God Mode is a simple game. Addictively simple. God Mode is also an unusual game. You are a corpse. Reportedly the corpse of a deceased, mortal descendant of the gods attempting to escape from Hell. Somehow equipped with powerful firearms, you fight off hoards of the legions of Hell in order to attain ‘God Mode’ and reclaim your immortal godly legacy. That’s the summary of the entire premise of God Mode, and even my explanation is more than the game officially provides to you in any capacity.
This devilishly simple premise is part of God Mode’s charm. There is no story or narrative to get in the way of playing the game – you simply jump in and immediately start mowing down hellish creatures using the default SMG in what is a very arcadey feeling third person shooter. As you combat the hoards of Hades you will gain experience and gold that can be used to purchase additional weapons, upgrades and character aesthetics.
Upon first booting up the game I was met with a bit of confusion. God Mode does not feature a traditional single player campaign, and largely pushes the four player cooperative component (more on this later). It is possible to play solo by selecting ‘Create Match’ and not inviting any other players, but this was not readily apparent when looking at the menu for the game. When creating a match you can choose between five different maps or “mazes” that are a series of hoard-mode style arenas. These levels are fairly different from one another, but after a few hours of playing, I felt that I had seen everything that the game’s environments had to offer.
You can also select the difficulty of the hoard, ranging from bronze (easy) to gold (hard). While difficulty is increased, the experience and gold earned is also increased, so playing on gold can definitely pay off. You can also activate Oaths before playing, which are personal restrictions that multiply experience and gold earned at the end of the match. For example, activating the Spider Oath will make you deal less damage, but will give you +20% XP and +25% Gold at the end of the maze. These modifiers add in a lot of strategy and risk/reward style gameplay that can be a lot of fun to gamble and play with and do not affect other players in your party.
God Mode could have also been called Hoard Mode and nobody would have batted an eye. As mentioned above, each ‘maze’ is a series of hoard-mode arenas in which you fight creatures ranging from zombies and skeletons to minotaurs and harpies. Once completed, a portal or pathway will open to the next arena, continuing until you beat the level after going through a number of these. This simplicity initially imposed upon me a negative view of the game, but as noted above, the simplicity is also a part of God Mode’s charm.
Each arena imparts a modifier called a Test of Faith that you need to deal with for the duration of the battle. Upon moving to the next arena in the maze, the Test of Faith changes. These will range from damning (enemies are bigger and more tough), to helpful (enemies are smaller and weaker), to mixed (max health is lower, but health regenerates slowly), to the aesthetically silly (the “Hat” Test of Faith). There are many more modifiers than the ones I’ve listed here and each one ensures that your tactics for every arena need to change in order to survive, especially when playing with other people.
The four player co-op is where this game really shines. Each player is granted a total of three lives, but when in a party of four, the entire party’s lives are pooled together. So if you’re an amazing player and don’t lose lives, they are available for your less able teammates to burn through. Once again, it’s the addictive simplicity of things that made me want to keep playing this. Taking on the hoards of Hades with three other random people was especially fun, and a bonus gold grabbing mini-arena at the end of each level adds an element of competition as players race to collect the most gold. I did experience a few network hiccups that caused odd enemy behavior and one or two disconnects, but that may have also been my own lacking network speed.
Outside of the hoard-mode combat, you can upgrade your weapons, special ability, and appearance. Each weapon can have upgraded damage, accuracy, and magazine size, in addition to an Olympian Upgrade that does something different depending on which firearm is being upgraded. I was moderately disappointed with the level of customization available at this stage of the game and was looking for more than copy/paste upgrades on each weapon. The Olympian Upgrades do add a little bit of variety, but being very expensive and having to be bought after all other upgrades for a gun, the newly earned weapons felt imbalanced once I had the base SMG fully upgraded.
I was also disappointed by the lackluster variety in the character aesthetics. Running around with other players online, you often want to show off your level and unlocks with the unique look of your character. That’s not really possible in this game. The harder to unlock heads are simply the default heads with various hats on. This trend continues with the torso and pants, which offered me little to no incentive to spend money unlocking these when I could be using it to upgrade weapons.
Despite its shortcomings (or perhaps because of them), God Mode is a lot of fun. For the price of entry you receive a retro, straightforward, arcadey feeling game. God Mode would not feel out of place in a traditional arcade, and I could see many people pumping quarters into a machine to play this game for hours – fortunately, we get this game at home on the PSN. If you’re looking for a straightforward game to turn your brain off and kill some time and legions of the undead with, the deceptively simple and addictive God Mode is a must buy.