By Morgan Davies
Cast of the Seven Godsends pays homage to classic arcade side-scrollers complete with over the top gameplay, a surplus of enemies and awesome upgrades, but its focus on nostalgia proves detrimental to its playability.
The game instantly throws you into an action-packed opening level with only a silent cutscene to depict a warrior having his child kidnapped by a dark wizard, and the protagonist being buried in a coffin. Then for some arbitrary reason some gods appear and grant you power.
The level design is decent with a range of terrains spanning throughout the levels and providing a colourful update to its 8-bit predecessors. While the levels look good, the sprite designs are pretty uninspiring; just bog-standard characters to fit the medieval theme. Some of the enemies look great, with menacing tree men that extend vines to attack you and… well, that’s about it. The rest of the enemy sprites are very drab and quite hideous (unintentionally), with red bat-like creatures that drop green balls that damage you, then there’s an enemy that’s just abominable; it looks like a Viking guard that is almost impossible to hit because its shield and it throws bricks at you. There are also skeleton warriors that pop out at random and just run in the direction they spawn from.
The gameplay is a massive issue: despite its simplicity, it’s very monotonous and on top of that, it’s damn near impossible. The protagonist can take two hits and then death, and it’s very, very easy to get hit. With countless enemies on the screen at one time and an infinite amount spawning every few seconds, you barely get a chance to breathe. I can understand that the old games were supposed to be challenging and relentless, but with Cast of the Seven Godsends, it doesn’t seem worth all the effort. Also, a boss battle is thrown in within the first five minutes of gameplay, and it’s extremely awkward to defeat, with the enemy throwing down lightning strikes as well as shooting plasma balls and summoning skeleton warriors. The AI is very unpolished, and enemies just wander around and fall off of platforms with no sense of character to them, making the game look unprofessional.
There are upgrades to collect, which are scattered at random in glass spheres. They include a variety of weapons (which are all identical in what they do), a suit of armour (which allows you to take an extra hit), other items that don’t actually get explained, and also a selection of “godsends”, which are probably one of the only redeeming factors in the game. They transform the player into awesome-looking gods that have strong powers, and holding down a button unleashes a special attack, which looks really great and does a lot of damage.
The soundtrack is quite good… that is, until you hear it for the umpteenth time after dying repeatedly. Despite that, it does fit the theme of the game well, with fast-paced drums and string sections that make you feel like a real hero. It does sound a bit cheap at times though, and does fall short compared to other indie games.
Overall, Cast of the Seven Godsends isn’t really worth the £4.99, unless you’re that big of a fan of run ’n’ gun games and want to relive your days in the arcade. It does look good as far as level design and the sprites for the gods are great, but the rest of the aesthetics are just bland and lifeless. The game needs some refurbishment and some more money towards it, then it might be something worth playing.