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Nelson Schneider's Video Game Reviews (395)

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Indivisible 3/5
Final Fantasy XIV Onlin... 2/5
A Total War Saga: Troy 3/5
Stardew Valley 3/5
Soulcalibur VI 4.5/5
Owlboy 3/5
Battletech 3/5
Bloodstained: Ritual of... 3/5
The Legend of Zelda: A ... 4/5
Hob 3/5
Assassin's Creed Odyssey 4.5/5
Ittle Dew 2 4.5/5
Luigi's Mansion 3 4/5
Xuan-Yuan Sword: The Ga... 3/5
Star Trek: Bridge Crew 3.5/5
King's Quest: The Compl... 3/5
Strange Brigade 4/5
Metro Exodus 3.5/5
Evoland Legendary Editi... 4.5/5
Evoland 2 4.5/5
Burokku Girls 2/5
Finding Paradise 4.5/5
To the Moon 4/5
Marvel: Ultimate Allian... 2.5/5
Valley 4/5

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The Fall of Gods   PC (Steam) 

An Archetypal Indie    3.5/5 stars

Way back in 2008, Microsoft, in a moment of salience, realized that Independent Games were becoming a Big Deal. Their response to this rising movement was to bring their XNA game development platform to Xbox Live, allowing newbies and enthusiasts of all stripes to produce and sell Indie games on Xbox live with minimal investment of money and experience. The Xbox Indie Marketplace exploded with submissions, rising to over 3000 in just a few years, while at the same time, few of these games found any real traction. Before Microsoft shuttered the platform in 2017, the Xbox Indie Marketplace became known as a hive of scum and villainy worse than any mobile phone app store or even the Indie-centric marketplace on PC of the time, Desura, which, itself, would disappear in 2016.

One Indie development team, Geex, based in France, took to the XNA framework in earnest, spending 2000+ hours creating “The Fall of Gods,” an homage to classic ‘Legend of Zelda’ and ‘Secret of Mana’ titles of the 16-bit era, which they attempted to sell on both the ill-fated Xbox Indie Marketplace and Desura. It was, at $1, the only thing I ever purchased off Desura, but I never got around to playing it or even downloading it before the service tanked. When the game came to Steam in 2015, I was able to snag a new license during a sale, and have finally gotten around to skimming it off the surface of my backlog.

According to the developer, Geex, “The Fall of Gods” is built in a proprietary XNA engine they call the GeexEngine. However, all of the artistic assets used are quite obviously RPG Maker materials. True to their intentions, “The Fall of Gods” is a traditional top-down Action/Adventure with RPG Elements in the same vein as the ‘Zelda’ and ‘Mana’ series. However, the camera can be zoomed out to an almost hilarious degree, making everything on-screen very small, but allowing for unprecedented peripheral vision during gameplay. Aside from that single noteworthy deviance, “The Fall of Gods” is a very average-looking, very RPG-Maker-looking Indie game.

Audiowise, “The Fall of Gods” likewise relies on canned music and sound effects, but is at least remarkably consistent in their usage. As we, as gamers, have been trained by the ‘Zelda’ series, there’s a consistent jingle that plays when making a new discovery or solving a puzzle. The music selection is well-picked, if rather generic. And while the game is unvoiced, there are occasional moments where characters will shout an affirmative in a way that is both annoying and hilarious. Audio quality is somewhat spotty, overall, though, as the game’s sound tends to crackle with alarming frequency and for no good reason.

Technically, “The Fall of Gods” isn’t exactly something to be proud of. While, as a port of a game originally designed in an Xbox 360 development suite, it naturally features native Xinput support, it’s PC Typewriter Race support is tacked-on somewhat half-assedly, resulting in a mouse cursor that doesn’t auto-hide itself when a controller is detected. Furthermore, the number of small glitches and bugs throughout the game is unpleasantly prolific. These range from glitching into walls and other bits of impassable environmental objects to boss rooms the player can re-enter after defeating the boss, but then can’t leave, to quest markers on the map showing the wrong icon, to flat-out crashes. To be fair, “The Fall of Gods” is fairly large and complex for an Indie game of this style, but that’s no reason for it to have as many bugs as a Bethesda Sandbox.

“The Fall of Gods” isn’t going to win any points for originality. It’s a basic Chosen One narrative where our self-named hero, on his coming of age birthday, is sent to a special shrine, where all new adults go, to see if he’s capable of using magic. If he is, he’ll be marked as the Chosen One and sent to the council of Ordanims in order to learn about his quest to reunite the Mighty Energies of the world and defeat the returned Darkness.

Of course, hero-boy IS the Chosen One, and thus sets out of a worldwide journey to find the fourn Mighty Energies (read: the four elements of Classical tradition). Along the way, he will also meet a number of townsfolk, help them solve their petty issues, trade objects with other people, explore dungeons, and all of that.

While the story and narrative are mostly comprehensible, the biggest flaw in “The Fall of Gods” from a writing perspective (aside from the lack of originality) is the fact that the development team is French, and thus the English translation suffers quite heavily from English as a Second Language Syndrome. There are gobs of typos and tortured sentences throughout, making any impact the story might still maintain fly right out the window.

The developers at Geex claim that “The Fall of Gods” is a 10-hour game… and they nailed their estimation to a tee. I spent almost exactly 10 hours with it, even though I didn’t quite manage to finish all of the side content due to a combination of bugs and lost-in-translation instructions.

Also noteworthy is that “The Fall of Gods” is actually a two-part game, and the original Xbox 360 Indie Marketplace release only contained the first episode. The Steam version contains both halves of the game for one price.

“The Fall of Gods” is essentially what the developers at Geex advertised: A top-down Action/Adventure with RPG Elements that plays similarly to a mash-up of “The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past” and “The Secret of Mana.” Menus are ‘Mana’-inspired rings where the large number of weapons, armors, items, and spells reside (each type in its own, separate ring), and there’s a regional map available (once the player acquires the map for a given region, and there are half a dozen of them) at the tap of a button. Fast travel is handled via a hot-air balloon that can be hired from certain locations in the early game, but summoned at will in the late game.

As the player explores, they will slash enemies and bushes in search of experience and money. Unlike ‘Zelda,’ “The Fall of Gods” leans further toward being an RPG, without actually getting there, due to the fact that the player earns experience points and must spend them on four different upgrade options for their character focusing either on Strength (which improves weapon damage and player health), Dexterity (which improves accuracy and dodging – yes, this is one of those games where you can clearly hit a monster with a weapon, and instead of damage numbers, the word ‘miss’ will appear, though it rarely happens), and Wisdom and Intelligence, which do the same things, except for Magic instead of weapons.

While exploring the overworld, there are gobs of secrets to uncover, many of which rely on using the correct spell or weapon, but with no actual guidance on which of the player’s many, many spells and weapons will do the trick, necessitating trial-and-error gameplay. This puzzle solving follows the player into the game’s variety of dungeons, each of which culminates in a boss battle that revolves around using the correct tool instead of memorizing patterns.

“The Fall of Gods” is a love letter to 16-bit Action/Adventure games that largely hits all the right notes, but can’t quite overcome the shortcomings of the engine or the language barrier between the dev team and the rest of the world. Still, you could do far worse for your $3 (or less, if you wait for a sale) if you’re itching for a retro romp. It’s unfortunate that the development team at Geex has languished instead of refining their craft, as their hearts were in the right place, they just needed some more practice.

Presentation: 3/5
Story: 3/5
Gameplay: 4/5
Overall (not an average): 3.5/5



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