Gods Will Be Watching Review

Gods Will Be Watching was released on July 24th, 2014, for PC with iOS and Android versions to be released at a future date. The game was developed by Deconstructeam and published by Devolver Digital. A download code was provided for review purposes.

Gods Will Be Watching started as a Ludum Dare 26 game jam entry. For those not in the know, Ludum Dare is an accelerated video game development competition. Each contest has a theme and 48-hour window to make the game in. If you are interested in playing the original “mini-game” that took second place in the contest, click the link here. With lots of positive reviews, it was decided to take a full-fledged game to IndieGoGo. The project launched on July 16th, 2013 and raised just over 20,000 Euros of its 8,000 goal. Going back and looking over the crowd-funding page, it’s easy to see how the game over exceeded its goal. The pixel art graphics merged with a serious and dark theme would be difficult for anyone to not throw the minimum pledge at. I remember first seeing a trailer for the game months ago and being very excited for the title, so I jumped at the chance to review the game.

Gods Will Be Watching¬†opens with a motley crew of characters huddled around a roaring camp fire. Words are exchanged, curses are exclaimed at those who put these people in their situation, and then the game jumps back a year. In the opening scene the game tosses around the names of different groups and factions, and it would be completely understandable if the player didn’t really grasp any of it. The plot slowly unfolds as you work your way through the chapters. Words like Xenolifer or Everdusk Company finally start to make sense as you approach the last of the levels. As a fan of science fiction, it would be an understatement to say the story didn’t intrigue me, but the game never did a great job of giving a full understanding of the universe they created. It felt like the Cliffs Notes to a larger piece of work. By the time the credits started scrolling, I knew the major plot points to a story I wanted to know more about but didn’t seem important enough to be shared with me.

To call this a point-and-click adventure game would be a bit misleading. I would categorize it as something more like minimalistic point-and-click time management. You have a cursor that you use to interact with the environment or characters around you. Each level is made up of getting out of a particularly messy situation. This usually results in making tough decisions that will cause the characters around you to die. This is where the time management comes in effect. A hostage situation has you calming your captives while security is inching closer. Meanwhile, the leader of your group is trying to hack into a computer and the net signal keeps dropping. As you choose how to handle the situation, time moves forward, and you begin to lose control. It’s like watching someone trying to keep plates spinning on sticks who has no idea how to do it. For me, every situation ended with the plates smashed on the ground, to continue using the analogy.

As a seasoned gamer, it usually doesn’t take long for me to realize what I need to do to beat a level or solve a puzzle. Carrying out those actions is where the challenge lies. That’s why this game, more often than not, just irked me on multiple levels. It never felt like doing the same thing twice produced the same result. I understand games sometimes rely on variety, but with a game like this you should be able to count on observable results. If I fail a scenario and go back to attempt it again, I should be able to rely on the previous actions that seemed to be working. Kicking a hostage to calm him down and rile up the others should work that way each time. More than one level was finished by seemingly random choices instead of careful planning.

The pixel art graphics are what shined the brightest for me. Slogging through each chapter was rewarded by whatever fantastic backdrops and animations the developers had in store for my next struggle. It reminds you that the eye candy of lifelike graphics can be very appealing, but one could get just as much joy out of seeing game designers do more with less. Watching a character stick a knife into a cactus and seeing the pixelated water drain into a glass jug was amazing. It sounds silly, but I’m a sucker for well done simplistic graphics. Play the game and tell me you aren’t horrified and equally amused at the savage animations of characters getting their heads blown off.

Gods Will Be Watching was not an enjoyable game for me. The irritating gameplay and bare bones story impeded what could have been an amazing experience. If scenarios didn’t seem to play out with blind luck, I would have enjoyed the game much more. I wanted to be pressured into making life-and-death decisions. My right index finger shakily hovering above the mouse key, sweat beading on my forehead as my character struggled over what was right and wrong. What I got was me randomly clicking the pixel figures and environment and just hoping that whatever I was doing was going to work. At $10, Gods Will Be Watching will not break your wallet, and one could argue that’s a reasonable price to give the game a try.

About the author

30-something married guy living in a suburb of Chicago. Have 2 dogs, love playing video games, enjoy reading and writing about said games, and sipping on a nice cold beer.