Rhythm games are fun. Fighting games are fun. One would think that putting both of them together would form a holy unity like that of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Alas, God of Rock is not the sweet and tasty blend that it could have been.
There are a lot of hybrid rhythm action games as of late. It makes sense to combine the sounds of music with the kinesthetic feedback of combat. Metal: Hellsinger and Hi-Fi Rush are shining examples of how a first-person shooter or third-person action game can meld the transience of addictive rhythmic button inputs into combat.
God of Rock aims to hybridize fighting game mechanics with Guitar Hero-like gameplay. Maybe it could have been done, but in this case, there are too many missteps to ignore. Where does this fumbled mix of genres go wrong? Find out in this God of Rock review!
God of Rock
Developer: Modus Studios
Publisher: Modus Games
Platforms: Windows PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 (reviewed)
Release Date: April 17, 2023
Price: $29.99 USD
God of Rock makes a strong first impression. The slick and bombastic presentation suggests that this game had a lot of care put into it. The character designs are boisterous with defined silhouettes and striking poses. Everyone has a signature color scheme to help them stand out from the lavish backgrounds.
When in motion, every character is well-animated and full of personality. The team went above and beyond by getting a musical selection that is purely original songs. There is a sense that everyone involved was on top of their craft.
The problem with God of Rock is that the game is absurdly difficult and demanding. The inputs that are tied to the songs can vary depending on the song and can also vary in difficulty. When going against a human in local play the outrageous inputs are balanced by the fact that most humans won’t be able to land the inputs. This is a reasonable compromise that can be expected.
The gameplay has a row of frets like how Guitar Hero works but with the analog stick and right trigger, players can execute special attacks. These can manifest in all kinds of ways and most will add notes to the opponent or potentially obscure the fret bar.
The problem is that the CPU in God of Rock is a cheating punk that can ignore obfuscation and still land excess notes from a counterattack. Compounded with the nightmarish finger-twisting of some of these tracks, expect to veer close to having a heart attack when some of these battles go on.
The way how the interface is designed is also unhelpful. The screen is broken up in a logical way for a fighting game, but God of Rock is much more of a rhythm game than it is a legitimate combo fighter. The life bar is way too far away from all the crucial information. This is a problem because gauging how much life the fighters have is one of the few means of strategizing when to unleash an ultra attack.
With the life bar at the top of the screen, gamers will have to look away from the fret bar and risk missing notes which can and will lead to enduring a few sucker punches. It may not seem like a big deal at first glance, but as the battles go on, this design choice will wear heavily on whoever plays.
As if battling the CPU wasn’t hard enough, the arcade mode is unreasonably long. There are about ten characters to fight through in a single run for each fighter. After six, expect to feel utterly drained and exhausted, only to reel back in horror to the shock that there are more fights to come. Gamers will be gasping for it to be over as the tendons in their fingers get overly stretched and pulled.
This is most of what God of Rock has to offer. It is as barebones as can be and the arcade mode’s storylines fail to live up to the production values seen in the core game. The scenes are portrayed in the form of an unfinished-looking black-and-white motion comic. Characters are voiced, but the talent is on the flat side with nobody giving their characters the energy needed to realize them.
These scenes are disappointing with how lame and amateurishly drawn the style that clashes with the dazzling 3D graphics. These sequences needed a lot more flash to match the core game’s personality and showcase the characters better.
God of Rock doesn’t have much rock music either. It is a mix of all kinds of genres and fusions. Perhaps this would have limited the flavor of the game, but rock is an extremely varied genre that changed throughout the ages. It would have made more sense to represent rock as it changed over time instead of the screamo and hip-hop samples that found their way in.
In short single sessions, God of Rock can be enjoyable. The problem is that it expects players to devout a lot of time to complete 10 rounds in the arcade mode. Even when hopped up on a ton of nose candy, that is a tall order for any rock star.
God of Rock was reviewed on PlayStation 5 using a copy provided by Modus Games. Additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy can be found here. God of Rock is now available for Windows PC (via Steam), PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Nintendo Switch.