Thor: God of Thunder is an action/platforming game developed by Red Fly Studios and published by SEGA. It is the “official game of the movie” for the recently released “Thor” movie and is available for the Nintendo 3DS. Unlike regular games based off of feature films, God of Thunder has a slightly different storyline than the movie it’s representing. The game starts off the same as the movie with the ice giants attacking Asgard and Thor going to Nifleheim for revenge. Things take a very different turn however when Thor decides to find an ancient weapon to defeat the ice giants, starting off a chain reaction that takes him to 5 of the 9 planets detailed in Norse mythology. The story is delivered both in-game with cutscenes taking place before, during and after each level and in the form of comic cutscenes with full voice acting for both. As a comic-based storytelling method, the cutscenes are very static but are drawn very well, another plus being that the voice actors in the game are the same voice actors for the movies; a rather rare touch.
The gameplay of God of Thunder is relatively safe and familiar if you’ve played a beat’em’up. You have your health and odinforce (mana) meter and an experience bar, Thor does things a little differently however. The mana meter in God of Thunder is referred to as the “Odinforce bar”. As the name suggests, this bar allows Thor to use his thunder powers as long as the bar stays full. These powers range from charging your weapon Mjolnir to casting a sustained lightning bolt to solve puzzles; all of which involve pressing the corresponding button on the touch screen after unlocking it. The health and Odinforce bars can be upgraded depending on how many “Levels” you’ve gained and are replenished in-game via the use of orbs that are dropped from enemy kills. Levels are gained solely from killing enemies and picking up the experience orbs they drop. Once you gain a level you can use the level to get an upgrade in 3 categories, each with a corresponding list of unlocks that are progressed through gradually. One being special attacks, one being health upgrades and one being odinforce upgrades. Each path can be chosen for any level so your progression path is entirely up to you.
Other unlocks for the game include runes which count as additional upgrades that enhance abilities you currently have. Runes are unlocked in levels from alternate paths, experience upgrades and other achievements. There are 20 runes in total of which you must choose only 4 at any given time. In addition, there are a few costumes that can be unlocked in approximately the same manner, giving some longevity to the game. In terms of combat, the gameplay shares many aspects with other beat’em’up games in that you have standard attacks and more powerful attacks that can be strung into combos. Mjolnir can also be used as a shield, a large fan, a storm conductor and many other destructive uses. Combat is one of the things that Thor does right, it feels a lot better than it should to smash an ice giant into the air, smash them in the air several times then have them slamming down to the floor with an additional lightning strike thrown in. There are several bosses from the movie in the game in addition to bosses from the same world but not shown in the movie such as Surtur and others. The bosses in the game are rather easy but are very cinematically pleasing with many gameplay aspects required to defeat them. Unlike most beat’em’up games, you can’t just mash buttons to kill the hardest monsters.
Its a shame then that the level and monster designs are the one major thing that brings the game down. It’s obvious from the second level onwards that the flame monsters you’re slaying now are the same monsters from before with a different skin. To wrap up the design in a nutshell you can class monsters into small, medium and large. You get the odd exception to this in the form of flying or magic-hammer wielding monsters but apart from that the game gets very repetitive very quickly, giving you the sensation that you’re really moving from one room to the next grinding the same 3 monster types and using the same cookie cutter combos to defeat them, the only exception being upgrading Thor to best optimise the time taken to do this. In addition, the levels are very similar with the large room to large room method of level design, often accompanied by a large door that you aren’t able to get passed until all the monsters in the current room are defeated.
In addition to the regular room to room beat’em’up missions, there are other missions to undertake including flight missions which involve flying Thor through an on-rails section of a level and throwing Mjolnir at targets by either moving and pressing a button or locking onto targets by holding down a button. These levels are very cinematic and pleasing to look at and are a refreshing change but are unfortunately so easy that you can just hold a button and release every so often to get through it without much harm. In addition to this mode there are also dedicated boss levels that provide the most challenge the game can provide. Each boss has their own different strengths and weaknesses and their own set of theatrical mechanics ranging from breaking a large sword to flying out of an icy hole. In comparison to the rest of the game’s combat, the bosses are a great step forward in entertainment and difficulty. If the other enemies were tuned to use the mechanics more prominently the game’s combat could have been absolutely fantastic. The game does have several difficulty modes including easy, medium hard and a locked difficulty “Ragnarok!” only unlocked from completing the story mode in any other difficulty. The only real change in the difficulty appears to come from the damage and life numbers being juiced against the players favour however.
Whilst the story mode can last you anywhere from 6-10 hours depending on difficulty and speed of execution, the game has quite a few unlockables to find after the final boss has been slain. Concept art, extra costumes and the last remaining runes mean that the game has quite a few hours worth of content to enjoy but that’s really about it. There isn’t any trace of multiplayer in the game even including steetpass functionality. A co-op mode between 2 systems would have been fantastic especially for the more hectic missions but the game already has its fair share of slowdowns and technical limitations so that kind of functionality would only put more strain on something that already can’t handle the requirements.
The menus, comic-based story and little cutscenes each have their own charms in regards to the movie and the source comic material, the movie voice actors is a lovely touch but in comparison to the movie script this seems a little lacking, expected of a movie’s official game.
Despite the 3DS’ limitations, the game does look very good indeed even during the slow-downs. The particles effects can be lazy though especially during destruction cutscenes but with the stereoscopic 3D even minor gripes such as that pale in comparison to purely how good it looks against other 3DS titles. The fact that all the enemy models look the same is a big let down however.
As mentioned previously, the voice acting isn’t fantastic as a result of the apparent rushed story and script, however, the fact that the voice actors are the same as the movie voice actors is a fantastic touch that brings a great sense of immersion in Thor’s world. The music is pretty forgettable but matches the game well during action sequences and cut-scenes.
The gameplay of Thor is probably the most engaging part of the game. The combos look great when strung together well, the game is a little easy for any difficulty except ragnarok but slaughtering enemies in a number of ways gives the same great feeling from whenever you do the same on any other beat’em’up. The flying sections on boss battles doesn’t hurt anything and are cinematically pleasing.
Even after the story mode has been completed, there are a tonne of collectables to find regarding the Thor world in addition to game upgrades such as runes and costumes as well as level unlocks to achieve. Past all of that though there isn’t any multiplayer functionality so that’s a little disappointing since a beat’em’up game of this kind would have really benefited from a co-op mode.
As far as movie games go, this is a step in the right direction. It’s a shame that Thor: God of Thunder would have had such a rushed development cycle to match the movie since if this game had the time and resources to be made as it’s own project it would have been a fantastic beat’em’up based on a comic book rather than a so-so beat’em’up based on a movie. The gameplay is solid, the graphics are quite good but the sound is rather forgettable. Overall, a better than average movie game; if you enjoyed the movie, give this one a try.
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.