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Godfall art.
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Godfall review

Stylish brawler rarely upsets, but never fully satisfies.

(Image: © Gearbox)

Our Verdict

A pleasant, samey slasher that may bore your digits while making your GPU sweat.

Need to know

What is it? A mix of Destiny and Dark Souls
Expect to pay: $60/£50
Developer: Counterplay Games
Publisher: Gearbox Publishing
Reviewed on: RTX 3080, i9 10900k, 32GB RAM
Multiplayer? 1-3 players
Out: Now
Link: Official site

There's something comforting in The Hell Year of 2020 about playing a videogame that's unashamedly straightforward. During a time where we all need 'chill out and forget the world is on fire' forms of entertainment, Godfall is often the stress-free tonic my shredded nerves need. It might not be sophisticated, and it certainly lacks soul, yet I can get behind the sort of 'brain-free' fun this third-person brawler serves up. Well, sometimes. 

Welcome to Godfall: A routinely inoffensive, sometimes likeable adventure that’s impossible to love. When a game is diverting enough that it stops me from having an existential crisis every 20 minutes, but also accessible enough I don’t need to YouTube six separate guides to get past the tutorial, that's a win in my pea-brained book.

Despite its shortcomings, which I'll get to, there aren’t too many things about this self-proclaimed "looter slasher" that actively grind my gears. The chief complaint? There's too much repetitive busywork involved in finishing a game that’s a fairly straightforward mix of generic hack-and-slash action spliced with boss rush elements.

Godfall screenshots

(Image credit: Gearbox)

The high fantasy setting and simple loot system might be derivative, but Godfall is rarely outright objectionable. The story—mostly told through stiff cutscenes where your knight chats with a big floaty face and a hooded blacksmith in a between-missions hub area—is one-note and easily skippable. 

Marcos my words

You play a powerful being who's locked in a seemingly eternal ruckus with their brother Marcos. Said bro is obsessed with the idea of ascending, and it's your job to battle through the realms of Earth, Water, and Air to stop him from reaching deity-like status. How do you stop this godly rise to power? By killing hundreds of Marcos' cronies and half a dozen of his most trusted lieutenants, who naturally act as bosses throughout the campaign.

Godfall is a game that does its level best not to get on your bad side. Clearly inspired by both From Software’s library and PS4's God of War reboot, its flashy third-person sword and shield scraps love to empower you at every turn. Yet unlike Dark Souls or Sekiro, Godfall is terrified at the prospect of rubbing your nose in failure.

While I've sunk half a dozen lives into a few of its bosses, there’s never been a moment that slapped me around with the savage level of challenge of, say, Sekiro's Guardian Ape fight. For a dude in his mid-thirties with a rapidly retreating hairline, I’m not overly complaining about the largely obstacle-free flow of progression. Still, the lack of a meaningful challenge throughout most of Godfall's 10 hour campaign means it’s easy to mentally check out of many of its skirmishes

Godfall screenshots

(Image credit: Gearbox)

Maybe this is because it's normally not that difficult, but combat in Godfall is usually agreeable. A lot of its inherent hassle-free appeal comes down to animation. In motion, this is one seriously handsome game. Be it operatic dodge maneuvers that slightly differ depending on which of the 12 classes you’re playing as, or the bloodthirsty thrusts that power its array of blades and hammers, Godfall's battles rarely look less than graceful.

Act of Valor(plate)

The variety of weapons are probably the biggest selling point. When it comes to classes, the dozen types of Valorplates you can unlock and equip boil down to a series of fancy armor sets with slightly differing status effects. No matter how pretty the gear, it doesn’t overly shake up how fights play out. 

That's not the case with Godfall's weapons. Though you can breeze through most fights as long as you remain relatively sharp, your choice of sword or other pointy implement of destruction definitely impacts how much fun you have during a brawl. Greatswords, dual blades, and warhammers all sport drastically different animations and effective damage ranges. And it’s only by mixing and matching between your knight’s two weapon slots that you get a feel for what fits your natural playstyle.

Godfall screenshots

(Image credit: Gearbox)

Spear-like polearms favor more cautious players who like to strike from range, while hammers can serve those who seek care-free destruction. Godfall spits new weapons out every few minutes. Killing foes and opening plentiful chests throws a constant conveyor belt of fresh goodies your way, all of which sport increasingly lofty numbers. It means you’ll likely settle on a particular favorite class of weapon, without a single blade or spear ever winning your long-term affection. At least the names are great—Renzai the Man-Catcher and Reher’s Shame are my current faves. I don’t quite know what the latter did, but naughty Reher! 

To its credit, Godfall’s combat throws up a couple of unique ideas that help spice up the often predictable action. Polarity attacks are a good example. This unlockable skill encourages you to swap out your main weapon for another once it’s fully charged, whereby your second sword gets a damage output boost for the next 30 seconds. It’s a cute system that rewards impromptu experimentation.

Shatter of fact

Shatterfall is another gameplay wrinkle which prompts you to think on your feet. Like Sekiro, enemies have a stagger bar that temporarily stuns them once you top it out. In Godfall's case, the game wants you to fill this meter by using light attacks. Resist breaking out your heavy blows in favor of a string of less powerful attacks, and when the Shatterfall bar fills, you can instantly kill the beastie in front of you with a single heavy blow. It's a clever risk vs reward feature that's only let down because most fights are too easy to fully squeeze the most out of it.

Godfall screenshots

(Image credit: Gearbox)

It's also a pity there's so much damn grind. During at least three points in the hardly lengthy campaign, you're forced to repeat previous missions and raid-lite Hunt quests to gather magic MacGuffins, called Sigils. Earning a vaguely obnoxious predetermined amount of these earns you the 'privilege' of fighting a boss. That these showpiece, usually exciting big bad encounters take up a whole lot less time than the grindy fetch quests that precede them is both backwards game design and shameless padding.

Performance

On my i9 10900k and RTX 2080—hardly a standard setup, I know—there’s enough next-gen graphical bells and whistles here to compete with any of the PS5 or Xbox Series X’s launch offerings. There are technical faults, though. Regular (albeit slight) hitches blight gameplay whenever your armored deity busts out finishers of certain heavy attacks.

No matter what resolution I play at, be it 900p or 4K, I can’t get rid of these split second bouts of stutter. The vast majority of the time I happily run Godfall at 1440p at well over 60 fps, yet these currently unavoidable frame rate hiccups definitely cause mild distractions.

In Godfall's defense, hoo-boy are these some pretty quests. While the art direction might not be to everyone's taste—it's both super shiny and oh so saturated, no matter how much you tone down your monitor’s color settings—this is an undeniably striking game. Killing goblin-like creatures and armored fantasy beasties across opulent courtyards or regal gardens peppered with glistening cherry orchards is certainly easy on the eye.  

If you’ve recently dropped the savings-ruining end of a grand on an Ampere graphics card, or are planning to invest in AMD's Big Navi line, there aren’t many games I can think of that will give your shiny new GPU a better workout than Godfall. As gorgeous as it is lacking in imagination, there's no denying the technical craft on show here. 

Godfall is a perplexing game. Though the grind needled at me, I never came close to putting the pad down. I’d recommend playing the three player co-op to cut down on the repetition, but bafflingly, Godfall's multiplayer doesn’t support online matchmaking. Gorgeous, hollow, and rarely abrasive, this is an affable big budget game that pleases the eyes but rarely stimulates the brain or fingers. 

The Verdict
Godfall

A pleasant, samey slasher that may bore your digits while making your GPU sweat.