Official Review: Godfall (PlayStation 5)

By Ben Sellwood, Nov 23, 2020 (updated Nov 23, 2020) 5 3

Nov 23, 2020
  • Release Date (NA): November 12, 2020
  • Release Date (EU): November 12, 2020
  • Release Date (JP): November 12, 2020
  • Publisher: Gearbox
  • Developer: Counterplay Games
  • Genres: Action, Role-Playing
  • ESRB Rating: Mature
  • PEGI Rating: Sixteen years and older
  • Also For: Computer
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
    Co-operative
Action RPG genre gets its first next-generation outing with Godfall but is this looter-shooter worthy of its next-gen pricetag?
Ben Sellwood

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Fresh off the back of the PlayStation 5's UK release comes the first GBAtemp review for a next-gen (now current-gen) title: Godfall. With a cinematic introduction akin to a Hollywood movie, Godfall introduces us to a glistening world of heavily armoured Valorian knights and arcane magic. Set in some incredibly fantastical timeline where glowing neon cut-outs and golden embellishment adorn each warriors Valorplates, on Aperion's warzones: this game certainly looks the part but, I can't help but feel that it immediately raises a few questions when it comes down to logic and sanity. To begin with we see a stereotypically fractious struggle between two brothers, the valiant Orin and twisted Macros, with the evil victor of the battle leaving our hero for dead and sparking off this entire epic which could lead to total apocalypse if our hero does not prevail and should his brother, Macros, become an evil God.

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Aperion itself is a lavish fantasy land split into base elements with various monolithic and intricate scenery of differing stereotypical environmental types. The sheer number of items and objects on screen at any given moment is a clear step up from the previous generation and with a targeted 60fps in performance mode Godfall flows well while you trundle through each of the locales. The scale and grandeur of the environments are immense and I actually found myself just admiring the scenery and taking in the detail; moving back and forth to examine effects and textures as they happened. The landscapes portrayed across the three main realms are incredibly well realised and quite literally littered with detail across the board. From reflective metallic flooring and glimmering shiny walls to smoke and flame engulfed Hades-like lava pits, and watery Atlantean ruins peppered with corals and ice-encrusted scenery: this game covers all bases and shows off the diversity and skilled design it takes to put together what was at first quite a mysterious PS5 (timed exclusive) title. As is rather typical of the genre, you tend to encounter groups of two to eight enemies at a time, at various checkpoints within the maps, and this general flow is repeated and ramped up until you get to the endgame: a boss fight. The first of which is Solaris, a mechanical behemoth who targets you with laser beams and deals out hefty sweeping fire and flame related attacks. No spoilers but I really enjoyed this fight after the sparseness of the preceding level, though it was all far to easy to get through and beat. You also have to fend off waves of attackers at various points to secure your bounty before moving on to the Monolith in the Crimson Glades. Though the game is huge, it is far from sprawling, each section is basically a series of connected hallways or paths that you can opt to go left or right but you will end up in one of the interconnected areas anyway. It's a real missed opportunity to have a truly huge explorable open world rather than a maze-like series of options to push through. Lighting and sound play a huge part in fleshing out this world and bringing it to life, and there is a definite God of war feel here, with loot chests punctuating larger moments and huge boss fights along the way. The vocal talent has a very warm cinematic quality to it, and it should be noted that the story, though thin and obvious, is rather well portrayed by the actors and actresses.

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Loading times are next to invisible in comparison to the last generation. I'm utterly flabbergasted with just how fast everything loaded up and how quickly you can go back and forth to various places with minimal loading screens and virtually no graphical issues. I did notice a few graphical oddities along the way though, mostly to do with draw-distance pop-in and ambient lighting; certain assets could be seen from a distance yet their shadows weren't rendered until you got within several meters of them, and not all of them loaded in at the same time, which is strange. Given the number, if assets, textures and volume of effects on display in combination I have to say that these issues were very infrequent, and though I definitely noticed a few frame-drops here and there, there is nothing game-breaking and I experienced absolutely no crashes throughout my time reviewing this title. When testing "Favour Performance" vs "Favour Resolution" Configurations; there were definite stutters and lag to the "Resolution" mode, which seems to drop the framerate to 30 fps locked, rather than ~55fps average (60 fps targetted), so leave the settings on default!

Controls are strange at first, but make sense being as they are built around the new DualSense controller. Initially, I found it strange that you couldn't jump, I automatically went for the Square button to attack, and I wasn't keen on the triggers as my main attack buttons, but honestly, with a little learning curve: it kind of works. The gimmick with the DualSense is that the adaptive triggers give you the sensation of resistance. Using the R1 and R2 Triggers are light and heavy attack means that, when you get into battle, you can feel the force of your opponents strikes and parries force against your fingertips. During one-on-one CQB struggles in the heat of battle, you really feel the resistance, and you actually have to physically press harder to gain the upper hand against your foes, which is incredibly immersive and plays well in bringing some parity to enduring the gruelling task ahead of your character and you yourself becoming this hardened battler. The haptic feedback gives you more environmental immersion too with a rumbly-textured feeling depending on the surface texture, but it's nowhere near as pronounced or as diverse as I experienced it in Astro's Playroom, but it's still pretty cool.

Early on you realise that the Circle button is used for jumping and mantling though only in certain places. There are floating emblems that denote where you can hit Circle to jump across to a new area, and if these emblems are red then you cannot go there just yet, and something needs to be completed first in order to unlock that area. You also have your "spirit vision" on D-Pad left to track enemies and quest items, and a "quick turn" on D-Pad down to spin you 180-degrees which comes in handy for keeping enemies at swords length when surrounded. R3 can be used for simple takedowns once you have fatigued your enemy grunts into their final moments, though I only witnessed a couple of variations to this finishing move and it wasn't particularly stunning to behold, so I rarely used this feature. Pressing R£ and L3 at the same time activates your Valorplates Archon Fury, which is effectively a huge special move that decimates everything within a short radius and depending on your suit and buffs can net you back decent energy, vitality and XP rewards.

Playing the game singularly is certainly one way to do it, but with two buddies would possibly be the optimal way to enjoy this title. Why has the trend become teams of three? I suppose its to do with the screen space and how easy it is to track just 2 other people? I don't know for sure, but what I do know is that Destiny and Apex started it and this generations games like Godfall, the upcoming  Rainbow Six Quarantine and Outriders are going to continue this trend for a long time to come. I personally find it an odd number of players to buddy up with, because, well, it IS an odd number. Unfortunately, I don't have any other friends who purchased this title at launch, so playing multiplayer was not on the cards for me during this review.

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Godfall initially bestows you, Orin, with the Silvermane Valorplate armour set. Throughout the game, you unlock more whilst visiting the Sanctum and in order to unlock the next one, Phoenix, you need to accrue 5 Valorplate Cores and 50 Infused Jasper to obtain this new armour. One thing that baffled me, is that in using the Phoenix Armour, Orin seems to switch gender while wearing it, perhaps I got this wrong or misunderstood the whole thing, but I found it rather confusing. I assume that when you equip the Valorplate of your chosen "God" you effectively become them whether they are male or female. In total there are 12  Valorplates to unlock, which are loosely based on the signs of the zodiac, and they are as follows: Aegishorn, Armistice, Bulwark, Greyhawk, Hinterclaw, Illumina, Mesa, Moebius, Phoenix, Silvermane, Typhon and Vertigo. Each comes with their own Archon (Fury) ability which is controlled by a refillable status gauge, and each they have up to 9 augment slots in a "constellation" that you can customise. These are in turn broken down into four colours; red, green, blue and white, in order for you to organise Might, Vitality and Spirit buffs to enhance your armour with special traits. More intricately these augments come in uncommon, rare, epic and legendary flavours and have drain values that juxtapose your boosted abilities; it's like spinning four different shaped plates on four different coloured sticks while trying to graciously smash your way through the sparsely populated, funnelled dungeon-like environments. It does get easier to manager and understand, trust me it does; but to begin with, for newcomers to this genre at least, it feels like a lot of stats to comprehend all at once. Some suits are all-rounders, and some specialise in unique skills so changing valorplate to suit the mission at hand is highly advised to make your journey as smooth as possible.

In addition to suits and their buffs, you also have five weapon classes and crafting available to enhance your weaponry and items. The weapons can be categorised as single-handed (longsword), dual blades, polearm, two-handed (war hammer & great sword) and you also have constant access to a trusty arm-mounted shield which facilitates parries and keeps you covered in a tight situation. Crafting can enchant these items with various abilities and imbue them with handy features such as healing your team or powering up your special moves faster. Lastly, you also have a large 25 slot Skill grid to populate meaning that you can enhance your characters recovery, weapon timing, shield skills and more in addition to making your suit and your actual weapons more powerful. The most lethal combination overall in this game is a max skilled player with dual enchanted legendary weapons, a suit with maxed out augments, holding multiple legendary rings, amulets, banners, and trinkets, all with maxed out attributes. Phew; that was tough to describe.

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Godfall packs in a reasonable-sounding 18 missions, yet there is only around 12-15hrs of core gameplay. This instantly makes you think that the £69.99 price tag is a little rich for this kind of game, but if you consider Godfall to be a grower rather than a shower, you will probably find a heck of lot more value in any upcoming patches and additional content. This game has the same traits that Anthem once had, but with far less hype. The game shows so much promise and delivers such a lacklustre level of content it's simply begging to be expanded upon and improved by the devs. If you're into grinding and collecting the best equipment, then this is where your time will go, but if like me you're a point a to point b kind of guy, you'll smash the missions in no time. Destiny schools every developer exactly how the looter shooter genre should work, adding additional content and tweaks along the way, but it also started out a heck of a lot stronger than Godfall has, so get ready for me to drop a grenade here:

Godfall, in my humble opinion, should have been a free PSN title rather than a rather audaciously priced, £70 day one, game.

It just doesn't have the clout to demand this type of money, not yet anyway. There is a huge scope to make this title the leading looter shooter of this generation, however, it stumbles over its own ineptness to give us anything truly interesting to "explore", or anything beyond its own rather obvious storyline. There are no side missions, no characters you care about, and if anything, there is too much loot for you to even want to bother with crafting. I honestly forgot about the fact you could craft until a good few hours in. You get so many weapons dropped and so many powerups that there is no real challenge either. The bosses have an odd checkpoint health bar system that makes it easy to beat them should you lose a life, effectively you start the game again with a full health bar against their already hammered one, making it easy to resume the fight, but no real challenge as there are unlimited lives anyway. Overall Godfall is a graphically superb but underwhelming in the gameplay department, and no amount of incredibly detailed scenery or armour will ever compensate for that. Wait until its cheaper or better, a free PSN game in future before indulging in its disappointing day-one offerings. Godfall will remain in my collection in the hopes it eventually flourishes into the full-on all complete package experience it so yearns to be. Until then, I will be playing pretty much anything else instead.

Verdict
What We Liked . . . Looks stunning from every angle Loading times are minimal Cinematics and the character design are exceptional What We Didn't Like . . . A lack of side missions make this game underwhelming Excessive loot dropping takes away from anything special you find "Favour Resolution" GFX mode is stuttery in comparison to "Favour Performance"
8 Presentation
The incredibly intricate layering of textures and effects make for some truly nextgen feeling scenes and the character design and artistry is exceptionally awesome. There is a very cinematic vibe to this game with massive scenery, oversized characters and overbearing mission to hunt down and defeat your evil brother Macros. I like the overall feel of this game, and I absolutely respect the Valorplates and boss design for their stunning craftsmanship.
6 Gameplay
Starts out as it means to go on: repetitive. Perhaps I expect too much, perhaps I expect a little variation, surprise and intrigue; but sadly nothing here kept me gripped for more than a few minutes at a time.
6 Lasting Appeal
Hack, slash and yawn. On its own, this game feels a little stale. Multiplayer no doubt offers heaps more enjoyment with up to two friends joining your quests, but as a single-player pursuit, the repetitive grind of gorgeous yet sparse environments is just not endearing to this title.
6
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
Godfall is all style and no substance. The next-gen lick of paint certainly makes it an exquisite looking stunner, however, at its core is some lacklustre gameplay and some genuinely lethargic missions. The boss battles are exciting and momentarily engaging, and the art style incredible, but I'm left feeling more than a little underwhelmed and unfulfilled.
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