Ever since Dennaton Games’ trippy ultra-violent top-down shooter Hotline Miami released in 2012, we have seen a resurgence in the genre that once was an arcade mainstay. Many titles have tried to replicate its one-hit kill formula that made every single encounter an intense one, but few have actually tried to build upon its foundation to create something new. Developer One More Level’s GOD’S TRIGGER, which sees a demon and angel teaming up to take down the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, is exactly that as it goes far beyond being a derivative.
While early impressions will undoubtedly remind players of Hotline Miami, it’s worth stressing that this is absolutely not a spiritual successor of any sort. While it retains a lot of the tense gameplay because the player will die if they take a single blow, God’s Trigger is very much its own thing.
Levels are much longer (and there are plenty of checkpoints because of it) and there’s a wide variety of foes including many that take multiple hits and special abilities that can be used throughout. These skills range from standard dashes (the female demon teleports while the male angel smashes through cracked walls) to more significant moves (like using mind control on a foe) that cost energy to pull off.
Another unique factor is that God’s Trigger is built for cooperative play for two players. Both playable characters control similarly but have completely different skill trees and moves. The demon is awesome because she wields a slick chain that can be used to attack foes at a distance, which is great since being close to a foe makes it more difficult to avoid oncoming bullets.
In fact, I used this weapon for most of the game and barely touched the various weapons that the enemies dropped because I enjoyed it so much. When playing solo, players can change from one character to the other in an instant by pressing a button. This is helpful when solving some of the stage’s puzzles, but doesn’t come up all that often until the later stages.
God’s Trigger Review | Keeping the experience fresh
One More Level also nailed the core combat loop. Whipping a fool, then dodging a bullet shot by his surprised comrade, and then putting a bullet through his skull for good measure is satisfying from the start. There’s a lot of blood, although the violence never quite gets to the level of Ruiner, and its definitely cathartic to play God’s Trigger. No matter if it was throwing a bunch of mind-controlled bikers at the player or having them square off against various soldiers, the combat was always a highlight that allows one to blow off some steam.
Even the best top-down shooter can get repetitive after a while, though. That’s why it is impressive how much variety God’s Trigger has. One of the best levels has the duo working together to take down a sniper, and then in the following one, the demon uses the rifle to support the angel as he made his way through wave after wave of enemies. This specific example is more fun if you’re playing cooperatively, but still interesting to do solo. There are plenty of one-off ideas that are central to a level and then are never seen again. This isn’t the developer not getting full use of the idea, though, it’s so the game can stay fresh throughout.
Boss battles are another highlight that bookend each individual chapter of God’s Trigger. The best one is against the morbidly obese Famine that would try to be fed during battle. You have to divert your attention to kill its sacrifices before they could reach her, and the battle was built around using grills to quite literally burn the fat right off of her. It’s a pretty gruesome idea, but the whole game is always pretty lighthearted and has a nice sense of humor throughout. This is nice since the core story is rather one-note and doesn’t have any real substance to it. The plot is merely a means to a bloody and violent end.
God’s Trigger Review | A handful of issues
However, not all of the variety winds up being a good thing. The second chapter is filled with a lot of puzzle solving in the form of standing on pressure plates, pulling levers, and backtracking through dungeons. This slows down the pace of the game considerably and while it’s nice to have some occasional puzzles, these ones were not what this game needed. However, the fun moments far outweigh the few negative ones and even the least inspired levels in the game are enjoyable.
However, the awful user interface on consoles doesn’t have any redeeming value. As seen above, God’s Trigger has some of the smallest text ever seen in a game. It’s a sign that is typically indicative of a lot of sloppy ports from PC. While there thankfully aren’t any technical issues that I experienced, it makes upgrading the skill tree an exercise in patience because I had to physically get up and come closer to my television in order to read it. It’s embarrassing that the game launched like this as even those with 20/20 eyesight won’t be able to read it.
Despite quite a few issues and never truly reaching the high marks set by some other games in the top-down shooter genre, God’s Trigger still manages to be worth playing thanks to it carving its own path. Some of the more unique levels are a blast to play and the core combat is fun from start to finish. The cooperative focus is also a great bullet point in its favor, and it’s implemented in such a way that the single-player doesn’t feel lessened because of it. So many games within the genre just try to be the next Hotline Miami and wind up being underwhelming due to it. Thankfully, this avoids that pitfall.
GameRevolution reviewed God’s Trigger on PS4 with a copy provided by the publisher.