Gods Will Fall is an incredibly unique experience, unlike anything I've really played before in the fantasy action genre. The straightforward but engaging combat is the constant throughout and is at the center of it all, but it's how the game's premise and themes are woven into the warriors you lead into each dungeon that truly sets it apart. Developer Clever Beans does a stellar job of setting the stage for their story in the game's introduction, and providing such a lush and surprisingly soothing overworld to navigate keeps the tension high when heading into a dungeon where a much darker world awaits you. It's a creative combination that very much won me over, and it might win you over too.
So, what is Gods Will Fall you ask? Gods Will Fall puts you in control of the remaining Celtic warriors who survived the journey that started with legions of warriors all sailing to the edge of existence to overthrow the evil and oppressive gods that have ruled over them for so long. Out of all the people that started the journey, only eight remain, and you'll take control of all of them at some point throughout your playthrough.
When I say all of them, that's literal, as you actually control the group as one entity when traveling the overworld which carries this quiet but somewhat breezy vibe as you make your way across it. When you find a dungeon, you hit a button to assemble your party at the entrance, and then you choose which warrior you want to send inside. Each warrior has different stats and weapons, and when assembling in front of a dungeon, sometimes you'll get a message about one particular warrior which can either be positive or negative. One dungeon had a warrior frightened by the call he was receiving to enter, and thus his strength and vigor (health) stats were in the red if he were to go in. Likewise, other dungeons can provide positive stats, but that is mostly tied to previous actions, which I'll get to in a bit.
Once you send your warrior in, you'll take down enemies and make your way through to the boss. To do this effectively you'll need to master the evade and parry options, because otherwise, you will die rather quickly. The parry, which is tricky to master, especially matters as you have to roll towards the enemy to activate it. The timing window feels quite small at first, but with enough practice, you'll get the hang of it. You will also learn how invaluable picking up weapons is, as once you fell an enemy, you can most times pick up their weapon and throw it at someone. This is something I did with just about every enemy, as it keeps the enemies at a distance and earns you a quick hit (or in some cases multiple hits) before exposing yourself to a hit.
If you do take a hit, the other major combat systems "Vigour" and "Bloodlust" come into play. When you lose Vigour from enemy hits, you can gain it back by dealing out damage of your own in the form of Bloodlust. Once you've gained enough Bloodlust, you'll see a red aura form around your character, and at this point, you can hit a button to roar and convert that into Vigour. Your Vigour is rather small, and you can suddenly find yourself taking several hits in a row if one thing goes wrong, so you'll need to do this quite a bit.
Now, if you make it all the way to the boss, you will kill them and walk out of the dungeon victorious, and your warrior will often get a stat boost and come out with some swag for the party which can include weapons and other useful items. The big catch, though, is if you don't, your warrior is trapped inside, and you'll need to send another warrior in after to complete the dungeon. If you do, you will get your warrior back, and they will even get a stat boost from their earlier work. If you fall again, you will need to send someone else. Losses will also have a negative effect on your party as they get discouraged or fearful, and their stats might take a hit.
For instance, at one point I sent in – I'm not kidding – four warriors into one dungeon and lost them all to an infuriating boss. The fifth guy, one of my old mace warriors, was the one up next, and I was able to slay the boss with sheer power and brute force. When they all emerged from the dungeon, a few got Vigour boosts while others suffered other losses and gains, and this was also true of the warriors who hadn't gone inside. We also got four upgraded weapons to dole out to the rest of the party and some handy items.
The best part was that the warrior who had saved everyone also got a bit of story development attached where he was so energized by what had happened that he just wanted to go in and do it again and feared he might fall to bloodlust when called upon again. That resulted in a nice boost to his stats, and crazily enough, I had to call on him again on a harder dungeon later on to save everyone. He then got a boost again from the experience since he fulfilled that desire. Each warrior can have things like this happen which not only keeps the experience fresh but also gives your actions and decisions weight while making the warriors more endearing and less like generic avatars.
There are a few issues, of course, starting with the bosses themselves. The designs are inventive, and the levels themselves are a joy to take in and move through with each one differing quite a bit from the previous stage. Once you get to the bosses, though, sometimes strategy is best thrown out the window. In several cases, it's easiest and less draining to just charge at the boss and start hacking away, hoping you deal enough damage to activate your roar and get that Vigour back. You've been evading and parrying the whole way through, but when you get to the boss fights, those mechanics aren't as important suddenly because you can't evade certain boss attacks and parrying doesn't always work either. This can (and did) lead to frustration and unnecessary warrior deaths.
The other nitpick would be regarding how the story is presented in the game. Once that (admittedly fantastic) introduction is done, you only get other bits of story through occasional notes and things you find in the levels. These are few and far between, and more often than not, they more add to the setting and boss you're facing as opposed to the greater narrative, and even then, sometimes they are too cryptic to really resonate. I would've loved to see more depth in these and more of them in general, but even as it stands, the world is definitely worth exploring.
Gods Will Fall delivers on its promise of being easy to pick up but hard to master, and the creativity in its complimentary gameplay systems and how they interact with one another completely won me over. You actually feel as if every decision you make matters whether that's which warrior to send in, if you should use that last item, or whether you should seek out another enemy to build up some bloodlust. All of those decisions can lead to failure or victory, and regardless of which you achieve, you'll likely be coming back for more.
Rating: 4 out of 5
A review copy was provided by Deep Silver for review on PlayStation 4.