I’ve been saying for years that adventure games have been steadily changing. After the Golden years of the 90’s, point and clicks and the adventure game genre as a whole saw a massive decline in English-Speaking markets. But with the advent of crowdsourcing and the success of Telltale Games, they suddenly became commercially viable once again, albeit in slightly different forms.
Modern incarnations, whilst stemming in their base values from well-known classics, have more often than not combined the typical extensive storytelling, interesting characterisations and general interfaces with other popular mechanics. Most popular has been the inclusion of meaningful moral choices and QTEs, but not every modern point and click has used the exact same combinations of modern mechanics. Funded through the crowdfunding site IndieGoGo, Gods Will Be Watching is an adventure game with turn-based Strategy and micro-management elements. Make no mistake; this is no Monkey Island, with brutal scenarios at every turn and often no “Good” choice that will lead you to success.
Gods is a brutally difficult experience, starting you off in an already stressful situation – A Hostage Situation.
And YOU’RE the eco-terrorist.
So yeah, in the first mission you’re tasked with stealing something from a research facility, using the “innocent” scientists as leverage to prevent your own untimely demise. Whilst it could be argued that you aren’t STRICTLY the bad guy, the actions you have to take are definitely somewhere on the sliding scale of evil. Multi-management is your real task, however, as you struggle to juggle a variety of equally important elements. Firstly, you need to keep the hostages under control, as they are both your bargaining chips and the other things keeping the security team outside from killing everyone in the room. Secondly, you must slow said team’s advances towards the door without panicking said hostages with gunfire. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, you need to assist your allies in hacking the system and repelling the enemy’s attempts to stop you from doing so, in order to actually achieve your aims and reach the next scenario.
It’s a hectic routine, juggling so many different things. Eventually, no matter what it’s very likely that SOMETHING will go awry, and you’ll be forced to choose between instant failure and doing something on the dark side of the moral compass. The delicate balance required has been skillfully designed in each mission you undertake.
This level of brutal challenge can be frustrating to the point of desperation, but Gods isn’t a game that was designed to be “fun” in the traditional sense. After years of games being dulled down to be easier, it takes an old-school, “quarter-eating” approach in the vein of so many rogue-likes. You WILL fail repeatedly, but with each failure you learn to get further and further, bringing you a greater sense of satisfaction with each pass.
Without spoiling anything, my favourite scenario which demonstrated this involved surviving a set period of time as an interrogation victim. With each passing day, staying alive and enduring the torture inflicted upon yourself and your companion becomes more difficult, as you balance giving your captor enough true information to satisfy them, but not enough to make you worthless as a subject, through constructing sufficiently convincing lies to hold them off just that little bit longer.
The most compelling element of this is the ever moving goalposts. Just as you think you’ve got things figured out, your captors will bring ever increasingly dangerous “toys” to work to help extract information from your bloodied flesh, sometimes going so far as to instantly kill you on a roll of the dice. As I say, it may be brutal, and frustrating, and borderline self-defeating, but it’s all in a good way, and when you succeed, it feels like a true achievement.
The graphical style just contributes to this feeling of risk that accompanies your every action. In true faux 90’s style, the aesthetic is beautifully drawn by well-designed details and gritty sci-fi influences, whilst still being vague enough to allow your imagination to fill in the gaps that the aesthetic leaves. Even though the result of a shoot-out could be described as some pixilated white and red when someone’s head should be, you have the full knowledge that the shot blew his face apart so hard that his skull literally exploded onto the floor.
Characterisation is also a highlight, with every individual having their own quirks and personality. Even though there is no voice-acting per se, the colloquialisms and little, personal touches, set to the heavy sci-fi background are incredibly effective, as is the use of costume.
All in all, Gods Will Be Watching is a game you will love to hate. With a great storyline and well-executed mechanics, it’s an interesting take on the adventure game genre that blew my socks off from start to finish. If you don’t mind taking a beating, I highly recommend it.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.