Top Critic Average
It's beautiful, no doubt. The pixel art is wonderful, and the soundtrack is splendid. Looking at just the screenshots, I'd be reaching for my wallet. But the core game is just so tedious. By the fifth chapter, you're literally wandering through near-identical scenes of desert, and at this point I'm honestly wondering if maybe this is the point?
Abstracted through pixels, text, and the lens of science fiction, God Will Be Watching is a fantasy that captures a very real, disturbing hint of apocalyptic reality.
By pulling off an unforgiving juggling act of resource-management and survival, it nails the atmosphere of despair it aims for. But there's a point where the statement has been made and players need something more - and unlike Sgt. Burden and his crew, the player can simply walk away from Gods Will Be Watching.
Born from a Ludum Dare scenario (an updated version of which has been included in the middle of the game) and spread into a full-length game, Gods Will Be Watching is far and away the most interesting game from 2014 thus far, and it wouldn't really be a stretch to call its design "pioneering." But the true joy, above its other admirable traits, comes from the emotional trauma and frustration it inflicts on the player. Accept no substitutes.
This is a unique game, presented as a traditional point-'n'-click adventure title but more focused on strategy and planning instead of puzzle solving. If you push on and don't give up, you'll be rewarded -- just expect a few heartbreaking moments first.
At the end of the day, Gods Will Be Watching is a title I'm sure to remember for some time for its many intense moments, but in the back of my mind, I'll always ponder what could have been if they'd fully realized their ambitions.
Despite a few hiccups here and there, Deconstructeam has weaved together a solid title that will resonate with players long after the experience is over. As long as you're willing to put in the substantial effort, of course.
When wrestled away from its uncompromising difficulty Gods Will Be Watching becomes a different and wholly original beast. It is rather unlike any game before it. Scant few dare to explore such dark and dubious moral grounds, and the way it hammers such choices home with such brutal and stylish pixelated visuals is quite shocking.
I wanted to like Gods Will Be Watching more than I did. It was let down by a few technical issues, and one chapter in particular was highly frustrating. Overall, it's something a bit different and well worth checking out.
Gods Will Be Watching isn't fun. It's draining, sometimes harrowing and nearly always frustrating. Yet it's worth it. It's the emotional catharsis that makes this game moreish, the cultural counterpoint to the mindless mayhem of GTA that makes it important.
In Gods Will Be Watching, I feel bad not because of what I've done in the game, but because I feel like I'm the one at somebody else's mercy, and I have no idea what that person wants. This may well be deliberate, and if so this failure to communicate its intentions either makes Gods Will Be Watching a work of unusually cruel genius, or a work of astonishing clumsiness. Maybe even both at the same time. Either way, it's impossible to recommend to anyone but the most masochistic players.
Nearly the whole of Gods Will Be Watching relies on your ability to act within situations, but when these situations feel so limited it's annoying to not be able to express yourself freely. This makes the game immediately frustrating as its premise, intention and art set the experience up for something incredible. But the badly designed and unnecessarily hard game design stop your actions from really 'meaning' something. Gods Will Be Watching is not necessarily frustrating in its difficult, it's that it really didn't need to be.
Gods Will Be Watching is one of those rare games that deserves a wholehearted recommendation even though it is definitely not for everyone. It's punishing, occasionally unfair, and relentlessly philosophical, but it's also supremely rewarding and absolutely gripping from start to finish, all for the same reasons. If nothing else, it's a fantastic exercise in how to translate traditionally unplayable scenes into systems of gameplay - and not just token button prompts, but complex, engaging gameplay.
Gods Will Be Watching is a very good example of a brilliant idea ruined by faulty implementation. It starts off with a fascinating idea that get slowly but steadily ruined by the tedious micromanagement it requires.
Thought it shares some similarities with Telltale's The Walking Dead, Deconstructeam's Gods Will Be Watching isn't the same kind of game. Instead of a heavy narrative, the game is more of a resource management sim, with the resource being the other characters. When taken like that, it's a solid puzzle game with some rough, repetitive edges.
Gods Will Be Watching takes some tired features like pixel art and adventure-style dialogue options, and makes them feel fresh. Choices have consequence, but the mortality of those around you can't be dwelled upon as your mission is far more important. You'll question how inhumane you have to be and then, without batting an eyelid, become the efficient lunatic you never thought you would be. While the decisions feel weighty, the story is essentially disjointed and becomes confusing. Where Gods Will Be Watching is really testing, though, is in its almost impenetrable difficulty. There's a fine line between challenge and frustration, and sadly, with all of its positives, Gods Will Be Watching will leave you questioning whether its really worth it.
We really wanted to like Gods Will Be Watching. The concept is brilliant, the scenarios are tense and the story is thought-provoking. But the combination of the random trial-and-error gameplay and the horrible bugs made us want to slit our wrists long before the conclusion.
Gods Will Be Watching is certainly a unique experience, but that doesn't make it an interesting one. It relies too much on random chance and does nothing to compensate for the frustration that will cause. Unless you enjoy punishment you might want to avoid.
If Deconstructeam made success and failure feel less arbitrary they would have had a classic game on their hands, instead the game starts to wear on you at the halfway point. I'd still recommend playing this game because it does have a lot of interesting little quirks and innovations to the genre, but you'll have to slog through some poor design choices to get to them.
Gods Will Be Watching is a divisive game. The bleak story and equally dark scenarios are interesting, even if they seem to go one for far too long. The sense of adventure is overwhelmed by the blatantly apparent resource mechanics and lack of character development for everyone, except for Jack and Burden. The random nature of the game mixed in with the lack of checkpoints and high probability of failure due to forces outside of your control would be more frustrating if it weren't for the game's (newly added) multiple difficulty levels. The lack of control over events can lead many to give up on the title far too quickly. The premise is solid, but the game relies too much on chance and trial and error, so it's hard to recommend this title to anyone but masochists and those who are hell-bent on experiencing the story — no matter what.
Gods Will Be Watching strives to be meaningful. The story ruminates on how hard it is to find purpose in a world where things are often outside of our control. Many may never get a chance to appreciate that message, since the game ruins its own potential. At no point does Gods Will Be Watching make the struggle worth the effort.
Gods Will Be Watching is an interesting experiment -- a game that puts a fresh new spin on PnC conventions and delivers are pretty unique experience. But its lack of narrative impact, its ultimately empty moral decisions, dependence on trial and error, and tendencies towards deliberate frustration rather than challenging fun make it something of a flawed curiosity piece rather than anything else.
In Gods Will Be Watching, however, its rare successes are overshadowed by an abundance of design decisions that are not only frustrating to play, but actively undermine any cohesion the story attempts to salvage.