Every now and then a game comes along that looks so over the top, so outrageous, so hectic that you know it’s going to be a hell of a good time. Developed by One More Level and published by Techland Publishing, God’s Trigger looks to be one of those games. Its top-down shooter style along with its tough as nails characters hooked me from the moment I saw the trailer.
Bullets and viscera fly around like nobody’s business in this chaotic twin stick style shooter. Is it worth your time or is it a journey through the 7 layers of hell?
This game tells its story fast and loose. You follow Harry, an angel who has fallen from heaven and needs to fight his way back. Upon arriving on Earth he meets Judy, a demon in exile, and together they vow to take down the horsemen and get into heaven to stop the apocalypse. That’s all the setup that is provided. They get you in the game quick, fast, and in a hurry. No over the top narration to set the stakes. No long drawn out monologue building up the characters. Just a few quick points introducing them and what they are trying to achieve and off you go.
Throughout each chapter, you find out what the horseman you are tracking is up to, and how they are planning to take over/destroy the world. You get a feel for their personalities and why they need to be taken down. The straightforward and no-nonsense storytelling is refreshing as more and more games opt for intricate and complex plots. *Cough* Kingdom Hearts 3 *cough*.
Arcade mode is where most of the replayability comes in at. You go through a set list of stages, however, each stage has randomized enemies. In this mode there are no checkpoints and, if you die, you have to start all over. Think of it more like a ‘challenge mode’ where you are trying to keep up the longest combo and complete the level as fast as possible. You can do this solo or with a friend… Making these levels almost trivial to complete. Although there will definitely be some tricky enemy combinations that will make you scratch your head.
The mechanics are simple yet tripped me up. It’s a twin stick shooter with melee attacks and many weapons. Harry has his trusty sword and Judy has her chain. This forces you to get up close and personal with enemies… Which is rough, as if you are hit once, you are dead. No hit points, No losing that character. Just straight up death. Fortunately, and unlike the other arcade mode, there are checkpoints a plenty and you are never set too far back.
When you kill an enemy you can pick up their weapon. If it’s a gun or grenade you have ammo and if you run over more of that weapon you will pick up the ammo from it. These weapons are lifesavers and will allow you to stay at a relatively safe distance. When you pick up melee weapons you can throw them and take out enemies. These were my favorite pickups from enemies as they have some of the coolest death animations; from setting them ablaze to launching them back into walls.
Aside from the weapons, both Harry and Judy have a set of abilities they unlock as they level up. These abilities make the game a hell of a lot easier and will save your heavenly, or devilish, but more times than you can count. Nothing beats going invisible to get out of a bad situation or Jedi mind tricking enemies into taking each other out to help you clear a room.
Each of the abilities and main weapons have upgrades that you can unlock. Such as being able to deflect bullets, enemies exploding after being mind controlled, and increasing the range of the abilities are just some of the things that you can add on. This allows for great customization and makes each character feel how you like or to give you an easier time in the level. The customization for each character is much appreciated in a game where you die in one hit.
A few other mechanics that are important and give the game flair are the following: being able to go into a slow-motion mode when you execute an enemy, and at certain times during the level, you will be surrounded by enemies and time is slowed for dramatic effect. These slow-mo effects were fun and made you feel powerful. Even if half of the time when I went to execute an enemy I would get killed by a different one.
One major issue I had with the game is that you cannot change your buttons. AT ALL. What you see is what you get. This was a bit frustrating as I found myself struggling a bit to wrap my head around the controls. I wanted to make attack or dash one of the face buttons. I would have even been fine if they had a couple of different presets to pick from. BUT NO, I had to suck it up and ‘git gud‘ with the default control scheme. This felt like a huge missed opportunity to make the game a bit more accessible.
This is how the game feels like it was meant to be played. You and a friend vs. the 4 horsemen and heaven. Here you don’t instantly die when you get hit but fall to the ground and bleed out instead. Your partner can pick you up by using one of the healing items that you get at the start of the stage. You can also find more of these items while exploring and making your way through the level.
Currently, there is only local co-op so your friend will need to be right by your side to play with you. A nostalgic feeling that I found I missed in today’s age of online co-op and multiplayer. Laughing and bantering with a friend while ducking and dodging bullets will remind you of a bygone era where online wasn’t a thing.
Gods Trigger isn’t the latest graphical masterpiece and it doesn’t set out to be. Its over the top action and crazy amount of baddies wouldn’t work well if it took that approach. Instead, it went for a more ‘Hotline Miami’ look and feel. It knocks it out of the park in that aspect. All of the gore is bright and surreal, the levels are expansive and complex, and the decor fantastic. What the game lacks in fidelity, it more than makes up for in style. On top of which the art in this game is phenomenal. While looking at the stills during the narration, I got a ‘streets of rage‘ vibe from the art. The characters were detailed and felt grounded.
The game’s audio design is strong. Each attack has a unique sound and, when a specific enemy is attacking, you can tell by the sound. If they are dashing at you hear it charging up. If they have shotgun then…well, it sounds like a shotgun. The only thing I felt was a bit lacking was the soundtrack. It wasn’t bad by any means, however, I just felt that it was a bit weak. As much as it did fit with the game. Even the voice acting was solid. Typically games at this price point and of this size forgo voice acting and opt to simply use text boxes outside of the main narration.