Lochlannarg’s dungeon is absolutely nothing like a dungeon. It’s not even a burrow, actually. Outside, by the gates, clear water falls from one bronze urn to another in a serene overspilling burble. It’s virtually welcoming: a day spa. Inside, rivers of jade circulation through channels used in dark grey stone, in between little islands of swaying straw. Lochlannarg personally waits for at the top, inside a temple – I state personally, however they’re a sort of earless stone cat-monster captured in the act of having a bath. Maybe it actually is a day spa? Anyway, the stone tub is lofted by zombies. Lochlannarg amazed me, the very first time I fulfilled them, with lightning, which I was not from another location anticipating, and which eliminated me.
This is an unique video game. I am terrible at it, and it, in turn, is terrible to me, and yet I keep pressing on, going back to Gods Will Fall once again and once again. What initially looked like a muddle of odd concepts has actually solved itself into among the most appealing things to take place to roguelikes and Soulslikes in an outright age. Lochlannarg has actually made that lightning, if you ask me. And that bath. I am lured to slice some cucumber for them.
This is the story of 8 good friends who choose to eliminate a lot of gods. A celtic gang up versus a series of open beasts. The factor for this is quite basic – the gods are base and sorrowful and dreadful. Skeleton spiders and cabbage-winged moths with bony spiked tails, scary animals, each obviously unpredictable whether to dress for a day invested as animal, veggie or mineral, and each sat at the center of a moving dungeon of grimness and death. The good friends are procedurally rushed each time you begin afresh, and they’re dropped on an island that is house to 10 gods, all in requirement of an almighty shoeing. The island itself is lovely in its windswept craggininess, rounded barrows and stone entrances, cold beaches and tunnels of worked stone. The doors all offer a tip of the awful animal that lies behind them.
It is a stern obstacle. The 8 celtic warriors you manage are 8 lives, in essence, each with their own beginning qualities and weapon. You pick one – a heavy, sluggish person with an axe, perhaps – and you pick an entrance with a god beyond it. Then you enter and you and the heavy sluggish person with the axe attempt to get as far as you can, and ideally fell the god. If you do, then that’s one down, 9 to go. If you do not, the heavy person is now caught therein, and will just be launched when somebody does fell the god – and perhaps not even then. All your team caught? Game over.
A number of things. Firstly, I like the truth that the video game harp on the rabble characteristics. When you pick a warrior to enter, they may work their shoulders or bellow with self-confidence prior to rushing towards the dark interior, and their good friends will cheer them on. When the door opens after a run and it’s success, anticipate a little theatrical bowing, a little mock-dandyism. When the door opens and no one emerges? There appertains wailing. Renting of garments, heavy bodies drooping to the ground in shock and anguish. I have actually never ever actually seen this sort of thing in a video game prior to. Sure, this system binds a thicket of statistics – perhaps the missing out on celebration member provides a staying warrior a stat leave of worry, or an increase out of anger! But it’s likewise simply intriguing to see: it provides you more of a position in the market, as they state on Wall Street. It makes you care a little bit more, and dislike the gods a little bit more.
Secondly, getting to the god in the very first location is no picnic. Picnics are absolutely not part of this video game. Each god’s burrow is themed around their terrible nature, and each burrow will be crawling with opponents. Take the opponents down, and you deteriorate the god – you can see their life bar being broke away as you hack enemies to pieces en path – however even that isn’t simple. The most basic enemy can do a great deal of damage if you provide an opening. So what do you do? Take ’em on and weaken the god, or preserve your health and stealth your way to a more deadly boss encounter?
Combat sings here. Whatever the stats on your warrior, whether they are carrying a mace or a sword or a pike or something else, there is a weight and deliberation to light and heavy attacks that will be familiar to anybody who’s played Dark Souls. A flurry of light attacks might seem like a good bet, but just one counter can properly wound you. Depths beckon. A flash of light from a enemy is a tell that they’re about to strike, so you can parry by dashing straight into them – a move so simple and direct it requires genuine bravery the first few times you do it. Down them and you can do a ground-pound, if you get the positioning right. Kill them and you may be able to grab their weapon and chuck it into someone else – the sense of collision is wonderfully cruel and comic. Aside from a gentle nudging when you’re aiming a throw, there’s no explicit lock-on here, and its absence works boozy wonders. It gifts each encounter the inelegant windmilling brutality of a pub brawl – all gristle and flailing misses. For all its fantasy, Gods Will Fall can feel very real.
This all matters because combat ties into your well-being – yet more risk and reward. Lay on attacks and you build bloodlust, which can be converted back to health with a roar move. So each encounter really makes you think a bit – and the lower on health you may be, the more willing to take risks you might become.
All the method through to the employer! It’s not just combat, there is a genuinely creepy sense of exploration as you pick your way through these godly palaces. One may be an endless river, cockle-shells as doors and rusty grass. My favourite is a sort of warrior’s blacksmith gaff, pools of sparking red flame glimmering in the darkness, forges where you might improve a weapon if luck is with you, occasional doorways to the outside world where the sun is blinding and the wind is picking up.
From the fungal battlements and thick ropes of Breith-Dorcha to the rotting boatyards of Boadannu, locations are evoked with an art style that makes the rocks and stones feel hand-crafted, that flings seaweed with poise, and offers a little chilly grandeur, off-set neatly by the Bash Street Kids gaggle of Celts you’re controlling – all chins and elbows and spindly legs. The camera has a gentle buck and sway to it at times, making your adventures feel even more illicit somehow, an observer watching from afar with interest. The developers know when to move the camera in a touch so – yes! – that enemy is wearing part of a boat as armour, and when to pull the camera out to show bleached rock and stunted bonfires stretching into the distance, this moon shot, this Venusian tundra.
The gods themselves can be a brutal challenge. And yet sometimes, they can be a knockover. This is another of Gods Will Falls’ big ideas – random difficulty, ramping up one god on one run, and squishing them down the next. This is designed to encourage replayability, however it can make your first moments with the game deeply unforgiving. I love the sense of surprise it lends to each run, the sense of time passing and things changing, but it has warped the way I play at times, encouraging me to lead with my least promising warriors, sending the most useless on speculative trips into the depths simply to see what kind of fate awaits them. Ultimately, part of the game is concerned with trying to get your luck to line up with the game’s regular scrambling of the odds. It’s fascinating stuff.
Along the way, your team develops skills – one might be good wading through the water, another might be good at catching thrown objects, say – and find items that make things a little less brutal. Snuff? A shield perhaps? A full meal? How kind.
Progress was slow for me, particularly at very first, but Gods Will Fall worships at the shrine of Katamari in the end – kill one god and you end up being that much more likely to Beowulf your method through the next one and the one after. That said, stupid mistakes, coupled with plenty of opportunities to lob yourself into space and die, will keep you grounded.
And besides, the story, such as it is, your story, the patchwork story of this run and the next, is constantly shifting beneath you. I love Gods Will Fall the most when an unexpected death confers an unexpected stat boost that makes for an unexpected champion. At such moments the story bucks and resettles the method misconceptions and legends need to have bucked and transplanted in the limitless retelling. Fate is no longer a dice roll. It’s the needle and thread that dips and dances through the tapestry.