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Godhood Review: Lacking the Divine Spark

Godhood Key Art

Looking past its lovable art style and wit, early access Godhood doesn't live up to Abbey Games' god sim track record, and that'll be hard to address.

Crowdfunded and recently released into early access by Reus developer Abbey Games, Godhood is another god sim seeking to create something new out of the stagnant genre's ashes, and it's partly successful thanks to its sense of humor and visual charm. In spite of these redeeming qualities, Godhood currently suffers from awkward pacing, ill-defined goals, and a bizarre unwillingness to let players guide and tailor their budding theocratic civilizations past a few surface-level distractions. As an early access title, its much too early to fault Abbey Games too much over its product's small host of bugs and simple errors, but - as it stands - Godhood feels like its missing a bit more than simple full release polish.

Much as Reus looked to shake things up in the god sim space by forcing players to guide their peoples exclusively through the actions of four world-shaping titans, Godhood similarly de-emphasizes direct control over a small sect of loyal religious followers through the use of an even smaller group of Disciples. Devoutly serving in the name of whatever players call themselves and the religion they craft (which, at the moment, can be based on the principles of peace, war, lust, or chastity, with generosity and greed seemingly still in the works), Disciples essentially function as a run-of-the-mill RPG party, complete with specialized classes and abilities.

Related: Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers Review - Perfect Dark(ness)

No matter which guiding doctrine upon which player religions are based, might makes right in Godhood, and these new teachings can only be spread across a handful of small islands through so-called Sacraments. These cultural events work much the same as standard RPG battles crossed with the RNG-reliant nature of Dota Auto Chess, and Disciples and their heathen rivals wail on one another without any player input until one religion is crowned the victor. While these Sacraments are conceptually neat, they get incredibly repetitive beyond the game's opening hours, and it becomes clear very quickly that not all Disciples and class abilities are created equally. On top of Sacraments growing boring to watch and easy to exploit over time, it becomes clear that Godhood needs more assimilation options when watching devotees of lust and peace beat their ideals into their foes.

Godhood Holy Site

Sacraments make up about half of Godhood, with the remainder of time spent at the Holy Site, a cutely rendered hub cut from the jungle after players' first apostle is exiled from their homeland over their newfound faith. It's here where Disciples can be ordered to take part in resource-collecting Rituals and stat-boosting Miracles, both of which are accessed through special structures that can periodically placed. However, beyond purchasing meager upgrades for these structures and general party management, there's very little to actually be done in here, as buildings can't be customized (or even rotated) and non-Disciple followers can't be interacted with in any meaningful way beyond completely optional ritual sacrifice. The lack of depth in what's supposed to be Godhood's core area pushes it further from its intended god sim roots into shallow RPG territory - a major disappointment considering Abbey Games' genre track record.

Though it isn't quite what it touts itself to be, Godhood certainly isn't lacking in charming humor or an ironically whimsical character. The former exists in the innately hilarious premise of running one's very own religion, most of shines through when Disciples sing the praises of whatever ridiculous or relatable thing came to the player's mind at the game's outset, while the latter is delivered almost entirely through Godhood's colorful 2D art style. Some animations are a bit rough for now and it can be hoped that Abbey will expand the customization options for Disciples and Holy Site as the game is continually developed, but the adorable visuals juxtaposed with the serious subject matter do most of the legwork in carrying players through to the finish line.

Godhood Sacrifice

Of course, that end destination doesn't take all that long to reach, and the game does an unsatisfactory job of communicating goals. Godhood first challenges players to reach the Mecca-like "Old City" in order to at last convince its stubborn inhabitants of the player religion's righteousness, a task that comes and goes with little fanfare. After that, the game falls apart into aimlessness, allowing players to conquer small groups of cultural infidels as they please. Some players will likely think that they must spread their religion to every corner of the modest virtual world in order to beat the game, but there are really two victory conditions: beat the final Sacrament at the opposite end of the map, or simply level one's deity up to level 10. In this way, Godhood slams the door shut on players before they've likely even realized their playthrough is over.

As far as early access indies go, Godhood is in a remarkably playable and mostly fun state. That said, the game doesn't much play like a god sim in the way it implies, and its prioritization of RPG mechanics over the expected joy of shaping a growing civilization into one's own image is a major let-down by Abbey Games. It's not hard to imagine that the talented developer will fix the game's pacing and other, more minor issues by the time it goes gold, but Abbey has a workload of biblical proportions on its hands if it plans to rework Godhood's deficient core.

Next: Sea of Solitude Review: The Darkest Depths

Godhood is available in early access now for PC. Screen Rant was provided a PC key for this review.

Our Rating:

2 out of 5 (Okay)
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