The 21st century has revolutionized the way we play video games. Titles like Mass Effect and The Witcher III have shown us what is possible when you give players a role in the development of their stories, and what it means to have those choices come with consequences. But what if unlike Mass Effect, you didn’t just have a role in directing a game’s story, but rather were entirely responsible for how it turned out?
This was the ambitious goal behind the creation of Gods Will Fall. This single-player hack-and-slash, dungeon crawler, dark fantasy action-RPG was developed by Clever Beans, a UK based studio that produced games like Wipeout Omega and When Vikings Attack.
In a presentation led by Clever Beans lead designer, Mark Wherrett, I was able to learn more about Gods Will Fall’s background and development inspiration. To be quite honest, the game itself did not look super groundbreaking for how ambitious it claims to be, but I found myself wanting to try it out anyway due to its unique design.
The premise of Gods Will Fall is that humanity is tired of their gods’ torturous reign, and are seeking freedom from their tight grip. To that end, a group of warriors sail out to defeat them, but their ships crash and only eight warriors survive. These eight survivors are the ones you will be sending into the ten hand-crafted dungeons occupied by the game’s gods.
According to Wherrett, there isn’t any set order in which you need to challenge these dungeons, although their difficulties do vary. However, you have no way of knowing in what way they’re different, or how difficult they are, and this will be the case in each new playthrough.
Gods Will Fall only lets you send one warrior into a dungeon at a time, which was what made me realize just how much importance the developers had placed in letting players make their own decisions. Each warrior does come with their own set of stats (randomized) and some unique skills to help with the choice, but you don’t have to take these into account at all.
Something worth noting is that each warrior has their own unique background story and character trait! I found this feature particularly interesting, because Clever Beans tied it to how each warrior performs in a dungeon, as well as their reaction to certain outcomes. I’m excited to see how well it translates in the overall gameplay when the game releases.
On the topic of gameplay, I wasn’t really impressed with what I saw of the combat system during the demo. Mainly because it seemed really simplistic despite there being some mention of it taking inspiration from Demon’s Souls. The dungeons are linear, and the player doesn’t really have much control over how each of the eight warriors develops (their stats are automatically allocated once a dungeon is completed). There is the option to “choose” their weapons, but it didn’t feel like there was a lot of depth in that decision because stats and skills need to be considered when making that selection. Wherrett did stress that the game is meant to get easier as the player gets more comfortable with the controls and fights, so they purposely did not rely on character customization, but I was still a bit disappointed by what seems like a very hands-off approach.
The footage shared by Clever Beans did show the loot and stats distribution system, and it even highlighted a dungeon tool that allowed the player to choose whether they wanted to risk upgrading their weapon or not. All of these features felt like they were reliant on luck, though, and I’m not sure if that is enough to make for an interesting gaming experience.
I will say that the dungeons themselves, from what I saw, have a lot of attention to detail. Each is carefully crafted to reflect their respective gods. This is a fun little treat for fans of Celtic mythology, as that is what the game is based around. I am a huge history buff and can always appreciate when a game goes the extra mile to be historically accurate. Wherrett even shared with us how careful the team was in making sure everything they added fit into the lore.
Overall, I can tell that a lot of love went into the development of Gods Will Fall. The demo served to highlight many of its good points: high replayability, a story-telling experience completely dictated by player choice, and unique dungeons that are interesting to navigate. However, there are definitely some areas of concern. The lack of ability to develop the warriors’ stats to my liking worries me, and some parts of the game felt rather dated. For example, when one of the characters is sent into a dungeon, the others wait outside in what Wherrett called the “Outerworld.” Despite this being the main map, there aren’t any enemies and you can’t really explore it, so it came off as more of a glorified home screen than anything else.
I hope that the final release proves me wrong and the lack of control over character development is really as inconsequential as Clever Beans claims. I would also be thrilled if they added more to the Outerworld through the use of DLC, especially since they mentioned during the livestream that future DLC with additional dungeons is definite.
Gods Will Fall will release digitally on January 29th, 2021 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC via Epic Games Store and Steam, and Stadia.
All screenshots are courtesy of Clever Beans.