Killing in the name of.
Godhood is a game that sets out a pretty familiar and beloved stall in videogames; play god. It’s been quite a while since we were given the power of the gods along with the freedom to choose what we do with it, with fans of Populous and Black and White having to make do with what came along. Godhood is, in essence, a very clever game; it adopts a lot of what made Populous 3, in particular, such an iconic game but, unfortunately, it doesn’t manage to build on it. And while Godhood would have been a close second to Populous 3 if it had released in the 90s but it feels outdated in 2019.
The journey of Godhood is a fairly simple one, well, simple in a divine being sort of way. Before you crack on with your holy war, you’ll have to decide what your faith is all about. Godhood does a decent job of giving you enough options to make you feel like your religion is imprinted with your own creative slant (even though I stole pretty much everything from The Big Lebowski). You’re given the chance to choose what your religion considers to be a virtue, with the likes of war and generosity accompanied by lust, chastity, peace, and greed. The creating process of the religion is fun enough, letting you put together a group of devout followers who are made to call themselves “The Dudesters” because you ordered it; the problem is that other than being fun, none of the choices you make carry any real weight.
The most your choice of virtue has on the game is pushing your first disciple into one of a handful of fighting styles in the game. These fighting styles work on a rock, paper, scissors style system, with every class being resistant to another and weak against something else – it’s like if Pokemon were people. And so your success as a god quickly boils down to having a varied set of disciples who can put up a decent fight against whatever non-believer scum they come up against.
As your troupe of disciples grows alongside you religion, you’ll be able to send miracles by the bucket-full, proving that you’re the righteous power because you can… help someone drink all night while everyone else passes out. Cool, Miracles are used to unlock new skills to add to a disciple’s armoury, ranging from giving the enemy rambling lectures which are apparently so self-righteous that they cause damage, to fun and quirky attacks like the, erm, nightmare attack. Along with new attacks, miracles grant your followers passive abilities that have them unleash an attack from the off if they’re up against a particular kind of class, or dish out some defensive buffs to yourself before the fight even begins. It’s a clever way of employing the acts of a god, and you’re given some say as to how miracles play out, with one such miracle letting you choose to have a disciple receive your wisdom unharmed or drive them mad by all your divine musings about this or that.
This is where Godhood begins to fall away though. Once you’ve got a ragtag group of zealous disciples hanging on your every word, you can take them off to war to convert the different tribes you come up against, further bolstering your religion. The fights are fairly mundane affairs though, playing out as automated turn-based battles that you’ll watch the first few times and then use the time to get on with a mini life admin task. The automated fight system feels like a microcosm of what’s most at fault with Godhood: the reliance the game has on repetitive gameplay.
Along with the fights, you’ll grow your own little town, expanding from a singular fire to a full-blown ancient society complete with temples, farms, markets, and human sacrifice areas if you’re so inclined. Much like the battle system of the game, the city-sim aspect falls down on its reliance that you’ll be happy doing the same thing over and over. The more your religion grows, the more structures you’ll unlock for your aspiring city but other than being useful to house some of your baffling miracles, the entire city building aspect of Godhood feels like a wasted opportunity that settles for making you doll out jobs to your followers in order to stockpile resources and not much else.
It’s worth pointing out that developer Abbey Games is working on a shoestring budget, making the entirety of Godhood with just under €55,000 at its disposal, and while it’s easy to see where the game has had to make some sacrifices, Godhood’s core gameplay manages to stay fun in short bursts, hang around too long though and the various grinding mechanics of the game feel all too pronounced.