A few months ago I wrote a review for the brilliant Hong Kong Massacre, a game which took inspiration from games such as Max Payne and Hotline Miami, as well as the Matrix and John Woo’s infamous slow-motion bullet time. Today I got the chance to play through another game which operates with a very similar style, albeit without the slow-motion, God’s Trigger from One More Level and Techland Publishing.
However, in order to make the game fresh and exciting, in a pool of similar games which have come out over the last few years, God’s Trigger combines the fast-paced action of a top-down twin-stick one-hit-death shooter, with an RPG! Also, this could possibly be the first time a game within this genre has been playable in co-op mode (as far as I’m aware, but feel free to correct me below). I went in expecting guns, gore, and action, let’s see if the game delivered on my expectations…
The Earth has gone to shit. The Apocalypse is now, the humans are all but extinct as evil has taken over the world as well as satanic creatures and horrific beings. The cause of this, the Four Horsemen! These otherworldly beings have appeared upon the world and pretty much turned it into their own playground, Death even has his own drug operation set up! In comes our two protagonists, Judy is a demon from the depths of Hell and Harry is an angel which has come crashing down from heaven. The meeting of both parties wasn’t a coincidence, it was fate – it’s time for Heaven and Hell to join together in order to rid the world of these four disasters and stop the Apocalypse.
If only it was that easy though! You’ll be making your way through various locations as you hunt down the Horsemen whilst trying to stay alive as you level up and learn new abilities in order to take down your foes much easier. In a way, the story reminds me of Darksiders, only instead of the Four Horsemen being called incorrectly and having to clean up the Angels and Demons mess, it’s the other way around!
We’ve seen a few games with the same style of God’s Trigger recently, games like the aforementioned Hong Kong Massacre and 12 is Better than 6 are two such examples. The main difference here is the rogue-liteness of them. Both of the other games force you to replay the entire mission if you get killed, yet God’s Trigger is very generous with its checkpoint system which will trigger almost every time you are about to go into a major room or section of the level. This is really helpful as the game operates on a one-hit kill process, just like the others, but the levels seem to be much bigger than both of those games.
So, just like Hotline Miami, and similar titles, you must run into rooms and bash the L2 trigger to melee people, press Square to pick up their weapons, press R2 to shoot (after using the Right Stick to aim) and keep moving so that the enemies can’t get a lock on you and shoot you down. Almost everything is destructible within God’s Trigger, from walls to barrels. You’ll sometimes find goodies hidden away, such as adult magazines or experience boosts, but more often than not all you’ll find is the mess you leave behind. I loved the breakable doors though, you can stand behind a closed one, wait for an enemy to walk up to it and, boom! Use Judy to thrust her weapon right through the door and into the enemies face!
Another intriguing feature is the ability to ‘mark’ your opponents for death (if you have enough built up points to do so). Basically, if you hold down L1 then moving the Left Stick will move a mouse-like cursor on the screen. Hover over an enemy and push R3 on each one you wish to mark – in order. Then, as you run into the room, keep pressing the fire button and you’ll pop them all off one by one in slow motion in the order you marked them! The first time you pull this off it’s a great feeling, it’s like a combination of tactical planning within real-time.
Play with me!
In order to make the game stand out from the crowd and bring your attention to it, the game has a rather unique feature – local co-op for one or two players. If you’re playing on your own then you press Circle to swap between who you’re playing as, as you need to use the special abilities of both protagonists throughout the levels in order to trigger switches, grab chests, or get behind the enemies. What I found interesting was the distribution of experience. You only get experience if you made the kill. So, if you play a level and only play as Judy, Harry won’t level up anywhere near as fast. It’s a nice way of forcing you to play as the other character as I personally loved playing as Judy and didn’t really like Harry, but I knew I had to alternate in order to keep it fair. Let’s take a look at the characters in more detail…
The reason I didn’t really like playing as Harry is because of his default weapon, it’s a short-range melee sword. This means that until you pick up an enemies weapon, which can range from a flamethrower to a wooden stake, you’re stuck with having to get up close to kill people. You could sneak attack enemies, but doing so gets you more experience but they die with their weapon! Harry’s unique move (by pressing R1) is a powerful smash attack. He can use it to smash through cracked walls, knock enemies over and put them in a daze, and dodge out of the way of charging enemies or bullets.
She is clearly the best character to play as, if I was playing co-op then I would make sure I was always playing as her. Judy’s melee and weaponless attack is a 6ft chain which she thrusts out like she was Scorpion, there’s even a trophy called “get over here”! This gives her range and safety before she picks up any other kind of weapon. Her unique ability is teleportation – see, even that is better than Harry’s fat ass slam move! She can’t knock out enemies with this ability, but she can dodge in the same way as Harry as well as teleport through metal bars and fences.
So, using the combination of both protagonists, you can smash walls, take out enemies at a distance without a weapon, teleport through bars, dodge fast, and stun enemies. Thank god the developers let you switch characters without having to only choose one person to play as!
The game operates an RPG mechanic as well, every time you level up you’ll gain access to new abilities and skills which you can customise and swap between. There are two tiers of abilities, basic and special. Basic is the standard attack (sword or chain), special are abilities you can perform by obtaining enough kills then pushing down on L3 to unleash. These are also unique to each character, with five unique abilities each such as creating clones to distract the enemies, going invisible and pushing people with an invisible force.
The really cool thing about the abilities is the way you actually upgrade them. Each level will give you access to a new sub-tier within a certain ability. This gives you three choices to pick between, such as reducing the energy required, increasing the width of the attack, or increasing the range. You can only pick one of these options and the game gives you an up to date notification on how your choice affects the ability – however, you can freely swap and experiment with the options whenever you wish, it’s not set in stone once picked. There is also a final upgrade you can pick, once you get to a certain level, which enhances the effect even more. I love the one on Judy’s chain, she will steal the enemies weapons if she hits them with it!
On top of these helpful unlocks, you also have eight shared perks – well, they are the same for each character but you can pick them independently so they both have their own choice. These must be found within the levels by looking in chests. These include super helpful things such as ricochet bullets, explosions don’t hurt, and even the ability to take two hits to die!
I found God’s Trigger to be rather easy if I’m being honest, thanks to the very generous checkpoints and the unlimited continues. I simply tried over and over again until I managed to pass any sections I was struggling with. The only downside, if you die a lot, appears to be a lower rank upon completion of the mission. However, I didn’t mind the lower ranking as it was better than getting frustrated to the point where I don’t want to play anymore. I would even say that the game feels it may be more accessible to gamers who like the look of the game, yet have never played this genre before.
One thing I feel should have an increase of difficulty applied to are the bosses – they’re so easy. I love the creativity and the way each boss is different and requires you to learn their patterns before you can succeed, but the boss battles are over within a few minutes with hardly any deaths.
So far, I’ve got an S rank on all the bosses – I’ve not got an S on any of the levels though!
There is a second mode you can play, if you think the main game is too easy, you want a break, or you’ve completed the main game, the Arcade Mode…
Now we’re talking, God’s Trigger has an arcade mode which transforms the game into the hardcore brutal game we’ve seen with things like Hong Kong Massacre and 12 is Better than 6. You can opt to play in one of the stages on offer and the game will randomly fill the mission with enemies. The layout of the level is always the same, but every play has different enemies (from all of the story mode’s chapters) placed randomly upon launch. Your task is to take out every single enemy within the stage without dying – if you die, you’re sent back to the beginning of the stage and all of the enemies will have respawned.
This is just how the other games work yet I’m glad the main game of God’s Trigger didn’t utilise this (although a hardcore mode where you have to go through the game in this style would be interesting) as the main game has some basic puzzles, traps and the missions are quite big. As a bit of help, you bring over any abilities you’ve unlocked in the main game into the arcade mode and vice versa. So technically, you could grind it out in the arcade and reach your maximum level, then return back to the main game as a God!
I found myself playing the arcade mode quite a lot as I put it one whilst my food was cooking or watching a YouTube video on my iPad, it’s a great way to spend a few minutes until you become frustrated that you keep dying and getting sent back to the beginning of the stage.
God’s Trigger runs like a dream. I didn’t notice any frame dips or adjustments in quality when the screen was painted red with the blood of my enemies splashing all over the place. In a game like this, the game has to allow you full control with split-second reflexes and precision, something I feel the developers pulled off perfectly. Visually, the game looks beautiful, in a sadistic way. The characters are almost Borderlands-like as they are drawn with thick-outlines and bold colours, each one with their own original look and attacks.
In a way, the visuals and over-the-top gore reminded me a lot of the original Postal game as well.
As you shoot enemies they’ll begin to bleed all over the place and if you shoot once and run, they will eventually bleed out and collapse into a pool of blood. I particularly like the flame thrower enemies, if you land a shot on their fuel-filled backpack, they will explode and leave the floor a much darker colour of crimson red.
Sound wise, the voice acting is very good, from the screaming of the enemies to the fully voiced dialogue from both our protagonists and the Four Horsemen. This is combined with a rocking soundtrack which is perfect to listen to whilst slaughtering the Horsemen’s minions. Also, I can’t forget to mention the splat noise you’ll hear over and over again as you absolutely obliterate them.
The only issue I had, in terms of the technical side, would be the AI of the opponents. I know I’ve said that I found the game to be easy, but I think that stems from the enemy AI. Sometimes they will spot you a mile off and run at you like crazy, other times you can freely walk by them without them realising. You can even take out their buddies and they won’t care – although some of them do go and investigate a dead body so you can sneak attack them, which is cool. If the AI was improved a bit more then I imagine the game would become even more brutal and intense.
I personally thought God’s Trigger was a bloody fantastic top-down brutal shooter with gorgeous visuals. Taking key mechanics from games such as Hotline Miami and Hong Kong Massacre, then combining it with an RPG element and tonnes of gore, God’s Trigger certainly has made itself stand out of the crowd. Thanks to its very generous checkpoint system, the game is more accessible for gamers who may not have dabbled in this genre before as it’s less stressful and frustrating than it’s companions in the genre.
Those who like a challenge will find the arcade mode more to their liking, with its rogue-like and much harder gameplay. The fact you can play the whole game in local co-op is also an added bonus as it simply makes the game more fun and double the splat-fest on-screen. Regardless of if you play God’s Trigger solo or with another person, the game keeps the combat fair and the gameplay exciting.
- - Visually the game looks bloody amazing
- - The voice acting is top notch
- - The soundtrack is great
- - Around eight hours of gameplay in the main story + it has an arcade mode
- - Co-op fun
- - The AI is a bit silly sometimes and unpredictable
- - The game is quite easy, in comparison to similar games (so some people may find it too easy)
- - Harry's Sword is rubbish
- - No option for online co-op