It's well-documented that one inspiration behind Godfall is a highly popular book series by Brandon Sanderson called "The Stormlight Archive." As I'm writing this review now, I look forward to the fourth book in this acclaimed series, which releases in a few short days. This high fantasy series is an extraordinarily ambitious and fun read. The content of said series involves a lot of badass battles in super-powered armor in an alien-like fantasy world. Godfall has a lot of these elements: it has the battles, the armor, and the strange world. Everything else, though? Well, it's about as mediocre as you can get. For such a great series to take inspiration from, Godfall feels more like a, well, Godfailure.
Combat, Loot, and a Deluge of Stats in Godfall
At its core, Godfall is a hack-and-slash looter. Players equip a suit of armor and find various weapons and other pieces of loot to equip, thus strengthening your character. There's also a few abilities and a skill tree of sorts, so you have elements of progression. Besides the gameplay itself, which comprises beefy, actually fun combat, everything else lacks depth and feels shallow. In other words, Godfall is a kiddie pool that aspires to be like the lakes that are Destiny or Borderlands.
There are only five different weapon types, and a player can equip two at a time. It's puzzling to see a loot-based game have such a lack in variety of weapon types. Godfall is a looter game, so one would hope there's a variety in the items you'll find. The severe lack of weapon types does lessen the enjoyment of combat some, but I'm at least thankful that the mechanics behind fighting various enemies feels fun. The sound and particle effects that emit from every swing add some extra oomph to attacks. More than anything else though, Godfall feels like an altered version of 2018's God of War, which had excellent combat.
Weapons like the greatsword feel very weighty like every swing is taxing Orin, your main character. The attacks are equally devastating. When using abilities connecting to each weapon type, you'll be met with an overload of sounds and colors that really pack a punch. Players can also dodge around the battlefield to avoid enemy attacks. The dodge mechanic doesn't feel as precise or useful as Dark Souls, but it's another element to consider whilst in combat. There's also a shield to parry attacks, so when combining all of these elements together, fighting enemies feels like a dance. When you finish a combat encounter unharmed, boy does it feel good.
There are other pieces of loot that'll help you survive said encounters, like rings and amulets, but they are just boring stat increases. I never felt excited to get a ring, a life stone (which is used to heal you), or loot other than weapons. They're just boring. And frankly, while armor isn't considered "loot," these are just as boring as everything else. I will say, armor does look very cool. The designs of these "Valorplate" suits of armor are outstanding and are visually unique. Like rings and such, they have stat increases. Valorplates also comes with one special ability that can be used after a gauge is filled up, but these aren't able to be used often. As a result, Valorplates, more than anything else, feel like cosmetics.
So much of Godfall's identity is tied to the armor, but it fails to live up to expectations.
Each item can be upgraded with the use of currency and Valorplate suits use augments to increase stats. If I sound like a broken record, it's because Godfall throws a bunch of stats at you, like increased critical damage, but provides very little else. The skill tree shows some promise, as there are several areas where players can allocate points to in order to unlock new abilities tied to your shield or weapons. In some ways, this again feels like God of War's skill tree. Otherwise, you are, yet again, left with point or percent increases of stats. It's enough to drive a man bonkers.
The Next Generation is Here with Godfall... Kind of...
Godfall actually feels like a next-generation showcase. As in, "Here, this is what the next generation of games will look like!" Godfall released on PC and PS5, and as such, you can consider it one of the first "true" next-gen games. That's not a bad thing, though. Godfall actually looks very good. It's certainly one of the best looking games I've seen, not just in terms of visuals but in the art design of its world.
The visuals are extraordinary. The detail is packed so tightly into the semi-open areas of Godfall. Split into three realms—Earth, Water, and Air—each area in Godfall has a theme connected to the elements they are named after. My favorite is the Water Realm, which has a deep-sea aesthetic and is filled with illuminated flora, rushing water, and ancient temples. It's astonishing to look at, and even more surprising how well it runs.
My PC has relatively beefy PC specs: it's a Ryzen 7 2700 with an Nvidia 2070 Super and 16 GB of DDR4-3000 RAM. Still, my processor and RAM could use some upgrading soon. Nevertheless, Godfall ran very well on mostly high settings at 1080p. There were a few frame drops in some more busy areas and during combat, but nothing that was frequent. The PC port is definitely going to require a decent PC, but at the same time, developer Counterplay Games did a bang-up job bringing this game to computers.
For a "next-generation" game though, the story feels so amateur by comparison. To call it a story would actually be an overstatement. You play as Orin, who had a tussle with his villain brother, Macros. Macros wants to become a God and destroy the world, so you have to stop him. That's the entire story. There's dialogue sprinkled during and between missions, but nothing lengthy or substantial. The writing feels bland, like it was an afterthought. Most of the story, if you're even interested in it, comes in the form of readable items in your Codex. Why bother, though, when Godfall doesn't make an effort to immerse players in their narrative? Bungie took a "codex" approach with Destiny 1 and received criticism for it, and it's much the same here.
Godfall | Final Thoughts
Looter games are just perfect for multiplayer. Most of the major ones, like Diablo, The Division, and heck, even Anthem, had matchmaking. So, when I heard that Godfall had multiplayer, I was excited. That excitement was squashed like a bug when I realized that there is no matchmaking. You can tag along with friends, but that's it. No joining groups with strangers at all. It's an extremely perplexing decision on Counterplay's part, and I think that Godfall would actually benefit from such an inclusion.
Playing multiplayer would keep me coming back, and so would some sort of post-game content. There is, thankfully, some post-game stuff you can do, but it feels meaningless when you consider all the other negative factors of Godfall. The post-game boils down to replaying a gauntlet of old levels, which grant loot and modifiers to change up the experience a bit. In the end, you fight a boss. Sure, you get loot, but what's the point when the loot isn't fun? Godfall is a one-and-done kind of game.
That's going to be Godfall's legacy, really. You play it once, and that's it. There's nothing to keep players coming back, because of the meaningless stats and loot, the upsetting, near useless Valorplates, and the nonexistent story. I hate to draw parallels to Anthem, but Godfall feels like a lot like Bioware's greatest failure. It's a game that should have had potential and certainly looks beautiful—and even plays well—but falters in every other area. But frankly, I feel like Anthem will stick around in the gamer's vocabulary while Godfall fades away from their minds.
TechRaptor reviewed Godfall on PC using a copy provided by the publisher. The game is also available on PlayStation 5.
- Visceral Combat
- Next-Gen Graphics and Art Design
- Unsubstanial Loot
- So Many Stats
- Valorplates All Feel Similar
- No Matchmaking