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Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Gearbox Publishing
Developer: Counterplay Games
Release Date: Nov. 12, 2020 (US), Nov. 19, 2020 (EU)


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PS5 Review - 'Godfall'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Nov. 26, 2020 @ 1:00 a.m. PST

Godfall is a next-gen looter-slasher set in a bright fantasy universe filled with heroic knights and arcane magic.

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Godfall is set in a futuristic techno-mystic society, where the world is divided into realms of air, earth, fire and water. Valorian knights are equipped with armor called Valorplates. Unfortunately, a group of knights has gone rogue, and instead of standing against the forces of evil, they are attempting to raise their leader to godhood. The leader of these ne'er-do-wells is Macros, who is the brother of Orin — the protagonist and the last member of the order who's willing to stand against Macros. This sibling battle has the fate of the universe on the line.

I'm not sure I could tell you anything more meaningful about Godfall's plot than "brother evil." The world setting and characters are shallow and unmemorable. The game throws out epic-sounding names and countless magical-future superknights, but I'll be damned if I can remember more than the basics. There's nothing to sink your teeth into: no memorable NPCs, and no interesting twists or hooks. Orin is barely a character so much as a series of pithy one-liners stuffed into a cool-looking suit of armor.

Godfall's marketing hype is pretty intense, but once you play the game, it becomes clear that it's a standard hack-and-slash title with loot mechanics. Each level basically offers the same thing: Go through a series of battle arenas, fight enemies and collect the things that drop after they die. There are the occasional side-quests, but they usually involve going to a place and either smashing something or collecting something. There are enough branching paths to keep it from feeling completely linear, but it's still a mostly linear experience.

The combat in Godfall is simplistic. You have a basic light combo, a basic heavy combo, dodges, blocking/parrying, and three special moves (two individual weapon moves and one "ultimate" determined by your equipped Valorplate). If you've played God of War or its ilk, you have an extremely good idea of what to expect here. It's a familiar pattern, and there isn't a ton that makes it stand out.

Rather than focusing on combos, Godfall wants you to focus on various mechanics that you can chain together to improve your power through solid aggression. Light attacks apply Soulshatter to an enemy, which heavy attacks then detonate for additional damage. Polarity builds up as you attack with a single weapon, and once it fills up, you can swap to your other weapon, which causes an explosion and boosts the damage of that weapon. Rampage builds up as you hit enemies and gives you additional damage as long as you keep hitting the enemy within a certain window. Enemies have breach meters that fill up, and when the meters are full, the enemy is stunned. These are the basic mechanics of the game, and all of the elements chain together.

I enjoy the modular nature of Godfall's combat design. It strongly encourages aggression and staying in the fight while also rewarding you for regularly swapping weapons and attacks. It prevents you from just spamming the same light attack combo over and over by giving you shiny flashy effects and tons of damage. The only real flaw is that it also makes character builds feel the same. While the weapons have different attributes, you'll focus on the same rough pattern of abilities, but with some slight variations. Daggers are better at building rampage, but they're not as good at breaking breach meters, while heavy weapons are the opposite. You'll want to switch between all of them, though.

Godfall shines in its combat. The weapons all have satisfying weight and impact, the animations look cool, and the game feels satisfying to play. Parrying an oncoming enemy's powerful attack, darting forward to unleash a deadly sword combo, and swapping weapons to cause an explosion that stuns everything around you feels exactly as epic and awesome as it should. This doesn't last forever, as the simplicity of the combat system becomes more apparent, but the game feels satisfying, so you'll probably get a fair way into the game before you realize you're basically doing the same thing regardless of the enemy you're facing or the weapon you're wielding.

That is the crux of the problem. Godfall feels pretty darn good for the first few levels, but once you get further into the game, you'll find that you've seen pretty much everything it has to offer. Environments feel the same, enemies feel the same, and you even fight the same bosses again and again. This isn't exactly new to Diablo­-style loot collection, and it doesn't have to be bad, but it's where the other serious problem crops up: Godfall's loot system is boring. The game throws tons of items at you, but most of them are slightly different variations on the exact same thing with little to make them stand out. Even the most epic loot in the game feels pretty middling, and aside from the brief thrill of getting a rare item, you're effectively left feeling the same. You get stronger, but there's no genuine sense of, "Wow, this really feels different," either in power or in effects. The most significant equipment in the game are the Valorplates that you can craft, but they're relatively rare.

To its credit, Godfall looks really nice. The environments are largely beautiful, and the biggest flaw I can think of is an overabundance of bloom lighting in some situations. The character models look cool, and despite being mostly variations on armored knights, there is a ton of variety between them. For the most part, it runs smoothly on a PS5, but I did encounter slowdown in some of the busier areas of the game, which is disappointing for a launch title on a next-gen console. The voice acting is firmly in the realm of acceptable, bombastic and epic, but it lacks much in the way of depth. I approve of how Orin's voice changes depending on the armor you equip, though.

At the end of the day, Godfall is a game with a dull story, boring world, uninteresting loot, and simplistic combat, but it looks pretty and feels nice to play. It's not a bad game for a quick playthrough, but it's not something that is going to keep your attention for very long, despite theoretically being designed for loot-grinding fun. Considering the new game price of $70, it's difficult to recommend Godfall, even if you're very hungry for a new game for your PS5. Once it comes down in price, it'll be easier to justify picking it up for a mindless hack-and-slash weekend, but at the moment, it doesn't do enough to really be worthwhile.

Score: 7.0/10

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