I mustn’t compare this to Hotline Miami, I mustn’t mention Hotline Miami, if I don’t mention Hotline Miami I’ll be fine..bugger. Right, start again.
A demon and an angel walk into a bar and order a flaming sambuca and a glass of water. The barkeep at this particular establishment is an angry sort and mocks the duo for ordering a glass of water. The angel then proceeds to lop the barkeeps head off with a sword.
Okay I agree, its not much of a punchline, it lacks the nuance of a great joke but an angel gets busy with a sword and that’s the point, ha.
Gods Trigger then. Lets kick the elephant out of the room first. Yes comparisons with Hotline Miami are inevitable, much like back in the day where every FPS with violence in it was labelled a Doom clone now every top down violent ‘indie’ slash em up is labelled a Hotline Miami clone. In some cases this is probably just but in others, including Gods Trigger it’s an unfair comparison.
Yes, it shares similarities, everyone has influences you know, but spend a bit more time with it and you’ll find Gods Trigger has some subtle and some large differences that help set it apart from being just a clone. And in a good way.
Couch co-op? Yes please, more on that in a bit.
So the story of the game revolves around a fallen angel called Harry and a demon lady called Judy. For reasons that are later explained they have to kill the four horsemen of the apocalypse, Pestilence, Famine, War and Death before they do their jobs and y’know apocalise stuff or whatever and the odd twist and turn happens.
Yep its a thin on the ground pulpy plot told between levels via cheaply done animation complete with fairly trashy voice acting. Given the whole presentation style of the game it all fits together and isn’t meant to be taken too seriously. It’s trashy, silly and correct for what it needs to be.
Graphics wise its a mixed bag. Rather than the 80’s neon tinged pixel nightmare (meant as a compliment) of Hotline Miami or the minimalist style of Ape Out, we have a cel-shaded style for the characters in the game with a bit more detail in the backgrounds. It all looks fine most of the time with the camera zoomed out, the creaks show a bit when the camera zooms in on occasion. It’s colourful enough but style wise overall a little bit ho-hum.
The same goes for some of the sound. The various gunshots and associated squelches of death are all fine but the music is a little bland. Again this was an area Hotline Miami nailed with its thumping electric soundtrack that brought a sense of urgency to the play. Gods Trigger has a soundtrack that certainly exists but doesn’t add much to the gameplay. I was however playing this on a TV, perhaps through headphones it might have more punch.
So far I sound a bit negative but things do pick up, honest. After all clothes doth not maketh the man and in the case of Gods Trigger the gameplay helps up the ante and after all it is a game and not a roll of wallpaper.
What we have here is a top down twin stick brawler-come-shooter, depending on your weapon of choice. One stick controls your movement while the other controls your aim, shown by a handy coloured line of attack emanating from your character. The various triggers and buttons are then assigned for your attacks, specials and whatnot as you would expect.
As a single player you are given the role of both characters, Harry and Judy, who you can switch between at the press of a button. Harry specialises in close combat with his sword and has a dash move which is useful for dodging and breaking through cracked walls. Judy in the meantime has a mid range melee weapon, some form of hook spiky thing on a chain, and she can teleport short distances. This is useful for teleporting through barred entrances or flames or other barriers as well as dodging. The two characters wall smash/teleport moves are used copiously throughout the game to solve several switch based puzzles where only one character can take a certain path, forcing you to switch between them both so you are unable to just play as one character through the game.
The game is split into five chapters, each containing five or so individual levels and a boss battle. Each level is based on chasing down and beating down one of the aforementioned horsemen to stop their wicked plans. Each level also has its own aesthetic which helps mix up the look of the game. Along the way you will have copious amounts of goons, thugs, cowboys and Indians, medieval oddities, gangsters and angels to practice your skill set on before you face a boss.
As you progress you gain XP from chaining quick kills together, performing stealth kills and generally causing mayhem. XP then levels your character up between levels and opens up a progression tree of sorts. You can upgrade your basic attack and abilities once you have levelled up enough and choose a perk associated with that upgrade. So Harry’s sword for example, once you hit a level you can either choose to enhance the speed, range and XP boost of the attack. Once you have levelled up enough you get to assign 3 of these XP points to his weapon and unlock a choice of special perks. You want the sword to shock enemies nearby – done. Or maybe you want the ability to deflect bullets with it. Your choice. All of these points can be reassigned between levels giving you the ability to essentially choose your load-out for the next level.
This upgrade pattern also extends to your dash/teleport move and also to your special abilities.
During gameplay you have a special ability meter which fills up as you kill your way through the level, with greater rewards given for chaining moves and stealth kills. Once it has filled to a certain point you can activate with a quick click of the left stick. For example Harry’s first ability is to become invisible, allowing you to sneak into a room and position yourself to give yourself an advantage.
By levelling up you gain four abilities per character and again these can be levelled up, by reducing the cost of the ability in your special ability meter or the duration of the special once activated.
Again this gives you a greater ability to tailor your character than say Hotline Miami and gives you a nice skill progression as you move through the game.
Harry and Judy have different special abilities which, along with the different melee weapons, give two distinctively different experiences when changing characters.
It is the scalability of the characters and the addition of other perks you can find if you look hard enough, I personally chose to use one I found to become impervious to explosions, that helps give Gods Trigger a sense of identity over a game like Hotline Miami.
The other string to its bow is couch co-op.
Having two players, with each player controlling either Harry or Judy changes the games feel immensely. Suddenly you can create plans how to clear rooms, assign certain prey to each other to kill, use one as a decoy while you sneak behind the enemy to end their wretched existence. The game rewards you for synchronised kills and working as a team with additional XP.
When the two of you have played for a while and you are in the flow of the game clearing each room of bad guys with brutal yet ballet like efficiency it can be exhilarating. When you fluff a plan and you both die, its fine as the game restarts instantly, which is very important as your plans will go awry a lot. In single player you just restart from the checkpoint, which are generous and numerous. In two player you have a certain amount of time to revive your fallen comrade using a health pack but if you fail to do it in time or you have run out of health packs it is back to the last checkpoint for you both.
The only issue I found with two players is that the camera can only zoom out so far and if you happen to be a distance away from the other player you can find yourself being killed by an unseen enemy who is lurking beyond the range of the camera. In single player this is not a problem as you are always centre stage but in two player it can cause an issue every now and then. It is not split screen as both players share the single screen. I found this was more of a problem on the boss battles which in themselves are a bit of an issue.
Its not that the bosses are difficult its just that they are a little bland. They each have a simple pattern based attack which leaves a window for you to inflict damage. Repeat three times and move on. In single player they proved pushovers while in two player the camera was the main issue. Many deaths occurred in multi player mainly through the camera or being hit while you are reviving your comrade.
There is an air of frustration if you are playing co-op if the other player is struggling. Too much time is spent reviving them and it can disrupt the flow of the game. But when it all clicks and you both know what to do its really rather good. Put it this way, I played through the game with my better half. This game is not her type of game at all yet she played the whole thing with me and enjoyed it, apart from the bosses. So for all its rough edges it managed to get someone with no interest in the game whatsoever to see it through. The word ‘fun’ was even used at certain points.
Gods Trigger then. It wears it’s influences on its sleeve, it can look and sound a little rough, it has its quirks. Yet it has a nice character progression system. It plays well as a single player experience and is enhanced in co-op. It does not reinvent the wheel but you don’t have to. A wheel just works.
When it all clicks it is just dumb fun. We are still allowed fun aren’t we?
Pub Menu Rating: Hunters Chicken.
Review by Adam
from a download code kindly supplied by Premier
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