Back in its day, Gods was described as a pinnacle of its kind. Praise was especially aimed at its pacing, its action, its puzzle solving elements, and its opportunities for exploration. That, however, was in the early nineties – nearly thirty years ago. Gaming has come a hell of a long way since then, and with it, expectations have risen considerably. Gods is back in the form of Gods Remastered, bringing with it some worthwhile changes, especially if you’re a fan of the original version. The question, however, is whether it holds up after all this time.
The obvious answer to that is no, it really, really doesn’t. So, is there an incentive to purchase? We’ll get to that shortly. Gods’ story tells of four guardians that have invaded the citadel of the gods. The gods, in seek of aid in retaking the citadel, promise to grant any hero who comes forth, a favor. The unnamed hero that players take on the role of steps up, asking in favor that he be seen as their equal. That is pretty much the game’s premise. Simple and bare-bones, though, considering the game’s age, this is fairly easy to overlook.
Much like many remasters, players can quick-swap between the original version and the new and improved version via hitting RS. The original version has been nicely preserved. Swapping between both only showcases how much work has gone into the improvements that are in place. Though, it’s important to understand that the framework remains the same, regardless as to whether you’re playing the souped-up Gods or not. Being a pretty big fan of the retro games, I chose to spend a fair portion of my play time here in the original.
That said, for every new enemy and environment that I took to, I would oftentimes swap just to see the differences. The new version is like a complete HD overhaul that rests upon 3D-based designs and details, complete with improved lighting effects to grant it some added refinement. The differences, as aforementioned, are indeed quite striking throughout the entirety of play. Judging this as a remaster alone would see it gaining some impressive feedback. The drawback, on the other hand, is with an issue that simply cant be overlooked.
What issue is that? I hear you asking. The gameplay. If there’s one remaster that looks decent but feels massively dated, it’s this. Gods Remastered is clunky, stiff and wildly unreliable as far as its fluidity is concerned. The game offers a total of four distinctly themed locations, all of which encompass three levels per-whack. The crux of play sees you moving through each level until you reach the world’s exit door, and then onto the next. That’s your primary target, which admittedly sounds as basic as its story, but in truth, it’s anything but.
You see, this is one of those games in which a single mistake can cost you dearly, and by dearly, I mean re-running the entire freakin’ level you just died on by accidentally jumping into guillotine near the level’s end. Yes, this is one of those games. You know ’em, those games that we love torturing ourselves with via that good old ‘one more go’ motivation. Each level consists enemies, traps, secrets and hidden areas that are collectively designed to taunt and test you throughout. It’s the ultimate classic hit and move formula, warts and all.
Players will begin at a level’s starting point, with little to no information as to where you need to head to. The game has a tendency of teasing you with doors that need specific keys, or areas that require specific actions to access. You’ll move left and right throughout the 2D fields of play, throwing weaponry from afar at anything that so much as moves in your general direction. You’re afforded a few mistakes before ultimately succumbing to the game’s difficulty, at which point, you’ll begin your next attempt at your latest save-point.
This, as alluded to already, typically means going back to the start of the level that you died on. There’s a wide range of enemies and environmental hazards that stand in your way, many of which come with their own unique damage outputs and functionalities. Despite the game’s fair serving of weaponry and extras (all of which can be picked-up or purchased at the merchant using treasure that you’ve obtained up until that point) combat usually amounts to nothing more than button mashing whilst facing the direction of your opponent.
It’s a relatively straightforward concept that does become quite dull before long. General traversal, on the other hand, well that can piss off entirely. Your character moves with about as much grace and precision as an angry rhino on ice. Several times did I either overstep my mark or jump directly into a death-pit due to the game’s clunky movement and handling. This, unfortunately, is where Gods Remastered falls short. These controls may well have been acceptable back in the early nineties, but here in 2018, it’s a bloody nightmare.
You don’t walk in Gods, you stride as if you’ve shit yourself. You don’t jump in Gods, you long-leap. There’s little room for error. When we take into account that death comes often, you’ll regularly find yourselves spending just about as much time lining your character up correctly, than you will executing the command itself. It truly can be a slog. Bear with it though, because there’s something striking about the game if you allow yourselves to be consumed by it. That said. I’m not suggesting that the pros outweigh the cons.
Truth be told, Gods Remastered is a passable game at best. There’s fun to be had, and there’s frustration to endure. You’ll move through each of the game’s levels until you find that elusive exit key, before starting your trek to the world’s exit door. Puzzles of varying difficulty will hinder your progress infrequently, as will hidden areas that appear just off the screen. Pulling and pushing levers, collecting items (or even powerful weaponry), and taking care of beasts, is pretty much the bulk of play here, and it’s all blended together quite finely.
In fact, that’s something I’ll credit the game for the most. There’s a fair bit of content to get through, especially if you want to see everything that’s on offer. The answer to any problem isn’t always as obvious as it appears to be, forcing you to sometimes think outside the box or experiment. There’s also a level of uncertainty, too. Trap doors and gateways don’t always show you what’s laying beneath/beyond, presenting a layer of risk vs reward – to some degree. That said, the game is old and as such, much of its depth is merely only skin deep.
The same can be said about the game’s boss battles, many of which can be taken out quite easily. When all is said and done, this is a game that houses as many pros as its cons. If you enjoy the classics in raw form, then this is for you. If, on the other hand, you enjoy depth, fluidity, and precision, you’re likely going to feel a burn for picking this up. Whilst the soundtrack is decent, the visual differences are worthwhile, and there’s the option to speed-run the game after completion, Gods Remastered ultimately feels like a tired relic.
Gods Remastered is a mixed bag of pros and cons. Whilst the game’s structure and its pace has maintained its quality quite well over the last two and a half decades, the game’s combat and its handling remains far removed from acceptable standards. Still, one has to appreciate the work that’s gone into the remastered aspects here. It’s just a shame that much of the game’s charm is weighed down by its dated functionality.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.