Cheap Game Tuesday: ‘Gods Will Be Watching’
Here’s something I’m getting tired off…indie games using retro graphics. We’ve had enough. On the other hand, when it’s supported by an original concept, a unique gameplay mechanic and interesting characters the game could be made out of matchsticks and still interest me. That brings us to Gods Will Be Watching, which is already a great title.
The story is sci-fi themed, set in the future in an age of space exploration with a little bit of information drizzled out each chapter. You play Sgt. Burden (subtle), who begins the game having infiltrated the terrorist cell Xenolifer in order to uncover their leadership. Your real mission is to protect a research group who are seeking a cure for an affliction that affects everyone on the planet Medusa. There are plenty of twists and turns in the story that we won’t go into here.
Taking the form of a point and click adventure of olde the game is divided up into chapters, each with it’s own goal. Most will be conditional on a time limit and will force the player to make tough moral decisions in order to progress. If you fail, back to the beginning of the chapter. Upon your success the decisions and consequences you wind up with are compared to those of players world wide.
To explain the concept we’ll break down the first chapter. It opens with you and a couple of Xenolifer agents in the midst of a heist turned hostage situation. While the Xenolifer leader, Liam, plugs himself into the VR console to begin hacking the guards advance on the room, the hostages need controlled, the Xenolifer’s need moral support and the IT expert needs instructions. You have the options of instructing the Xenolifer look out to fire on the guards, negotiate with them or give him a pep talk. The hacker can be told to bolster security or prepare a power boost. The four individual hostages can be calmed, shot, kicked or shouted at. If you hurt them you can heal them, if they freak out you can send them to the other room. If they aren’t looked after they may attack you, make a break for freedom or enjoy themselves. If you run out of hostages, the hacking fails or the guards reach you it’s game over, and you’re going to cop that conclusion more often than you’d like.
As a player you are deliberately put into the position of having to make the tough choice and do things you won’t be comfortable with in the name of survival. It’s interesting and although the levels begin slow moving they usually end up with nail biting situations as you have to choose which ally is the most expendable, or how far a person can be pushed.
Gods Will Be Watching has some issues that make it hard to come back to though. With repetitive actions and single screen levels the fail rate can make the game a bit of a slog, so it’s not the most relaxing way to end your day. Having to click through dialogue blocks doesn’t help. The difficultly varies up and down every level, so while the first level will take multiple attempts the second level is easy as pie. One of the biggest annoyances is that choices made in one level have no impact on the story in the next. You may be the only character left alive after a particularly harrowing survival situation but come the next stage everyone is alive and dandy once more. In the era of choices impacting on story (most notably the Telltale adventure games) this is a distraction.
Four levels in and the story is still intriguing and the scenarios engaging. Whether or not it can hold up for the whole story is yet to be seen, but it gets points for doing something different. Worth a look, and maybe only during Steam sales.