the verdict for which one is better depends on which part you're looking at. If taken as still shots, the work in remastering the backdrops and the characters into 3D models looks great; the backgrounds got some excellent details, like different wall textures and gems on the pillars that just weren't possible in the original version. Start moving, though, and it's clear that the animations of the classic were much better. Thankfully, the game has been redone to fit in widescreen for both the remastered and classic modes, but it is too bad that there's no way to mix between a new soundtrack and old graphics.

Your appreciation of Gods Remastered is going to come down to whether you're familiar with the original. By today's standards, the general movement and combat is clunky, and the enemy appearances can be considered cheap. However, changing any of this would run the risk of destroying the memories that old players have of the title. If you've played the game before, this will be a nice nostalgia kick. Otherwise, new players might be better served elsewhere unless they are really into retro titles, warts and all.

Score: 6.0/10

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