God’s Trigger is a stylish ultra violent top down shooter from One More Level and Techland that brings us an epic tale of the battle for humanity as an angel and devil team up to stop the apocalypse, as well as figuring out who from the ethereal planes have set it off in the first place. Designed for co-op or single play, if you were expecting a frantic twin stick blaster then you might be disappointed because there’s more than a hint of a methodical puzzler hidden in here, though that might not be a huge surprise given that it wears its influences clearly on its bloodied sleeves.
Harry and Judy are from completely opposite ends of the spectrum, literally. One a warrior from Heaven, the other a renegade from Hell, they end up together having to track and stop the four horsemen to prevent the end of the world from happening. Given their task they’re not lightweights and there’s a distinctly bloody trail left behind in their wake. Despite how powerful they are, they’re not invulnerable and it only takes one hit to stop them in their tracks. It’s up to you to use their different skills, perks and weapons in combination to clear out each area one possessed bad guy at a time, whilst also figuring out how to stay alive.
The top down view lets you see what’s coming up and where the next wave of enemies are, and there’s an ability to tag them ready to set a slow motion bullet dodging ballet off. As time slows and you glide between projectiles slicing, dicing and firing it feels awesome, but it’s not overused because it’s tied to an “energy” meter that prevents them being overpowered. The same meter is there to manage the special powers Harry and Judy possess too which are opened steadily as they progress and rank up. Full on direct combat isn’t necessarily the right way to tackle God’s Trigger when there are stealth and magic options available to help thin the ranks. In fact, some of the quieter options reward more than being flashy and loud.
Each level is presented in a nicely detailed cel-shaded fashion that quickly gets destroyed or covered in blood depending on which approach you take, and there’s a reasonable amount of choice in which rooms/areas to tackle first. Checkpointing is generous so that you’re never too far away from retrying once things go wrong. They will go wrong too given the variety of enemies encountered and the different abilities they wield. From cowboys with pistols to giant burrowing worms, the standard fodder gets switched up as you move from one horseman’s domain to another, and demands new and varied tactics to deal with them. God’s Trigger really does make an effort to give distinction in the environments and NPCs so that each new level is fresh and interesting.
Helping spice up the replayability are the RPG-lite elements that come into play as the characters rise through the ranks. Weapons and abilities have a structure that lets you select where you want them to be specialised, and these can be tweaked and altered between missions. If you have a favourite ability that you want to use more often you can reduce the cost of it, or choose to speed up weapon attacks, or improve the dash distance. There’s quite a few ways of combining things to make the characters more tailored to your. The higher the level Judy and Harry reach, the more options they get, and the more abilities they have to muck around with. Persistent perks are also on hand to provide buffs or bonuses, though each of these needs to be collected in a level before it can be used. Projectile weapons are found during gameplay and only exist in the levels, and even with those that you’d expect to be generic there’s a decent mix for various uses.
God’s Trigger’s story moves along at a steady pace and is told through static painted cutscenes that punctuate the boss battles. As with each of the settings for the levels, the bosses are unique and hold different challenges to defeat them. Typically they’re multistage affairs with trial and error elements and don’t tend to turn into overly long grinds to bring health down, but they do have some interesting surprises at times. Visuals and audio are nicely presented and it’s all pretty intuitive to pick up and play whether you’re on your own switching between the two characters, or have someone sat on the couch next to you that you can coordinate with. Having magazine collectables and secrets buried away in the environments, as well as the score ranking system for each stage, there’s decent incentive to retrace your bloody footsteps too.
Even though there’s a very heavy Hotline Miami influence in God’s Trigger (one that the developer doesn’t deny), it’s definitely a great game in its own right. Thematically it feels like what might have happened if Tarantino had directed Dogma after a heavy metal festival, there’s such a grindhouse vibe to it all. The fast paced action blends seamlessly with the trial and error puzzle elements, and despite your failures the game never treats you unfairly or makes you think that progress isn’t being made. It’s well balanced, executed with style and sold at a fantastic price. This is definitely one not to be consigned to the fires of hell.
A PS4 review copy of God’s Trigger was provided by Techland’s PR team, and the game is available now on PS4, Xbox One and PC for around £12.