Coming from Clever Beans, the Manchester based studio behind WipEout Omega Collection and When Vikings Attack, are bringing us something a bit different in early 2021. A Rogue-like dark fantasy game that pits a band of fearless warriors against a series of not-so-benevolent beings on a mysterious island, Gods Will Fall sounds intriguing. Recently we got the chance to be talked through the game by the lead designer Mark Wherrett and see it all in action after the last two years of development. Pitting small scale heroes against large scale creatures and allowing emergent story telling to take over, could this be the first essential gaming purchase of the new year?
Gods Will Fall sounds like a simple tale of subjects becoming tired of being ruled by the arrogant and entitled. Sure, they might have created the lands in which the denizens live, but their needless cruelty or ambivalence has taken its toll. Fighters from across the land have come together to an island that acts as the portal to each God, and will aim to conquer each in combat. The only catch is that to get to their targets they have to fight their way through a dungeon… on their own… and they won’t know how difficult it is until they enter… or what skills are needed… and failure means not coming out, or worse, permadeath. Not exactly the easiest way to overthrow the tyrants, but there’s always a chance it’ll work, however remote.
As this is a Rogue-like certain elements are randomised with each play through. The island and the Gods remain in the same layout, but the warriors equipment, their skills, and even what comprises the dungeons that act as the route to the bosses are all switched up. With 8 heroes in the team and the ability to choose any one to try their luck at picking off a God, there’s quite an opportunity to develop unique stories depending on what happens. Picking a lair to investigate means the selection of one character and a weapon to enter with, though no knowledge of what they’re about to face. Successfully navigating it and beating the boss sends a triumphant warrior back to the clan with pride, the adoration of the masses, and loot. Getting beaten down on the journey and having vigour drop to nothing will have them locked in that dungeon and they can only be freed on winning through with another character. Lose all the players and it’s game over.
The chances of getting trapped in a dungeon in Gods Will Fall vary, but that’s preferable to dying outright. Depending on the situation and the blow that hits the player, it’s possible to be killed completely with a critical hit. There’s a Celtic roar that is built up in combat that restores health when it’s unleased, and it’s useful in a pinch, but it can’t bring you back from the dead. With no one returning from the cave (which is really a portal to the realm of the particular deity being hunted), it’s a decision on whether to carry on trying or give another one a go. It might be fruitful to move somewhere else as each has a randomly assigned difficulty value, and there may be an easier one elsewhere. Of course, it might be harder too, and that could mean another warrior down the Swanee. Regardless of whether it’s a breeze or a slog, one thing for sure is that the God at the end of the path is not a pushover.
In the preview footage we saw 3 of the 10 Gods make an appearance, and two of them each brutally take down the developer on showcasing duties. They are big powerful things with strong attacks and multiple ways to get the upper hand, as you’d expect. They’re obviously not impossible, but the general feeling was you’re not going to be knocking them down a peg or two on your first try. Learning attack patterns, understanding how to use each of the 5 available weapons, and no small amount of luck of the draw in skills and kit are going to be key to winning. Gods Will Fall’s combat is designed around risk/reward – it doesn’t want you to hang back and play safe, more damage will be done up close, but that puts you in range of dangerous counter attacks if your timing is off. Clever Beans aim is for it to balance finely so that every encounter feels like a battle with a strong sense of success vs failure.
Apparently there will be ways to figure out how strong the challenge in that particular realm is, but Mark was keeping tight lipped on that for now. With all areas open from the start it’s a bit of pot luck on what you’re going to get, and that means experimentation is key. There’s a desire that seeing as defeat is so close at hand, there shouldn’t be a time barrier to trying again, and it shouldn’t feel like there’s loads of ground to re-cover. The dungeons in Gods Will Fall aren’t overly lengthy and the island that acts as the hub is easy to navigate. Even down to the combat where they’ve decided there’ll be no lock-on function forces a faster play style. You can’t stand back and pick enemies off, you need to be in their face and pushing them back to gain an advantage. Skipping the minion fights in a dungeon is possible, though beware that each foe despatched removes a bit of the Gods overall health. It will pay to be thorough.
Gods Will Fall’s art style is cartoon-ish but effective, and it appeared to run very smoothly. It’s not too cluttered, yet contains enough to make the realms distinct and the world feel inhabited. The focus on Celtic ideas come through really strongly, even down to the names and weapons. There’s a tinge of drama to the proceedings as well that make me think it could hold some really interesting player engagement moments. The way the victorious warriors emerge from the caves, or the way the remaining band slumps when the doors open and there’s no one there, looked almost tangible. On the surface it might not seem the longest game, but Wherrett was keen to point out that whilst a clean run taking out every God with luck running in your direction might only take a couple of hours, the odds of that happening are pretty slim and you’ll need to be going back from more and more practice. It’s got a vibe that makes me think it’ll be a great one to get lost in, with the ever present risk of failure really heightening the tension, and paying off with a hard fought win. We’ll have to see how it all comes together when the game comes out.
Gods Will Fall by Clever Beans will be released on PS4, Xbox One and PC on the 29th January 2021.