Godfall (PS5) Review

Lackadaisical launch looting

Don’t you just love new console launches? The feeling of holding a new controller in your hand, the joy of experiencing the interface of the system for the first time, and a whole new suite of games to play that really show off the power of your shiny new box. That is, if you don’t end up with what I lovingly refer to as a LALG…A Launch-A** Launch Game.

Every console launch has its share of LALG’s. The PS2 had Summoner, Eternal Ring and Evergrace. The Dreamcast had Blue Stinger. The Playstation had Kileak: The DNA Imperative. These are games that aren’t awful, but certainly come in short of expected levels of whelm. They exist in a space where new owners are desperate for something to play on their shiny new machine and pickings are slim.

MSRP: $69.99
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed), PC

Sometimes a LALG will really show off a new aspect of the system. The Wii had Red Steel, which was a painfully mediocre game that nonetheless showed off what the new controllers might be able to do in a better game in the action genre. Ryse: Son of Rome showed off how pretty the visuals were going to look on the next generation of Xbox hardware, while being brutally underwhelming in just about every other aspect. Genji: Days of the Blade showed off the level of detail the Cell processor could render on the weak point of a giant enemy crab.

The Playstation 5’s contribution to the long proud history of LALG’s is Godfall, a hack-and-slash looter made by Counterplay Games. Godfall really shows off the graphical muscle of Sony’s hard to find powerhouse with some tremendous looking effects and aesthetically pleasing environments. It also generally plays pretty well, but still manages to underwhelm in true LALG fashion with a laughably thin story, uninspiring loot mechanics, and boring gameplay loop. Overall, the few bright spots on offer here can’t escape the gravity well of the game’s all-consuming averageness.

The story on offer here, to the extent it exists, is a familiar one. Your brother is planning to become a god and end the world, and you have to stop him. In order to do so, you must first battle through his lieutenants and build up a stockpile of weapons that are increasingly effective at poking leaky holes in bad guys. If “get stronger and face increasingly difficult lieutenants in order to stop an enemy who wants to literally become a god and destroy the world as we know it” sounds like a familiar pitch, it might be because it’s so outstandingly generic that the Playstation 5 manages to have another (much better) launch title in The Pathless that features almost the same story. The good news is that the developers here seem to recognize that their narrative is about as thick as a French pancake and didn’t overdo the exposition. Honestly, the most effective and interesting lore in the game comes in the form of the descriptions of the weapons that you’ll pick up along the way, which are generally quite good.

Once the action starts the game behaves exactly like you would expect a melee based third person loot game would. You’ll use various skills (some on some pretty aggressive cooldowns) and combos to take down scores of enemies as you wander though levels accomplishing objectives. There are a host of different weapon types on display here, and each plays pretty different from the others. You’ve got hard hitting larger weapons like the great sword and the Warhammer, quick cuts from dual blades or the long sword, or the longer reach of a polearm. I found each of these weapons to be enjoyable in their own way but spent most of my time rocking a Warhammer and dual blade combo.

Godfall encourages frequent switching between weapons, with a skill in the tree called Polarity even adding some additional impact to combos that feature a weapon switch in the middle, and you’ll need to find your own favorite combination to effectively mow down hordes of enemies in search of that next piece of loot. The game also features a pretty innovative combat mechanic called Soulshatter, where light attacks against enemies stacks up a block of damage which can then be cashed in with a heavy attack. Finishing an opponent with this attack makes them explode into a burst of ash, which is insanely satisfying every time it happens. Generally the moment to moment gameplay works quite well, and is one of the game’s primary positives.

Regardless of the slick combat, looters like this live and die by their loop. Collect cool loot, use it to kill enemies and collect more cool loot, rinse/repeat. In Godfall, the loot never really grabbed me enough to push me along. Sure, I always love picking up new weapons with additional damage or cool sub-effects, but despite some interesting weapon designs there just aren’t enough unique aspects to the weapons available here to make each pick-up seem exciting. Another major flaw for a loot game of this type is that there is no armor loot to collect here, replaced with pre-designed full sets called Valorplates.

The Valorplates are 12 stock armors that your character can unlock by finding special materials in the various realms you’ll explore during your adventure through the game. Some of these are exceptionally cool looking, but cohesive design can’t replace the thrill of finding new armor piece meal throughout your travels. Couple that with the fact that one of the primary variations between armor styles, the Archon attack (basically an ultimate power attack unleashed after filling a meter), is limited to three variations across the 12 sets of armor. All in all the decision to go with these Valorplates instead of a more dynamic armor loot system feels much like the game as a whole, pretty but too shallow to have much impact.

Speaking of pretty, this game is certainly a looker. The environments are gorgeous and the lighting effects are very good (even if the overuse of light bloom starts to wear thin after a while). The visual design of the Valorplates and most of the weapons you’ll find along the way are almost universally appealing, and there are plenty of “next gen” flourishes here to impress any of your friends that want to see something running on your brand new system.

Godfall does feature a multiplayer component, so you and your friends can smash Lizard people and steal their worldly treasure as a team. The key emphasis here is on friends though as, in a completely baffling design decision, there is no multiplayer matchmaking or cross-platform play. In order to experience this game with others you’ll need to hope that some of your pals also got pulled into the LALG gravitational field.

It’s really hard to review a game like this. The gameplay is competent, at times even good, and it looks fantastic. If you want a visual showcase that will make your non-PS5 owning friends say “wow” when they see it on the screen you can get that here. The thing is though, the PS5 already has several games at launch that are equally as visually appealing (Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Demon’s Souls, The Pathless) while also being much more interesting and engaging experiences. It’s really hard for me to recommend Godfall with so many other great games on Sony’s machine at launch, especially for $70. If you love melee combat looters and prioritize minute to minute action over any degree of lasting depth or narrative impact, you may find some enjoyment here. For most of us though it seems Godfall’s ultimate destiny is to be placed on the “Oh yeah, THAT game” shelf with the rest of it’s fellow LALG’s.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

  • It’s pretty
  • The hacking and slashing is mostly solid
  • Shallow and dull
  • Valorplates are a nearly worthless substitute for actual armor loot
  • No multiplayer matchmaking
  • Story is tacked on and uninspiring
Written by
Wombat lives by the code that if you are playing a game from this year, you are doing it wrong. His backlog is the stuff of legend and he is currently enjoying Perfect Dark Zero, Skies of Arcadia and Pong.