Gods Will Be Watching Reviewed
By Nathaniel Liles
[dropcap]I[/dropcap] do so love a game that takes the idea of “pixelated” graphics and does something great with that idea. It’s not particularly hard to make an 8-bit sprite, but when you get into recreating actual human forms with so few pixels, things start getting very interesting. An admirable eye for detail and dominant colors is absolutely essential in making a game look as good as Gods Will Be Watching, and right out of the gate I was excited for this title. I’ve seen similar art styles in other games before, but not in such a gritty context, and exploring the art style in a mature way is something I was compelled to experience myself.
Gameplay flows very well, all things considered. This has been described by many as a point-and-click adventure, but that’s not a very accurate description. You don’t walk around very much, there’s very little exploration, and you never have to bash every item in your inventory against something to see if it will make the game happen. In fact, Gods Will Be Watching is a resource management game. You have to make decisions that will keep people alive, keep people from panicking, and keep the story moving, while forever at the mercy of several invisible “progress bars”. We’ll use an example from the first level so you don’t have to search through a gameplay video to figure out what I’m talking about.
You start out in a ship with a few hostages, a hacker, a gunman, and a few guys who want to kill your pants off. Your goal is to keep the hostages alive while keeping them from running off or attacking you. What they do is influenced by how calm they are, and you can do various things to comfort them, scare them, or disable their limbs/brains. They’re also influenced by each other, meaning you’re trying to keep four plates spinning. While doing that, the bad guys are taking steps towards you, and if they get too close, it’s game over. You can push them back or negotiate with them. It’s a pretty cool idea, I suppose, but since absolutely none of what I just told you is communicated to the player at all, it makes for a very frustrating experience. You’re going to lose repeatedly, meaning you’re going to skip through the cutscene repeatedly, and you won’t have any idea why you’re losing for a very long time.
While that’s fine for the first level, the second level takes every cool idea from that beginning section, boils it down to two interactive characters, and makes it mind numbingly repetitive. Level 2 finds you in a torture chamber with a buddy of yours. You have to keep yourself alive while withstanding 20 damn days of the same minigame. Very little changes between levels, and you’ll be asked the same questions over and over (even if you successfully lie or confess). You’ll read the same text and do the same things, but here’s the kicker – there’s a randomly generated “Russian Roulette” room. You have a 1 in 7 chance of losing, right then and there. Nothing can save you aside from confessing, and you have limited confessions. Either you confess so much that they kill you anyway or you roll the dice and try to survive the random chance. This can happen multiple times in a single attempt to survive the 20 days, so you’ll often be forced to simply roll the dice. Not a lucky person? Have fun doing the same thing over and over again even more.
While the game does pick up considerably after that, it’s impossible to ignore the second level. It is absolutely shameful game design. It’s repetitive even when you make no mistakes, and you can fail and restart even if you make no mistakes. If there’s some magical way to get past that part, it was never indicated to me, the player, by the game. When I did finally get past, I did so with miserable stats, a dead partner, and no satisfaction.
Pretty damning review, right? I bet you’re going to explode when I tell you that I would actually highly recommend this game to absolutely anyone! It’s a phenomenal story that will really put your mind to the test, and even though that second level is the most tedious, annoying thing in the world… It’s a torture scene in an artsy game. It’s intentionally designed to torture the player, as far as I’m concerned. Going back and looking at some of the fan excitement and trailers, I’d say that this largely fails its own hype, but it’s still a very good game, and it’s not very expensive. You can pick it up on Gog for a crisp $10 bill, which isn’t bad, because even though you could theoretically beat this in under an hour, the trial and error will probably bring it up to 4 or more. This is a good game, but it’s not for the faint of heart, and it’s certainly not one for the kiddos. You eat people. It’s cool, but also a bit gross. Oh, and a dude can get ripped in half. And you can shoot people in the head in front of their colleagues.
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[author image=”http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/nathaniel.jpg”]Nathaniel Liles is a freelance writer, writing major, and indie musician based in Southern Indiana. While procrastinating or avoiding real-world responsibility, Nathaniel enjoys playing rhythm games, action RPGs, and very colorful games with many bright, flashing lights. You can listen to Nathaniel sing songs or download his music for free on his BandCamp page. You can watch him play games on his Twitch channel. You can also follow him on twitter at @NathanielLiles. And finally, you can read more of his writing over at EliteGamingComputers.com. He’s a pretty connected guy.[/author]