Format – PC
After spending a good few hours with Gods Will Be Watching, I came to a brutal conclusion about the current state of the video games industry.
Independent gaming has not only buried AAA, but it has stamped, weed and crapped all over its grave. AAA has failed to really get off the blocks in 2014, meanwhile we’ve had the likes of Luftwausers, Rymdkapsel, Nidhogg, The Swapper, Monument Valley, 10 Second Ninja, 0rbitalis, Mercenary Kings, Shovel Knight, Transistor, Betrayer and so many others stealing the show. And guess what, there’s still a ton more to come.
But while many of these games have been enjoyable in short blasts and are addictive, fun and engaging due to their pick up and play quality, Gods Will Be Watching is as hard-hitting and gripping as just about anything I’ve ever played.
It’s uncomfortable, it’s awkward, it will stop and make you think, but you will be immersed every step of the way.
The story of GWBW is told through a variety of cut-scenes, which then plunge the player into one dramatic set-piece after another, requiring them to point and click their way through. Each sequence is different from the previous, but requires strategy, planning and occasionally knee-jerk reactions. I’d tell you about them in detail but it sort of spoils the surprise and sullies the initial impact of the game. Gods Will Be Watching is best played when you’re thrust into a particular situation fresh and unprepared. Don’t watch someone else play this one before you try. Seriously.
That’s what the game does best. It catches you off-guard. You will be unprepared and overwhelmed and absolutely fearing for the lives of your virtual characters because you don’t know how to protect them properly, but you learn from your mistakes, you will adapt, you will try different strategies and you will be better off for it.
You’ll also need to monitor several things at once and be prepared to multi-task or plan your moves several steps ahead of yourself. Characters have their own individual traits, so in one scene you could be working with a physician, a scientist, a suicidal lunatic and an enforcer. It’s down to you to figure out what each person can do, what you need them for in each scene and For instance, you could be monitoring someone’s condition but you need time to charge up a defibrillator to bring them back to life, but they’re running out of time and dying on the spot. Meanwhile, you are running out of oxygen in a cave and need to focus on the task at hand.
It’s destined to be a memorable, social experience. Much like Dark Souls got the internet talking, Gods Will Be Watching will elicit discussion. People trading strategies, talking about their approaches, how their first time went down and how long it finally took them to get past a particular section. At the end of each level you’ll also see statistics and how the majority of other people reacted to the scenario, ala The Walking Dead where you compare your choices to others.
The one problem is that, once you have got past a section, you can essentially repeat your performance and beat it every time by following that exact same pattern. The nature of the game doesn’t change, there are no dynamic changes or alterations, and like most adventure, point and click or puzzle games, once the solution is in your head, it’s difficult to get out again.
But there are Easy and Original modes for you to get through. Easy mode is more for players who want to experience the story, whereas Original is a lot more challenging and made for a more balanced experience. Or as the game developers put it, the mode you should be playing. There are also challenges for each level, such as keeping everyone alive or meeting certain set conditions.
So, should you buy it? I’ll just say that, despite its pixelated palette, Gods Will Be Watching will bring a flurry of emotions out of you; more than most other AAAs with endless budgets have managed all year. It’s an interesting game, one that will haunt you for days, and a genius evolution for the Point and Click genre. It won’t be for everyone, these things rarely are, but of Gods Will Be Watching, I can honestly say it is like nothing else you’ve played – or probably will play – this year.
The Good Stuff
- Heart-pounding puzzle-solving
- Memorable and haunting adventure
- Surprising attachments to characters you’ve only known for a short time
- Comparing your playtime to others makes things even more interesting.
- Unique play-style
The Bad Stuff
- Story can be a bit of a slog and is occasionally muddy.
- Brutal learning curve may put some off.
There is a lot to like here and it pushes the case that narrative in games is more important than ever, furthering the maturity of the industry with challenging, thought-provoking, discussion-led experiences. Gods Will Be Watching is one of my most memorable gaming experiences of 2014 and it has come from the unlikeliest of places.
Technical Competency – 9/10
Graphic Quality – 8/10
Entertainment Value – 10/10
Sound Quality – 8/10
Network Stability – N/A