REVIEW: GODS WILL BE WATCHING / DEVELOPER: DECONSTRUCTEAM / PUBLISHER: DEVOLVER DIGITAL / PLATFORMS: PC, OS X, LINUX / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
“By the sixth day only myself and the soldier were left. The bandits had taken the life of the doctor, and what little ammunition we had. Food is gone, and with it what little remains of our sanity. The radio is dead. Everyone is dead. We failed.”
Looking like something spawned on an especially dark day at LucasArts in the '90s, Gods Will Be Watching is a game of failure. In this grim survival sim, you play a leader of a group of colourful characters and try to bring out everyone alive, only to watch your comrades picked off one by one as everything goes to hell. Some scenarios have you commanding a marooned starship crew; in others you play as freedom fighters trying to maintain a hostage situation.
With a maximum of five actions per day, you have to choose between basic necessities and keeping your allies alive/sane. With every failing, morale will be shaken and with every turn delirium will set in. By the end you will only win by the skin of your teeth. The very act of trying to speak to someone, just to learn their thoughts and keep them sane wastes valuable time. Even killing your allies is a move you sometimes need to take, either as an act of mercy or if they are too close to fleeing and taking others with them.
Unfortunately, for all this genius, Gods Will Be Watching’s greatest failing is that it doesn’t get why high risk games such as Dark Souls work. Everything here is set up to ensure it will take countless replays, much effort and concentrated focus to finally reach completion. However, unlike FTL: Faster Than Light, far too often key elements boil down to random chance. Rather than allowing the player to retain a moderate degree of control and the ability to manage risks, far too many variables and choices are a blind gamble.
Those which are not based upon sheer good fortune come down to trial and error. How close a person is to breaking point isn’t judged by any measurable stat, and even the animation showing they are getting twitchy is frequently unreliable. A number of chapters feature rapidly moving goalposts or randomised elements; problems which only enhance the issue of the game being incredibly luck-based rather than allowing for skill to overcome situations.
If you are after a game where slow methodical planning will allow you to overcome staggering odds, Gods Will Be Watching is not the game for you. For all its promise, it proves to be a sad disappointment which cannot unlock its full potential. Skip this one and save your money for something else.