Godfall Review: Repetitive Gameplay Harms Next Generation Spectacle
“Godfall’s dazzling graphics and promising combat are held back by repeated crawling in the dungeon.”
Useful skills and upgrades
Sparse dungeon creeps
Limited world design
If there’s one thing Godfall gets right, it’s a spectacle. The PlayStation 5 launch title is filled with the kind of visual dazzling you’d expect from a next-gen game. There are a number of hyper-focused graphics options that are designed to push the new hardware to its limits.
The early buzz around new consoles usually focuses on performance, putting games like Godfall in the spotlight on day one when they might otherwise fly completely under the radar. Return to every console launch, and it’s easy to find a long-forgotten title for launch day that maximized performance but otherwise didn’t leave a lasting impression.
Godfall takes advantage of the next-generation leap in power with its dazzling graphics, but relocates its promising combat system into a repetitive loot game where rewards rarely feel rewarding.
Less Fate 2, more Diablo
When Godfall was first announced, comparisons with Destiny 2 were immediately drawn. Part of this was due to the game’s marketing spurt that branded the game as the first “looter slasher” and focused on flashy armor that didn’t look out of place in Bungie’s space epic.
Perhaps the most surprising discovery about Godfall is that it is not a live service game at all. Instead, it’s more like a dungeon crawler like Diablo. Most of the game is spent on missions from the game’s small hub. Players knock down masses of enemies, collect new loot and discover resources hidden around the world.
It’s a repetitive flush experience that prompts players to complete a limited number of tasks (most of which involve hacking enemies) while circling the same areas over and over. For example, players often have to survive a wave of enemies for 60 seconds or kill 16 enemies slowly emerging from statues. Big boss fights remove the boredom, but they are only unlocked by earning seals that you get as you progress through more missions like this one.
Like any dungeon crawler, loot is the real catch. Missions are full of rewards, from weapons to equipment, each with their own perks. The constant flow of goodies makes it so that players can quickly start customizing a build. However, after a few missions, I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of treasure I collected. Even saving resources felt like a monotonous time commitment.
It’s a repetitive flush experience where players are asked to complete a limited number of tasks while drawing circles around the same areas over and over.
Exciting loot is only half the battle for a game like this. There is a constant accumulation of strength in the game, but few compelling reasons to demonstrate it outside of some high-level post-game activity. Godfall has a lot to play with, but not a lot to play with.
The weak gameplay loop is a shame because the combat has real potential. As with many modern action games, the battle revolves around light and heavy attacks. The main difference is that players use oversized weapons like hammers and spears. Every weapon has real weight, so every hit feels slower and more powerful than a normal sword swing. The downside is that players need to think more strategically about each hit, as too much engagement can lead to disaster. Every push of a button is important, which is rare in a hack-and-slash game.
There is also a heavy defensive component with a shield that plays an important role in combat. This can be used to block attacks, fend off enemies, or perform ranged attacks. Like primary weapons, the tool feels devastating and adds a real sense of power to combat. There’s a lot of satisfaction from tossing a piece of metal like Captain America’s Shield, knocking off an enemy and opening it up for a brutal takedown.
Every push of a button is important, which is rare in a hack-and-slash game.
This strong foundation will evolve as the game progresses thanks to a number of upgrade systems. There is a skill tree that adds more combinations and colors to the experience and equipment upgrades that give certain perks. In addition, the game offers 12 unlockable “Valorplates”, which are various sets of armor that the players can equip. Each has their own special perk, like shock damage or poison, which offers countless ways to create character builds.
Everything is successful up to a point. I found myself using almost every single tool in combat, spending a lot of time enchanting equipment, and changing my valorplate at every opportunity. But I still loaded on missions that felt indistinguishable from one another and mowed down the same types of enemies ad nauseum. I was all dressed and had nothing to do.
All strategies and nuances go out the window as the enemies become more numerous and the bosses’ health bars get bigger. It is becoming increasingly tempting to just equip a faster weapon class and light spam attacks to take advantage of it. The weighty battle could likely add some thrill to a focused set-pieces action game on a large budget, but it’s a disproportionate for a humble dungeon crawler based on loops.
The game’s design choices seem to take a back seat to the game’s technical capabilities. It’s a visual spectacle that feels like the video game at a Great Gatsby party. Valorplates are intricately detailed, particles fly in all directions and golden light shines on every surface to bring the wow factor home.
It’s instantly impressive even when it’s flat. As someone who is not that easily impressed by the visual flair, I was still amazed at the tiny details like gentle motion blur, as if I were a seasoned tech geek.
That surface sheen never really goes away, but the excitement is short-lived due to the game’s lackluster world design. Godfall mainly offers three cards, each with its own elemental flavor. Despite thematic differences and motifs, the areas are structurally so similar that they rarely feel like radically different environments. That doesn’t negate the impressive eye candy, but it does limit its tricks at times.
The underlying design decisions undermine the spectacle and bring the game of next-gen Cloud 9 to a standstill.
Console launch games will always be in a tough spot because, at least on a technical level, they are the most heavily studied games of a generation. Godfall is doing everything in his power to cause a stir, but it’s a short-term fix. The underlying design decisions undermine the spectacle and bring the game of next-gen Cloud 9 to a standstill. Once the color fades, players are left with a surprisingly easy looter that doesn’t feel much more complex than Minecraft Dungeons.
Godfall holds great promise with its stunning graphics and combat, but those high points are lost in a sparse dungeon crawler that briefly sells its strengths. It’s very different from what Destiny 2 clone fans expected, but this live service style may better suit its dedication to grinding loot.
Is there a better alternative?
Warframe is more effective than “Scavenger Slasher” and Destiny 2 offers the same next-generation grind with greater rewards.
How long it will take?
The main campaign lasts up to 8-10 hours, but dedicated gamers can spend more time hunting for rewards and completing a small handful of post-game activities.
Should you buy it?
No. There are plenty of better next-gen games out there right now, even if you’re just looking for a multiplayer game to try out on launch.