Godstrike is a twin-stick-shooter bullet-hell boss-rush game where time is your health and currency. That is a lot to wrap your head around but it really isn’t that complicated. Godstrike is a video game in the classical definition that emphasizes pure concentrated gameplay and as the saying goes “Gameplay is king!” Developed by OverPowered Team and published by Freedom Games, here is our review of Godstrike.
As sad as it is to say (at the beginning of this review no less) the story is window dressing and can be ignored. As stated before, the game is a video in the classical definition, and as such, video games back in the day were about the gameplay. The story was treated as either an afterthought or non-existent. That being said, the game does make an attempt at telling a grand story with a cool opening cut scene that looks straight out of the opening for The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. The opening tells the story of a God (Talaal) that splits its power among seven masks. You play as an unnamed female protagonist that is the champion of one of the masks and is fighting to defeat the corruption of the other six masks before the power gets absorbed into the wrong hands. That is it! This is a very straightforward story but somehow the game manages to make it feel very complicated and hard to track.
The game has dialogue thoughts of the protagonist mentally narrating the fallout of every mission and foreshadowing bigger things to come that never feel like they transpire. After a while, I stopped caring to read the text bubbles and I feel like the game would have been better off without a story. Ultimately, the story is only used to contextualize why you are playing the game but classic games such as Metal Slug and Contra didn’t need a story, they just needed to be fun and this game has that in spades.
The audio is a bit of a mixed bag for me. On the positive side, the soundtrack fits the mood of the genre and the gameplay. As things become dire and you look like you are about to lose, the soundtrack punches up, giving more intensity to the game. On the bad, the game doesn’t have a sound cue for when you take a hit and if there is one, then it is very hard to hear. It just feels like the game doesn’t give any audio weight to hits. The only other bad thing is I can’t remember any of the songs. There doesn’t seem to be a strong musical motif in this game, so none of the tracks are particularly memorable. I just remember the feeling of playing the game with my palms being sweaty and my heartbeat pounding and the music fits perfectly with that mood.
There isn’t much to say about the visuals, the game has a colorful cell-shaded look to it. Environments are basic and would ultimately be distracting if they weren’t. Level design is straightforward because battles take place in small arenas. On the bright side, performance is never really a problem, with a small level, there should never be any frame drops or any performance issues for that matter. During my time with the game, the game performed at a locked 60fps at 1080p (sadly there doesn’t seem to be a 4k option).
This is the meat and potatoes of this review. Godstrike is first and foremost a twin-stick shooter. For those unfamiliar with the genre, a twin-stick shooter is when you use the two sticks on your controller to control your character. Generally speaking, the left stick is used to control the movement of your character, and the right stick controls where your character shoots. Examples of twin-stick shooters include Resogun and The Binding of Isaac. Here it is no different, during the review I played with an Xbox One controller and I think I might have loosened up the right stick by the time I rolled credits. The four face buttons can also be used instead of the right stick, however, doing so would limit your character to only shoot in eight directions. As an example, the A button on an Xbox controller would have you shoot down and the B button would make you shoot right. So, if you were to press A and B together, you would aim diagonally down and to the right. In general, I didn’t use the face buttons because using them felt limiting however, using the face buttons was more advantageous at times because the Xbox controller has no notches, and aiming straight up was hard to do at times.
Next up is bullet-hell. This is self-explanatory, but bullet-hell games are games where the enemies spray bullets all over the screen that you need to dodge and weave around. Examples of this genre include Contra, Metal Slug, and Cuphead.
Finally, there is boss-rush. Also self-explanatory but this is where every level you play in a game is a boss fight. Some games can just be boss rushes and others will include boss rushes in the late game, for example, Mega Man games have you re-fighting all the bosses back to back in the end game. Examples of boss rush games include Shadow of the Colossus, Punch-Out, and Bloodborne.
This is where Godstrike comes in, the game combines all these elements into one cohesive whole. The game is unrelenting as every level is a boss fight and every boss is very difficult to beat.
As far as gameplay goes, the game doesn’t have a traditional health bar. Every level has an allotted time that you need to beat the boss in. When you get hit, time is deducted from you, when the time reaches zero, then the next hit will end your run and you would need to restart the level. As you progress during the story mode, you unlock power-ups and modifiers. The modifiers can make the game easier such as increasing the shooting speed, your running speed, and increasing your damage to name a few. The power-ups however come at a cost. If you equip a power-up then time gets taken off the clock essentially decreasing your health. Power-ups are mapped to the four shoulder buttons and can be mapped any way you see fit. During battle, blue orbs get dropped into the level and you need to collect them in order to use your power-ups. Some power-ups cost fewer orbs than others and are easier to spam.
As far as HUD elements are concerned, the game is very minimalistic with your time/health at the top and the enemy’s health on the bottom. On the bottom left-hand corner of the screen, you can see a number of squares that represent the number of transformations each boss has. So if you see four squares then prepare for four waves.
As far as difficulty, the game doesn’t have a difficulty slider. The game is just plain hard. Just to emphasize how crazy the game is, the game features an easy mode and even then I still lost a lot. Even from the first moments of the game, I started taking a beating because it took me three times to beat the tutorial. I’ve never played a tutorial like that. The game just throws you straight into the fire, the game expects you to sink or swim. When I think of a tutorial in video games, I think of something easy that eases you into the difficulty curve of the game and teaches you about the mechanics. A lot of times tutorials freeze a game for you and tells you to press a button and won’t proceed until you do. This is not like that and the tutorial level is a boss level unto itself.
For me, I pride myself on not playing games on easy mode or taking a shortcut. For example, in the New Super Mario Bros series, the game introduced a power-up called the P-wing. It only shows up when the player has died about 10 times in one level. When it spawns in front of you, you can collect it, and you can fly/glide all the way to the end of the level and it makes you invincible like having a star power-up. I always found that insulting to me because if I see it, I feel like the game is calling me a punk. I know that’s not the case because the game is also targeted at kids and it’s good for accessibility purposes. Why do I bring all this up? Because after dying a lot of times, I saw the option to enable easy mode, and my first reaction was the feeling of being called a punk just like the New Super Mario Bros game, but after an hour and a half of playing the same level, I relented and enabled easy mode, and then I still lost some more. The easy mode makes it so each shot you do deals more damage and makes you lose less time when you get hit. It’s crazy that even with those two things factored in, I was still getting punked by the game. The game is short at only ten levels but I am happy to report that I was able to beat two levels without the aid of easy mode and I know this because the easy mode question never popped up for me. Also, side note, easy mode is only enabled for the level you are stuck on, when you proceed to the next level it takes it away until you die a lot.
As far as other game modes, there are variations. There is an arena mode that is unlocked from the very beginning where you can go to any level (including the tutorial) and play it with any power-up and modifier including stuff that is not part of the campaign. There is also a challenge mode where you have to take on a specific challenge usually multiple stages back to back. There is a daily challenge mode where you have one shot at defeating one level with specific conditions. Lastly, there are online leaderboards. There is also the ability to integrate with Twitch where if you pair your Twitch account to the game in the menu, your audience can affect your game.
Ultimately, this is a short game, if you are just amazing at this game you can probably beat the campaign in 30 minutes. It took me 6.5 hours to roll credits so your mileage may vary. The game has achievements and some of them seem impossible to me, one of them was to beat a level without taking any damage. So, this game does have a good value proposition with replayability that emphasizes you perfecting your craft. My experience with this game was that of frustration, but the good kind. Every time I died, it was my fault, and I had to learn the boss’ patterns and openings and I needed to stop trying to force interactions the way I wanted them to go. After a while, I learned to enter into “the zone” and just play the game. It was some beautiful moments of zen for me. Every time I lost I kept saying to myself “one more time” To my surprise, I never wanted to throw my controller, so the game was doing something right.
Godstrike is a video that focuses on gameplay first and foremost. The story is weak but it could just as easily not have been integrated in the first place. The performance was steady and needed to be for the genres at play. The soundtrack and mixing got the job done but were otherwise not memorable. Yet the gameplay is king and was good at putting me in a concentrated trance. The game gives you free rein to practice in arena mode to take on harder challenges in the other modes and achievements can keep you playing until you master the game.
Godstrike is a solid strong game that knows its strengths and plays them well. I give this game a 7/10.
Godstrike is already out on PS4, PS5, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and PC. The game retails for $14.99 but at the time of writing the game is on sale on Steam for 60% off at $5.99 and on Switch for 50% at $7.49. At any of these price points, I feel the game is a good value proposition. A code was provided by the publisher for purposes of review. The game was reviewed on PC via Steam.
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