Although the premise and certain features are okay, it doesn’t cohere into a twin stick shooter that’s well polished or likely to hold one’s attention for long.
Genres: Bullet Hell,
Twin Stick Shooter
Developer: OverPowered Team
Publisher: Freedom Games
Release Date: 15 April, 2021
When checking out the trailer for Godstrike (GS), I was intrigued by a system where a timer would serve as my health bar, as I’d engage in a series of bullet Hell boss fights. It suggested that I’d have some room for error, able to take a few hits, but each mistake would shave precious time from me when it was already slipping out of my grasp. Such stakes sound quite intense, and I’d have plenty of opportunities to re-fight tough bosses, learn their patterns, and eventually vanquish them. Boss fights can be the best part of a game, so I was all too happy to take on this challenge, and strike down the gods! That overconfidence may have been unfounded though.
There are 4 game modes available in GS: Story, Arena, Daily Challenge, and Challenge. Story mode doesn’t have much of a story, as you don’t even find out anything about each boss as you fight them, aside from their name. However, it gives a structured progression to playing GS, with each victory unlocking a passive skill, an active ability, and extending your time limit. Arena lets you fight against any boss, with any combination of the active and passive skills available in the game. It’s almost a practice mode, since there’s no stakes to winning or losing. The Daily Challenge is a random battle against one of the bosses with some condition in play. However, you only get one chance to beat it, so if you lose, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to try the next one. Challenge is somewhat similar, as it pits you against 5 boss fights, though you start each one with a clean start. Losing any of the fights means that you’ve failed to clear the mode though and have to start over from the first fight.
No matter which mode you try, the gameplay is the same for all of them. Each boss provides a set time limit for beating it, with the next one in the series giving more time, but also theoretically getting that much harder to topple. Before jumping into the fray, you’re able to select from the skills you have unlocked, unless you want to purposely handicap yourself. You can take 4 of either skill type, but passive skills cost nothing to equip or utilize in the fight. Active skills, on the other hand, both take away some of your time limit and require you to pick up souls the boss drops in order to activate them. If you fail to beat the boss a few times in a row, you’ll be able to switch to Easy Mode. The only thing this changes is how much time you lose when hit, cutting the amount in half, as the boss itself will behave the exact same.
The developers suggest playing GS with a controller, which I was all too happy to do, especially since this is a twin stick shooter. Meaning that the ‘L joystick’ moves the character, while the ‘R joystick’ aims your attacks. ‘A’ will also fire your attacks, but you can’t reliably aim the shots this way. Also, your projectiles do have a limited reach, so you can’t cower at the extreme edge from the boss. Depending on which skills you set, they can be activated with any of the 4 ‘shoulder buttons,’ based on how you assign them. If you use any of them often, it’d be prudent to keep them in a consistent place.
Although there is an opening cutscene explaining the origins of the world, it really doesn’t establish a clear foundation for what’s really going on. The long and short of it is that an incredibly powerful being gave the world life, split into segments which fought amongst themselves and were lost to time, and that was for the best anyways because it led to thousands of years of peace. Then some evil force bursts forth from places unknown, wrecks the entire continent, and leaves an island of people alone for a few centuries. When that place starts getting screwed with, a hopeless gal heads out for a solution, finds the long-forgotten herald… and you go into the tutorial. Before each boss you get some lines of text, but I don’t know what to make of any of them, since I don’t know the POV for who’s saying it, the situation it’s talking about, or when this quote was made: recently or eons ago.
Admittedly, part of what caught my eye about GS was its aesthetic, as it reminded me of Furi’s style. Each boss has a simple arena as a backdrop, there’s some neon touches on their projectiles, and even the overhead perspective has a similar angle and distance. It’s nothing revolutionary or amazing to look at, but it suffices, with each boss having enough distinction to not come across as an uninspired rush job. A recurring problem I noticed stems from the varying sizes of the arenas. The camera adjusts its perspective based on the character’s relation to the boss and what’s occurring on screen, slightly zooming in and out to accommodate the action. This movement can be somewhat disorienting when trying to dodge everything on screen. Additionally, some attacks are hard to properly discern in relation to your character. For instance, the boss Nuraanag shoots out a wave of bullets with small columns in-between, and I couldn’t properly judge my perspective to dodge them.
Most of the time I wasn’t listening to the music in the slightest, but when I paid attention, I noticed that it has a somewhat primal vibe to it. There’s an emphasis on percussion, with sounds like drums and clangs making up the forefront of the tracks. It fits a combat tone well enough, and even seems fitting for some of the bosses you fight against. However, although each boss has its own music, I don’t think they all paired up incredibly well, and they don’t sound that different from one another. The sound effects seemed a good match for what was happening on screen, so I had no complaint there.
- For those who would want a challenge, this game offers more than enough difficulty.
- Conceptually, GS has a novel approach on a boss gauntlet format.
- Each boss fight feels unique.
- The difficulty of the bosses seems to fluctuate significantly. I can’t beat one of them even when attempting it on Easy Mode several times, while I have one-shot others. Similarly, how long it takes to dwindle their health bars seems very inconsistent, as I’ve seen a few melt away rapidly, while a couple of them seem to take forever to chip away at.
- Some attacks lurch at you suddenly and too fast for you to avoid, particularly with how random the movements can be. I don’t know a reliable way to dodge certain phases due to this matter.
- There aren’t nearly as many bosses to fight as I was expecting. Since the store page mentioned there were 40 skills, I expected a boss count close to that.
- Some of the phases seem to be hard-wired to follow a specific path, as long as you act similarly each attempt. For instance, on my many attempts at Garodal, I noticed that his 1st phase follows a very set route if you take an optimal approach to decimate his health.
- Getting your aim just right can be a nuisance at certain angles, so when possible, find places to easily maintain consecutive hits on the boss.
- Don’t feel compelled to take 4 active skills on any given boss, as some may not pair up well against the one you’re facing anyways.
Although I was intrigued by the idea behind GS, I don’t think it works out well in practice. A timer on a boss fight can be an arbitrary way of making it more difficult, and if the balance isn’t set well, it can ruin the experience. By getting rid of a traditional health bar and blending it with the timer, this forces players into a situation where they have to be mindful of how much damage they’re doing to the boss throughout the fight. After all, if they are too defensive or not staying close enough to keep up the DPS, the timer will deplete regardless of whether they take damage or not.
For the bosses that gave me the most trouble, the difficulty stemmed primarily from how hard it was to consistently hit them with my attacks, as their hit boxes were smaller, and they were highly mobile. Being able to clear the first 2 or 3 phases of these bosses, even without many mistakes or with a decent amount of time left, means nothing when their last phase makes targeting them overly difficult. Especially since this is when their attacks are hardest to dodge. Not being able to hit the opponent, when they keep blasting you and exploiting your puny invincibility frames, makes for fights that aren’t fun to engage in. This tends to be why bullet Hells give players bountiful targets to fire at, so it’s not much of a concern to their taxed attention span. Considering how much time I’ve spent trying to beat the same boss, and that all the game modes don’t sufficiently change up the gameplay, I don’t think GS has much to offer. At the very least, I can say for certain that this isn’t for casual players, but I don’t recommend it overall.