HIGH: Co-op is a solid addition to the Hotline Miami formula.
LOW The gameplay is average, the rest is terrible.
WTF Pages from a Maxim-style softcore porn mag are the collectibles.
Generally speaking, “GAME X, but with TWIST” can end up being a pretty good design document — some of my favorite games fit this description.
Crimson Skies: High Road To Revenge is Grand Theft Auto III but with planes. Batman: Arkham Asylum is Super Metroid but with Batman. Donut County is Katamari Damacy but with a hole. After finishing God’s Trigger, it’s abundantly clear the intention from Polish developer One More Level was Hotline Miami but with Co-op, which certainly sounds like a lovely idea, right?
The two player-controlled characters in God’s Trigger are a fallen angel named Harry and a banished demon named Judy. They meet randomly in a bar one night and decide to team up and slaughter a bunch of dudes because the four horsemen of the Apocalypse are up to no good on earth.
There’s not a ton of setup and don’t expect twenty-minute cutscenes, but it’s a decent enough idea for a Hotline Miami knockoff that one can play with a friend — those familiar with it can expect the same sort of top-down, twin-stick, twitch-based murder sim that offers deadly doors, fat guys that take two hits, and disposable weaponry dropped by dead bodies.
It’s clearly designed for co-op, but if one wants to play solo, they can and switch between Harry and Judy on the fly — but actually wanting to play it is another matter entirely.
To be fair, God’s Trigger does supply the player with significantly more moves to mess around with than Hotline Miami. Judy has offensive psychic powers like summoning a black vortex that can group enemies together, and mind control to make some poor sod do her bidding. Harry has passive skills like temporary invisibility and the ability to slow down time in a certain radius.
However, even though these are neat ideas, God’s Trigger never gives the player a reason to use them, so I never did. I used Harry’s invisibility exactly once, and that was in the tutorial, and Harry in general gets the short end of the stick, literally. He has a sword and Judy has a ranged whip, and in a title of this kind, her ability to kill foes at a distance is far more useful than his. Judy can also teleport through fences while Harry can barge through walls, which was just about the only time I ended up using Harry outside of an incredibly annoying section where Judy acts as a sniper.
In general, God’s Trigger is just a not-terrible clone of another, more successful title, and I can see how the main selling point of co-op could make it more enjoyable, but I’m not one to reward a title based solely on its inclusion. Just about anything is improved by having a buddy around, and playing solo is not particularly exciting.
The unoriginal gameplay would be easier to stomach if the world was more interesting, but it’s a hard sell when God’s Trigger is so utterly dull in every other regard.
The devs are definitely attempting to (if I’m being generous) pay homage to the works of people like Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, and when someone tries to copy those particular styles and fail, they fail hard. The story is told (mostly) through poorly-compressed, lightly-animated still images with some truly horrendous voice acting, and reading from a poor script obviously written by someone who is not a native English speaker didn’t help matters.
The music is a weird mishmash mostly consisting of bad blues rock that is nowhere near the quality of most modern indies. Graphically, God’s Trigger looks bad, with cel-shaded black lines so thick it’s hard to make out any detail on the character models or the generic environments, if there was even any detail in the first place. It honestly looks like something from a couple of generations ago.
If I were to choose my least favorite type of game to play, a copycat of a game that already has superior copycats would be near the top. For those interested in playing something like Hotline Miami, the recently released Hong Kong Massacre is far better in just about every conceivable way.
Co-op certainly helps make a dull game slightly less dull, but the nicest thing I can say about God’s Trigger is that it’s serviceable, and given how crowded the market is, being competent simply isn’t good enough.
Disclosures: This game is developed by One More Level and published by Techland. It is currently available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS4 PRO with a 4KTV. Approximately 3.5 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. The game has drop-in/drop-out co-op offline multiplayer
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated M and features Violence, Blood & Gore, Suggestive Themes, Drug & Alcohol Use, and Language. The game features copious amounts of splatter and dismemberment in a cartoony style, and also features some potentially upsetting religious themes and imagery. Definitely not one for the kids.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: The game’s story is told through voiced cutscenes and dialogue which is subtitled, and the text is large and very readable, but there are no sizing or color options for it. There are also no noticeable audio cues. It’s fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: This game’s controls are not remappable. There are four presets to choose from, each with a detailed control layout screen similar to the one seen below.