Oh shiny knight, oh shiny, shiny, slash that sword that’s in no way tiny… Right, now that you know we suck at poetry, we’ll talk more about PS5 launch “looter-slasher” Godfall.
Born of a desire to meld a skilled battle system with a whole bunch of loot, the first thing that you notice about Godfall is how incredible it looks. Nothing has been spared in the bling department, from the shiny (yes, there’s that word again) armours that harness the power of HDR for good right through to the use of the PS5’s ray-tracing for lighting effects. Seriously, we often found ourselves stopping to admire the scenery, going backwards and forwards watching shafts of light piercing through yonder windows and suchlike.
But, as we always say, pretty graphics do not a great game make. But gee, sometimes they really help.
Story-wise, there’s something about a thousand-year conflict, a majestic kingdom that’s been reduced to ruins and Valorian knights with very-cool (and shiny) “valorplates” for armour. That’s where the player comes in, for one of those knights is you, and you’ll be modelling any of 12 valorplates, each with cool powers such as that of electrocution or a trio of helpful spirit warriors to assist in battle.
Your armour isn’t your only protection in battle, for the looter part of proceedings delivers bountiful booty with which to play, powering up your knight to an almost brain-busting RPG-like degree – there’s a lot of messing about in menus to get your head around.
Basically, you (plus, if you wish, up to two other online teammates) set out on various missions from a hub world, battle hordes of graphically stunning-looking beasties, sometimes encounter a boss and despatch them all summarily. Rinse and repeat. A lot.
Variety isn’t the strongest suit that Godfall packs in its armoury, but play can be broken up via pursuing various side quests and the continual hunt for newer shiny things to add to your increasingly shiny arsenal.
One thing that we must mention is the battle music. In general play, fairly calm orchestral strains are the order of the day, but when there are adversaries to take care of the music arcs up and drums burst into frenetic life. Not only does it serve to fire blood lust, it also has a practical purpose, as the drums subside once you’ve disposed of all of your current attackers.
Imagine a cross between the Diablo games, the latest God of War and a bit of arcade classic Golden Axe and you’re basically where Godfall sits. Sure, there’s not a stunning array of variety, both in missions and general scenery, but then again how deep is your average arcade game? Despite some repetition, we found ourselves sinking hours trundling around, sending all manner of creatures to their grave and lapping up all that shiny treasure. It’s also rewarding learning your ever-expanding list of fighting moves, for spamming buttons like a wild thing will only get you so far. Here, knowing your capabilities and when to use them can really yield satisfying results.
What we did find odd was that your chosen protagonist can’t jump – and we’re not discussing their basketball skills. We always find it odd when a character can run, dash and lift gargantuan weaponry, yet can’t jump. Instead, any areas that require non-walking traversal pop a circle prompt up on screen, you press said button and warp to that spot. It’s… clunky. Maybe that combo of shiny armour and big weaponry makes your knight too heavy to leave the shackles of gravity?
When a new console hits, many want something to really show off what the hardware can do, even if it isn’t necessarily going to end up going down as a classic in years to come – think how you first reacted upon seeing Heavenly Sword soon after the launch of the PS3… it was breathtaking. Godfall is a bit like that effort from Ninja Theory. It offers decent playability, and is certainly enjoyable enough to keep interest for a fair while, but ultimately its big draw is that it just looks so damned good – and, yes, shiny.
Godfall is available now on PS5.