Gods Will Be Watching Review

Better make sure there's enough for everyone
  • Developer: Deconstructeam
  • Publisher: Devolver Digital
  • Release Date: 24 July 2014
  • Time played: 5 hours

When I originally read about the game, Gods Will Be Watching the first thing I thought was "Hey! They stole my idea!" Basically, I'm always thinking about ideas for games although I've never actually got around to actually implementing the ideas - meaning I'll let Deconstructeam get away with stealing my idea... this time.

But seriously, after playing games like The Organ Trail (which is inspired by the classic The Oregon Trail) I was thinking of making a similar game where you'd have to survive for a certain amount of time with a group of characters you can get to know better on an alien planet before being rescued - well seems like one of the scenarios in Gods Will Be Watching is exactly that. Consequently, I was curious to see how Deconstructeam went about implementing it and whether it was actually any fun or not.

Plot (4/5)
Okay the game's chapters are a bit all over the place and they don't seem to follow any chronological order. Also, I can't really tell you too much about the plot without revealing major spoilers. What I can tell you is that in the first chapter of the game you play a fellow called "Abraham" who is with a bunch of terrorists that work for an organisation called "Xenolifer". They are in the midst of stealing some data from a nation called the Hollistic Empire, data about a virus called the Medusea virus. The first chapter is all about how you handle the hostage situation but subsequent chapters will explain what happens following the hostage situation and also how Abraham became a legend.

Since just about all the chapters in the game have life or death scenarios, usually where you're responsible for the lives of others, this means you do tend to take notice of the story and its characters. You genuinely want to learn more about who is with you since (as cold as it sounds) if it comes down to it, you may have to choose whose life is worth saving over others.

The only criticism I have with the game is its ending. I'm not going to spoil it for you since some people have considered it "deep" whereas others have considered it "nihilistic" and "lazy" - but you'll just have to experience it for yourself. I tend to agree with the camp saying it's "nihilistic" and "lazy", and while you can't always have a happy ending, this ending seems like neither a happy or sad ending - it's just nothing. There is no ending (actually I may have given too much of a hint just then, so no more about the ending :)).

Gameplay (3/5)
In terms of interface, the game is very simple to control. It's basically all mouse-driven and works a bit like a Visual Novel or a digital version of a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure. Great if you're one who prefers using a mouse to play games (which I do). Unlike a Visual Novel though that usually only takes into account which choices you make in order to change which way your story heads, Gods Will Be Watching makes use of stats to determine who dies, who lives and whether you ultimately succeed or fail.

While I generally liked the ethical dilemmas they presented in the game (they always seemed to keep me on the edge of my seat), especially the one where you have to guide a unit back to base in a hostile, unforgiving desert, the game is pretty challenging, perhaps too challenging, especially if played on Original difficulty. And that's even before you take into consideration that you're also up against the Random Number Generator God too. What makes matters even worse is that failing means restarting the chapter right from the start. Not cool if the only reason you failed is because you didn't get the right dice roll (and it's not like you can save just before dice roll checks are performed anyway)!

If you do manage to complete the chapters though, one thing I do like is how they've managed to emulate Telltale Games by showing statistics at the end of each chapter. These statistics give you an idea on what other players decided to do and whether you were either too soft or too "pragmatic".

This is where it all starts - well sort of

Sound (5/5)
There's no voice acting in the game but the sound effects used are fine.

Music (4/5)
It's a pity that the epic sci-fi soundtrack by Pablo "Fingerspit" Ruiz couldn't be performed by a live orchestra or at least used live instruments more often as it would've definitely benefited from it as a result. The soundtrack as it stands is still pretty good though with my favourite being "Legend".

Graphics (2/5)
The game has basic pixelart graphics. While I don't mind them at all there will be many that don't.

Replay (1/5)
I struggled with the random nature and the difficulty when I played the game on its default or original difficulty level. In fact I spent thirty minutes getting nowhere on the first chapter. Eventually I chose the easier version of the Original difficulty (Original Light I believe) and despite this difficulty level still having random elements, it seemed less severe. In fact, there are three other difficulty levels to pick from besides the two already mentioned: Puzzle Mode, Puzzle Mode - Light and Narrative. Basically the Puzzle Mode difficulty levels get rid of the random nature of the original difficulty levels altogether and Narrative mode is for those who just want to enjoy the story. All these extra difficulty levels didn't ship with the release of the game and were only added after due to reports mentioning how difficult the original difficulty level was.

Ultimately, I wasn't really satisfied with the ending (as you all know) so despite there being extra achievements to unlock depending on how well you fared on particular chapters (which I believe is one of the best things they did with this game - unlike the boring, super-easy "achievements" you get with Telltale's The Walking Dead), I wasn't motivated enough to play the game again. At least not yet.

Polish (4/5)
For a game that is heavily reliant on text you'd expect there to be a minimal number of typos and spelling mistakes but there are unfortunately quite a few in this game. It's true that the developers aren't native English speakers, so we should cut them a bit of slack, but it cannot be ignored altogether.

I was also mislead a bit with respect to how you skip cutscenes. On the first level you can achieve this by holding the right mouse button but on subsequent chapters this doesn't seem to work, making me believe you couldn't skip cutscenes on any chapter except the first. The reality is you can skip the cutscenes if you bring up the pause menu but this was never mentioned in the first chapter.

Score – 6/10

The various ethical dilemmas you'll face in Gods Will Be Watching will keep you on the edge of your seat and I especially liked the one set in the desert: managing a squad of soldiers with limited ammo/water in enemy territory would be a good premise for a game of its own. Unfortunately, the ending to the game is pretty disappointing so if you're wanting to play a game that offers you closure once you finally complete it, Gods Will Be Watching isn't one of them. It's also highly recommended you play on Original Light difficulty as the Original difficulty level can be rage inducing.

Gods Will Be Watching is available from these retailers:

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[ LINK: Official Gods Will Be Watching website ]