IDDQD This Is Not
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.
The controls on the PC present another issue. God Mode doesn’t allow flexible control mapping. I couldn’t reassign the left and right arrow keys and, as a result, had to play the game in a fashion that I wasn’t used to. The unwieldy keyboard and mouse controls make it apparent that God Mode was not designed with the PC in mind. If someone insists on playing God Mode on the PC, I recommend using an Xbox 360 controller.
Despite all my gripes, the game has redeeming qualities. “Oaths” provide an additional challenge while increasing the rewards received. The usually unneeded extra challenge can jump-start a stalling game with your friends. Caches of extra weapons and upgrades can be purchased too, allowing the player to personalize a unique brand of carnage. This customization extends into cosmetic options, giving the player a fun control over the aesthetics of the game.
I found a lot of enjoyment in the game’s aesthetics. The appealingly surreal gothic tone makes the visuals look hellish. In a delightful addition, the game displays a fun sense of humor. For example, an enthusiastic narrator is more than happy to regale you with stories of your death.
The aesthetics of the game create an illusion of quality. God Mode, at its core, feels as cheap as the price tag might suggest. The one-note shooting can’t sustain the game through all five maps. I’m not sure I feel comfortable recommending God Mode to anyone but a bored gamer looking for a single night of fun with friends. A couple of times while playing God Mode I saw what the game might have been. Unfortunately, thanks to odd design choices, Atlus’ shooter doesn’t live up to its potential.
Date: April 24, 2013
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.8 Graphics
They’re not a technical marvel, but some of the enemy designs are very creative and the levels mix gothic architecture with a hellishly surreal nature. 3.0 Control
A responsive controller doesn’t justify ignoring traditional PC controls and having restrictive button mapping. 3.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The narrator is great, but the rest of the score is dismissible. 2.0 Play Value
It lacks the critical element of skill that can turn a fun game into an engaging one. 2.2 Overall Rating – Poor
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best