It’s not often that I pick up a game that I think that I’ll like and I end up having some issues with it. “Destiny” was one, “Watch_Dogs” was another. But I was really excited for “Gods Will Be Watching,” mainly because I’m a fan of developers Devolver Digital, and Deconstructeam was working with them.
“Gods Will Be Watching” is a very simple point-and-click game that becomes far more complicated when dealing with extremely tense situations and subtle body-language gameplay.
Far in the future, you play as Burden, a man trying to survive while working undercover. His actions will either keep his team alive, or leave him as the sole survivor.
Let’s be honest. That sounds like a really cool game, and the grit and interesting gameplay all lend themselves well to this interesting world. I have to say that I’m quite taken with the premise as well as the entire idea of the game.
From hostage situations to surviving interrogation, the game puts you in many scenarios where you have to make quick decisions to either hold out just a little bit longer or assert your will. Each decision has consequences, and can lead to a hostage running for their life in fear or your partner dying under the pressure of interrogation.
Of course there are more missions than those, but I’ll level with you right now. I spent five hours on this game on Original difficulty, the one designed to give the most authentic experience with both challenge in puzzles and narrative in story, and I still can’t get past the second chapter.
I know what you’re thinking, “John, how can you do a review of a game that you haven’t beaten?”
Well, this is not really a review so much as a commentary on the game. Which might also be a review. But let’s put that to the side for now.
Where “Gods Will Be Watching” falls flat is in its gameplay. For example, in the second chapter, you have to memorize how long you have to hold out during each segment, and then calculate how many confessions you’re allowed, how much pain each character can take, and what item to ask for from Liam who comes at the end of each day to help the heroes.
I’d be all for this type of gameplay if it weren’t for the fact that one of the segments ist Russian Roulette. I’m serious. One of them is straight up a one in seven chance of getting your head blown off. In my mind, there’s no strategy there. It’s just straight up guessing, luck and hoping.
While this makes a very interesting and tense experience, giving the player the feeling of being under someone’s control in a situation, it is a hard thing to sell to a player as fun gameplay.
Memorization can be fun. So can dying a lot to figure things out through trial and error. “Hotline Miami” had all of these things from memorizing guard positions to one-shot kills for the main character. And that worked.
Why doesn’t it work here? I think it doesn’t work due to the fact that the user has to go through the entire mission each time to get to a certain point, doing everything right, only to be thwarted by sheer and utter chance.
Maybe I’m wrong Maybe there is a way to work through that section. But I’ve looked at multiple guides for this game that’s been out for a few months now and each one says the same thing, “Just pray you don’t get shot that day.”
As for the first chapter, I didn’t feel this frustration. Sure, I’ve yet to do it with all the hostages surviving save for one. Sure I’ve died a lot in that mission. But I knew why things went wrong, and I felt like I could have prevented it.
The interrogation scene has those moments, when you can lie to save your skin or give a little information to make them back off. Begging may work too. But when you hit Russian Roulette, it literally seems like all of that planning and strategy goes out the window.
So take note. You can make your player go through death and constantly trying to solve a puzzle. “Dark Souls” seems to be doing that pretty well. You can make the player feel despair and anxiety, and that is where “Gods Will Be Watching” excels in its use of character body language and quick action.
But making the player so frustrated, when they are trying everything, and spend four hours on a single level? You may have done something wrong.
“John, why don’t you try playing at an easier difficulty.” You’re right. I could. But that’s not the point.
I shouldn’t have to handicap the game to get through it. Right? It should be doable. And it is! I’ve seen people online do it! So why can’t I do it the same way they did? Blind luck? Or am I really that bad?
Most of you are probably voting for me being that bad.
“Gods Will Be Watching” is available now on Steam.