In this age of compulsory tutorials and instruction screens it's refreshing to play something like God Mode, which dumps you straight into the action with nary an explanation in sight.
Not that it's difficult to figure out, mind. This is a £6.99 ($9.99 USD) PSN, XBLA and Steam shooter that thrives on simplicity, with just a single game mode, five maps and a smattering of weapons and customisation options on offer.
There's a story in there, but it's so harmlessly irrelevant we had to look it up again. Players take the role of one of three descendants of a bloodline banished from Mount Olympus by Hades. The trio have to blast their way through one of Hades' five mazes to claim a rightful place among the gods.
Right, now forget that, because it isn't important.
That paper-thin plot is really just an excuse for you to team up with three other players and gun down a barrage of enemies who pour in from all directions. If you're still alive by the time you've emptied a set number of baddie-filled rooms, the prize is the Gold Room, an elaborate hall filled with cash pick-ups. In all, a full 'playthrough' of a map takes around 15 minutes.
God Mode keeps its limited number of arenas interesting with Test Of Faith modifiers. Every time you enter a new room, a random modifier is triggered and stays active until you clear the area.
At times these modifiers are straightforward enough; you might be granted infinite ammo, friendly fire might be switched on or you might trigger the titular 'God Mode' in which temporary invincibility randomly switches between the four players.
More often than not, though, the modifiers are less conventional. One gives you a random weapon every five seconds, making it difficult to get into a flow. Another makes the enemies larger and more difficult to destroy. Another sees giant fireballs falling from the sky for the duration of the battle. And one, brilliantly, puts comedy hats on your foes for no reason.
When you finish the map you're given XP and cash, which can be used to unlock and buy new weapons, upgrades and appearances for your character. Sadly, the weapons are fairly conventional with only a laser gun promising any sort of quirkiness, and the various different player outfits are all generically grim and moody. The only major incentive to keep going is to tick off all the challenges.
Completion can be achieved quicker with Oaths; these are seven gameplay modifiers that can be turned on or off before you enter a game. One makes your attacks less powerful, for example, while another makes the enemies' attacks more powerful and another gives you poison damage every time you're hit. The more of these Oaths you turn on, the harder the game gets, but the more XP and money you'll get as a result if you manage to finish the map in one piece.
This is easier said than done in the harder difficulty levels, partly because God Mode's health system is defiantly old-school in nature. With health and armour represented by numbers (up to a maximum of 100) and no automatic healing, you need to keep picking up red and blue glowing collectibles to restore them, while also grabbing green ones when your ammo runs out (which it will).
Since it's purely an online-only game, God Mode does leave us with a few concerns. While it's easy enough to find and connect to a game at the moment, it remains to be seen whether interest will have waned in a month or so from now.
At the moment it's also frustrating that having teammates quit out of the game will occasionally end proceedings, although the game's developer promises it's working on a fix. Given that the game's co-op only, the lack of any local split-screen multiplayer is also strange.
Those concerns aside, God Mode is an enjoyable, affordable shooter for those looking to switch their brains off and blast away hordes of bad guys, which in this age of increasingly complicated narratives can prove quite appealing.
You'll be hard pushed to find a game that offers more bullets per minute or buck, but where it succeeds in offering non-stop action it fails in offering longevity.
- Test of Faith modifiers keep things feeling fresh
- Ridiculous helpings of action at times
- Looks impressive, even with lots of enemies on-screen
- The price is right
- Only five stages, each taking 15 minutes to beat
- Partner drop-outs lead to abrupt ends
- In-game announcer's voice is irritating