Reviewed: September 3, 2007
Released: July 20, 2007
Developed by Slovakian game company Cypron Studios, GODS: Lands of Infinity is a first-person RPG title that combines features most gamers have already experienced from a number of other RPG's. The Special Edition version, which I played for review, allegedly implements many graphical and technical improvements to the original version, besides starring Slovakian Penthouse Pet Kyla Cole as the main character (who is fully clothed in the game, for those of you among us who may be concerned parents) and includes a 2008 calendar of the model dressed in plate armor. Even so, GODS is your typical, run-of-the-mill RPG that, while lacking in innovation, manages to be decently competent.
As I mentioned previously, GODS is decently playable and could even be an enjoyable experience for players who love RPGís and donít mind tedious grinding, but it offers just about nothing new to the genre. It, in fact, reminds me strongly of some of the later (and very mediocre) Might and Magic RPG titles, while implementing a 3rd-person turn-based combat system more prevalent in console RPGís and borrowing a bit here and there from various other sources.
As Vivien, a typical destined heroine who has lost all her magic powers and must travel through an unfamiliar land to recover them, your mission is to recover your divine essence while gathering the three parts of a weapon that might end a war among the gods. Just as in most other RPGís, you start of with basically nothing, but along the way, you pick up cronies and better equipment as you do quests assigned by a handful NPCís. (Alarmingly, there seem to be a disproportionate number of quests involving unfaithful husbands and their spiteful wives, but I guess that theme works just as well as any other generic quest premise.)
Mostly, the game is linear, with new areas opening up as you complete certain plot-oriented quests. There is a limited amount of mobility and non-linearity, but the game mostly only gives you a few areas in which you can either farm monsters for experience and loot, or a few villages between which you can play merchant and earn a bit of necessary cash. Plot events, though, seem to be strictly linear.
The beginning parts of the game move along fairly smoothly, but it isnít long before the monotony hits. Monster difficulty ramps up quicker than you can keep up with in level advancement, so you must eventually resort to farming creatures in order to build the stats necessary to tackle the next series of opponents.
Higher levels and statistics Ė or even paid training in one of a handful of job classes, such as Fighter, Mage, Alchemyst [sic], or Archer Ė isnít enough, however. Being able to handle later battles depends largely on equipment, and not only does the selection of armor and weapons you can equip depends on job levels achievable only through costly training, equipment prices abruptly jump from being affordable (say, around 3000 gold) to outrageously expensive (over 25000) mid-game. The prices of the items you need just to get by are so high that you wonít earn enough to buy them during the ordinary course of events, so again, you must resort to farming creatures or playing trader.
I usually enjoy the mercantile aspects of RPGís, and the trading mini-game in GODS is simple (buy low, sell high) and probably could have been fun, but for a few factors. A more realistic human carrying capacity means you can barely carry anything (monster loot or trade items) before youíre so overloaded that you cannot move, and there is no option to buy a wagon or beast of burden to help you carry your wares. Furthermore, after you buy a merchantís goods, he or she takes many in-game days to generate enough trade items for it to be worth all the real-time legwork running town-to-town. Finally, inventory space fills up too quickly because some items can only be placed in your bag in small stacks and thus take up unreasonable amounts space in your inventory, especially since items seem to group just fine into larger stacks if they enter your inventory automatically as loot.
To add to all the tedium, you must also feed Vivien and her party members on a regular basis, especially after camping, or they suffer severe stat penalties. If youíre out adventuring, camping to heal Ė as well as camping at night when you canít see because there are apparently no torches or lamps or light spells in this world Ė is a necessity in this game, and therefore, much of your carrying capacity will already be taken up by food and drink, unfortunately leaving very little space for treasure. This means more legwork (as there is no quick travel between map points, except from a signpost at the edge of each specific area) and more time wasted traveling into town to trade and empty your bags. By mid-game, I found myself traveling back to town to vend loot every 2 or 3 battles, which used up much more real time than I would have liked.
Despite an awkwardly roving camera, combat is, at least, passable. Encountering an enemy takes you from a first-person view to a third-person, turn-based tactical system similar to that of most console RPGís.
GODS uses an attack point type of system, much like Xenogears did, allowing characters to defend to generate additional points for stronger attack types. Unfortunately, itís not very well balanced; Vivienís party will generally have to guard every 2-3 rounds in order to pull off a reasonable offense, while the enemy never has pause to regenerate points. Unfortunately, using rounds to save up points for a stronger attack often isnít all that helpful, since the enemy will be taking chunks out of you in the meantime, and the stronger attack usually isnít damaging enough to make up for the damage soaked. A tougher battle basically becomes nothing but an exercise in figuring out how to deal the most damage quickly enough to avoid a wipe.
Overall, GODS is acceptably playable, and I encountered very few actual bugs, but it has some balance problems and requires a good tolerance for grinding for gold and experience points. If you donít mind some awkwardness and repetitiveness in a low-budget RPG, though, GODS isnít altogether unenjoyable.
The visuals in GODS are actually fairly decent, if dated. Theyíre somewhat similar to the kind of graphics you may have seen in Guild Wars or other games where the polygonal meshes are simplified, but mapped with high-resolution and photo-realistic textures. Smaller plants move in a perpetual wind, while butterflies and other decorative creatures add some life to the environments, and the shiny water and translucent ice effects are some of the nicer details that Cypron included in their game. Thereís also snowfall and rain in some of the areas, but the unchanging weather effects are confined to those specific regions.
As with everything else in this game, though, donít expect anything particularly new or exciting. The design of the elven town in the middle of the forest looks like a cross between World of Warcraftís Darnassus and Rivendell from the Lord of the Rings movies. The ice troll camp looks like itís been directly ported over from Warcraftís Horde settlements, except itís been frosted over blue. The elves are your typical pale-skinned, pointy-eared pretty people in fancy clothes; the trolls are your typical giant, tusked monsters; and the barbarians are your typical dudes in horned helms and furs. In short, the character, monster, and environment design isnít ugly, but itís boring.
For a low-budget game, itís really not bad, but for todayís standards, these are sub-par graphics that youíd most likely see in a game from the early 2000s or in MMO's, for which graphical detail must often be sacrificed for faster Internet play. The animations, too, are mostly stiff and unnatural, and the combat animations move much too slowly to look exciting. Other than that, though, itís passable, and if youíve played older games and enjoyed them despite the less advanced visuals, GODS probably wonít bother you too much.
The sound isnít absolutely terrible, but itís not great, either. Voice clips are used occasionally for random character dialogue, and frankly, the voice acting is bland, delivered by only maybe 3-4 different voice actors, and the dialogue is often awkward and bizarre, possibly partially due to translation quality. The sound effects are decent but sometimes used inappropriately Ė as in, the sound effect chosen for a particular effect just sometimes doesnít sound quite right. For instance, a sound like the jingling of coins plays every time you get a quest update, whether or not youíve actually received gold, which is a bit confusing.
As for the music, itís really not that bad, except for the fact that the same music plays for multiple areas, and the clips are often so short that the soundtrack can get annoyingly repetitive. There are some pretty good tracks, though, like the one that plays at the Crystal Palace. Unfortunately, the entire soundtrack isnít uniformly enjoyable and is, for the most part, either forgettable or unfortunately prone to repeating itself in your head after youíve been playing the game for a while.
These are all relatively minor gripes, though, so if the game sounds like one youíd enjoy, the sound aspects would probably be acceptable to you as well.
For a suggested retail value of $19.99, GODS may not be your first choice RPG when there are older titles from some years ago with higher production values that offer a better quality RPG experience. Then again, if youíve already played all the good stuff and badly need a new RPG to play through, GODS offers a good many hours of play, especially if you donít mind the grinding.
If you donít mind a little bit of tediousness and the low-budget production, GODS: Lands of Infinity really isnít such a bad game, especially if youíre in need of a quick RPG fix and have enjoyed older games that didnít have all the eye candy and fancy features. Itís just a bit cheesier than most modern games of its genre, but if you have a sense of humor and find this sitting in the bargain bin, you could certainly do worse.