9 Bosses To Save the World

HIGH Using a particle beam to one-shot the centipede boss.

LOW That last boss is a S-L-O-G.

WTF That’s… a killer totem pole. Huh.

(Disclaimer — this game was originally released in 2019 under the name ‘Profane’. The challenge level of the game has been softened somewhat, but beyond that, it is effectively the same game.)

Making an entry-level bullet-hell game is a risky prospect. The genre’s dedicated fanbase wants releases to be as challenging as possible, but such constantly-steep difficulty actively discourages new players from becoming fans. On the other hand, titles that are too easy have the genre’s connoisseurs turning their nose up. It’s a real rock-and-a-hard-place position to be in, but Godstrike seems to have threaded that needle by creating a bullet-hell that’s exactly as difficult as players want it to be.

As a speed-focused, boss-rush bullet-hell twin-stick shooter, Godstrike certainly appears daunting at first. Players control their character from a top-down perspective, weaving through enemy attacks as they try to focus fire on a boss they must take down in order to proceed to the next level. The conceit that separates this from most other bullet-hells is the speed at which players are expected to conquer the bosses.

Instead of a health bar, the player has a time limit. Every time they take a hit, fifteen seconds is stripped from the clock. Run out of time and Godstrike enters sudden-death mode — one more hit and it’s game over. The early bosses must be killed within three or four minutes, with the most challenging letting the player take around six. To be clear, there are no long, drawn-out battles of attrition here. While the bosses all have multiple health bars and change up their movesets as they get whittled down, the intent is that players zip through the campaign as quickly as possible.

They’re helped in this goal by the power system where players can, before a fight begins, trade some of the time limit to assign abilities to the controller’s shoulder buttons. These abilities are powered by souls that drop from bosses as they take damage, and notably, the souls never drop too far from the bosses. Just like the time limit, it’s a way for the developers to remind players to play as aggressively as possible. Anyone attempting to be safe and plink away at Godstrike’s bosses from a distance will avoid getting hit, but they won’t get a chance to use any special abilities. Godstrike is all about staying close, doing big damage, then gathering up the resulting souls and starting the cycle over. It doesn’t just reward a hard-charging playstyle, it absolutely demands it.

In story mode players have access to ten different powers, one unlocking each time a boss is defeated. They range from shields and dashes to particle beams and homing shots. There’s a huge amount of variety offered, and by mixing and matching them, players can easily find a loadout that works for their preferred style. Whether they want to go in blazing or play it more strategically, there are powers for all tastes.

With these options, experimentation will be important given just how much variety there is in the types of bosses that Godstrike has to offer. There are monsters that zip around the arena chasing the player, ones that stay static and fill the screen with bullets, and many hybrids in between. Some bosses even change type as they’re damaged. One particularly memorable enemy starts life as a ribcage that excretes bullets at regular intervals before revealing a demonic skull within and chasing the player around a tiny island in a sea of lava. There are just nine bosses, but each one is completely different from the rest, and each offers its own unique challenges. Never once does Godstrike feel like it’s repeating itself.

Godstrike’s one clear drawback is what a brief experience it is — I’m not much of a bullet-hell player, but once I’d found a loadout that worked for me I was able to clear the campaign without too much trouble. I even defeated three of the game’s bosses on the first try, which is basically unheard of for me.

The developers have considered this, and have sought to keep things interesting in the long-term by including an arena mode where players run through bosses with randomized abilities, and a challenge mode where they can outfit their character from a much larger arsenal of powers than the story mode offers. Godstrike’s highest priority may be accessibility, but that doesn’t come at the cost of hardcore bullet-hell gameplay — these bosses might be fairly easy to beat with the right combination of skills, but anyone looking for difficulty can simply take them on without any abilities and let their skills do the talking.

While it’s very short, Godstrike concentrates a ton of great moments into its limited running time. The bosses are gorgeously designed, the powers are interesting to mix and match, and there’s even a daily challenge for people to test their skills with randomized powers and perks. It’s visually impressive, it plays well, and just about anyone can jump in and get the hang of things. While I could see some of the truly hardcore scoffing at just how much work Godstrike‘s developers have put in to sand down the bullet hell genre’s rougher edges, the result speaks for itself.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed by Overpowered Team and published by Freedom Games. It is currently available on PC and Switch. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PC. Approximately 2 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed.

Parents: This game was rated E10+ by the ESRB, and contains Fantasy Violence. No scandalous content here, just a series of monsters that a tiny figure shoots.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: I played most of the game without audio and encountered no difficulties. All vital info is provided via text. This game is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: No, the game’s controls are not remappable. Players move with the left thumbstick, shoot with the right, and use shoulder buttons and triggers to activate abilities. It absolutely should be played with a controller.

Daniel Weissenberger
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