|System: PS3, Xbox 360, PC*|
|Dev: Old School Games|
|Release: April 19, 2013|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Intense Violence, Blood and Gore, Suggestive Themes, Partial Nudity, Drug Reference|
The name God Mode evokes memories of Doom and Doom II; the term refers to a cheat code that bestows, in those two games, invulnerability upon the player. Atlus’ latest game leaves you far from invulnerable. Instead, God Mode opts to position you opposite nigh-insurmountable hordes of undead foes. The difficulty of God Mode makes me feel that the game is sarcastically named.
At its most basic level, God Mode appears to be a standard third-person shooter. It hits the staples by having an over-the-shoulder perspective and dual-analog controls. It even has the hallmark aim-down-the-sights button present in all modern shooters. Still, it feels…unusual. I’m not surprised, though - Atlus published the game.
The amalgamated God Mode fuses classic wave-based action with a more modern perspective. The frenetic gameplay challenges players with an endless swarm of enemies that only allows reaction, not preparation. Strategy has no place in this steroid enhanced horde mode. Neither does defense; Old School Games provides the player with no official cover. There’s just the onslaught and you.
To help remedy the repetitiveness of the one-dimensional approach, Atlus installed special conditions called the “Tests of Faith.” Tests of Faith range from the humorous to the horrendous. They can be beneficial, detrimental, or ambivalent. Some Tests, such as one that warps all audio so that it plays at a different speed, are just there to be silly. There is one called “God Mode,” which randomly provides the player with a few seconds of invulnerability and infinite ammo before passing on to a friend.
These odd diversions don’t add any real depth to the game. All there is, at the end of the day, is shooting. Bullets fly from an eclectic combination of weapons stolen from many different genres. Enemies ranging from skeletons to zombies to minotaurs crumble beneath your onslaught. While in the middle of these firefights I began to question the games adherence to traditional third-person shooter controls. Aiming by using the zoom feature doesn’t aid the player; instead it impedes the hectic shoot-outs by shifting too quickly from foe to foe.
The enemies of God Mode don’t react much when shot. Although basic skeletal enemies crumble beneath your bullets, bigger foes like berserkers and minotaurs barely react at all. The small squirts of blood that your bullets cause can barely be discerned. Other enemies such as specters and flyers create a variety of hard to see hit effects. By not letting enemies show a lot of damage until death, the game can feel impossible to win, even if it’s not.
The only time I questioned the developer’s desire to create a winnable game was when I had to reload. They made an odd design choice to make you reload after a certain number of shots. Larger enemies can take multiple clips of ammo to kill. The game compounds its irritating penchant for making you reload with the slowest weapon switching I’ve ever seen. For a game that relies on speed to deliver a high-octane, exciting experience, slowing down the game pace makes no sense.
The presence of others in co-op play mitigates the weapon-switching issue by having friends watch your back while you pick out the perfect death-dealing machine. The presence of friends, however, creates another problem. A player can only gain XP from an enemy by landing the killing blow. Your friends will be more than happy to take advantage of the situation if you decide to swap weapons, stealing from you a wealth of XP.
The XP curve seems inverted; the initial levels take multiple matches to gain XP. This slow start leaves a bad impression of grinding on a new player. The odd design choice doesn’t surprise me. After playing God Mode it feels like Atlus spitefully resists all calls to make normal choices in games they have published.
Voice chat presents a problem for God Mode as well, at least on the PC. If you try to talk through the game’s normal channels, your friends’ voices become laggy and choppy. My teammates and I ended up muting each other and using Steam’s chat instead. The game, however, seems to desire nothing more than to be irritating; God Mode would automatically unmute everyone between matches.