Godfall Review: You Probably Won't Fall In Love

Godfall Review: You Probably Won't Fall In Love

Godfall is an okay launch game, but you won't want to stick around long term.

Godfall, the first AAA game by studio Counterplay Games, has the honor of being one of the PlayStation 5's launch titles. This, in a way, opens it up to a captive audience: as fans finish the new Spider-Man and either conquer or get conquered by Demon's Souls, Godfall, with its bright techno-fantasy world and promises of adventure and loot, may seem like a viable option. This means the questions facing Godfall are twofold: Is it good? And, as one of the few titles available to showcase a next-generation console, is it good enough to spend time with until more games come along?

Those two questions might seem redundant, but it's an important distinction. Launch titles have the reputation, rightly so, of being the games you play just for now, until the real showcases—the ones that got delayed or haven't been announced yet—appear in six months or a year. A good launch title isn't necessarily the same as a good game. It's quality versus the limitations in quantity, in the fact that very few next-generation experiences actually exist. Thus, good isn't necessary, really. Just good enough.

But first, let's tackle the first question: is Godfall a good game? Set in a high-fantasy magitech world of warriors and monsters, this is a hack-and-slash (and occasionally smash) third-person action game, structured in a format heavily inspired by "looter shooter" games like Destiny. Either alone or with friends, you play through missions of increasing difficulty. Ostensibly, these missions progress the story, but the real goal of play is to grow stronger, amass better equipment and increase your character's base power. Scripted story missions are interspersed with smaller, less bespoke tasks, hunting down monsters and the like.

At the game's core is a love of repetition, an insistence on fighting similar groups of monsters again and again, earning currencies and kitting out your character. Like in Warframe, you unlock armor sets for your character, themed pieces of shimmering steel that offer new abilities and also serve as base-level character customization, changing your protagonist's body shape and gender. But no matter what outfit you wear, the loop is the same. You'll pull out your best sword, spear, hammer, or axe and break everything you can see. Then you'll do it some more.

Games like this tend to thrive on either the strength of their core loops or the draw of their worlds. Unfortunately, Godfall has little to offer in either department. The combat is... fine. It's a cobbled-together bundle of all the trendiest melee combat ideas from the past decade, each simplified a little and mixed together into a combat system that is full of options but lacking anything interesting to do with them.

Like the Souls games, it has weighty, deliberate movements, attacks with static wind-ups and cooldowns that have to be managed both offensively and defensively. But unlike those games, there is no stamina bar or other limitation on how often you can pump out attacks, letting you unleash an unending flurry of, say, giant hammer swings at your enemies. There's also a guard-break meter, similar to Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, wherein if you do enough damage of the right type to a defending enemy they become vulnerable to a major counterattack that usually kills them in one go, as well as a system that lets you stack damage and unleash it all at once. As is obligatory since the days of Devil May Cry, there's a meter-based "limit break" mode that lets you unleash hell without worrying about taking damage in return.

All of these systems stack up to create a combat loop that is basically mindless. There are so many effective options, and so few enemies that feel legitimately challenging to use them on. The occasional boss fight is diverting, with some attack patterns to learn and exploit, but most enemies stagger easily or have clear, easily repeatable strategies to manage. In many cases, the obvious path forward is to simply use a large weapon to lock opponents in their stun animations until they die. It feels okay, with fairly responsive movesets and a steady increase in player power. But there's nothing to do with it all. It gets old, and it gets old quickly.

Godfall is very pretty... and that's about it. | Gearbox Software

The world, likewise, is so generic in its design and so minimal in its storytelling to feel like a non-issue. It's a blend of brightly-colored science fantasy and the Norse-stylized aesthetics that have been in vogue since the release of the latest God of War—a technicolor journey of the realms with elaborate armor and generic fantasy creatures. It's busy and leaves little to remember.

As for the story, Godfall has storytelling chops that make the first year of Destiny feel Dickensian in its narrative depth. There's just nothing here but proper nouns and vague declarations about the need to prevent Macros, your character's brother, from reaching immortality. The worldbuilding is nonexistent, with so little information about the history or shape of the world offered during gameplay that one gets the sense that the player isn't supposed to pay attention to the story at all, that it amounts to nothing more than an opening crawl to provide some scene-setting for the fighting. There's a lore lexicon, sure, but it's poorly written and barely more informative than the cutscenes.

So what does Godfall have to recommend it? Well, not very much. This is the answer to the first question. Is Godfall good? Not really. There's a solid foundation there, but the enemy scripting and worldbuilding would have to be fundamentally overhauled in order to make this a game worth following earnestly.

But is it good enough? Good enough to throw on just to ogle the PlayStation 5's nice graphics, see how fast everything loads and keep the thing from feeling underutilized? Maybe. There's a basic, gut-level satisfaction to mowing down rows of monsters. The quiet lure of progression. It's a game to throw on a podcast to, to passively enjoy the physics on your player character's cape and the melange of bright colors. As a game, I wouldn't recommend it against its competitors. But as a launch game? You could do worse.

While a bit muddled in combat design and pretty dull in world design, Godfall is a passable 3D action game. Under normal circumstances, you'd be safe to skip it, but if you need something to play on that shiny new PlayStation 5, it's not the worst option.

2.5/5

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