The Gods: Rebellion is an ambitious little title that seeks to cram the brutally-epic action of games like God of War down into the (relatively), small screens of iOS devices. Does Chillingo succeed in their mighty task and manage to give us a game worthy of legend? Or is The Gods: Rebellion doomed to fade away as a whispered myth?
The evil god, Zhuanxu, hates humans and views them as inferior beings. I guess that's enough of a reason to bring about their destruction, so he sends two of his generals, Gongong and Zurong, down to enslave the humans and force them to build temples for the gods. If you ask me, that's just way too typical of an ancient Chinese god, but what are you gonna do? So the dragon god, Fu Xi, takes it upon himself to transform into a human and fight against the tyranny of Zhuanxu and his demonic minions.
As you can tell, this game is very inspired by Chinese mythology, but you might say that it's also inspired by a certain video game series based on Greek mythology. Yes, The Gods: Rebellion takes cues from God of War and attempts to fashion Fu Xi into a Chinese Kratos, complete with the badassery that comes with the territory.
The Unreal Engine 3 serves this game well, making the graphics silky smooth and attractive. It may not be on par with Ready At Dawn's God of War games on the PSP, but there was definitely a lot of polish given to The Gods. Character models are detailed and unique, as are the environments in which we find Fu Xi tearing the aforementioned characters several new ones. There's no denying that this game is fairly pretty.
If I was judging this game based on presentation alone, then it would have received a much higher score. The problem is that games require more than pretty faces. And if you look at this game's face up close, you'd notice a few blemishes.
For starters, the controls aren't very responsive and the buttons are placed in such a way that they foster clumsiness. If you're playing on an iPad, you'll find that the virtual thumbstick is placed quite far from the edge of the screen, which might force you to awkwardly stretch your thumb if you're trying to move to the right. An option for a floating thumbstick would have been most welcome.
The virtual face buttons on the right side of the screen let you block, attack, counter, and use special attacks. The problem is that these buttons are so close together that you'll end up hitting the block or counter buttons as you're trying to pull off combos. You can imagine how upsetting this might be if it happens during a particularly long combo chain. Allowing players to move button placements would have made for smoother gameplay.
Another flaw is that it takes forever to level up the skills, which are admittedly a bit boring and could have used more customizable branching paths. This is due to the frequency of enemies after the first level and the dramatic spike in difficulty they receive. Enemies drop Soul Points which are used to level up skills, but the amount that you can collect from the increasingly tough-as-nails baddies get to be so piddling that you can hardly level anything worthwhile.
To bypass heavy grinding, you can buy Soul Points in the store, but why should you bother with in-app purchases in a game that you already bought for a dollar? One more downside is the lack of variety when it comes to enemy types. It's not fun fighting undead warriors over and over, especially when they're capable of blocking half of your attacks. It's even less fun to fight a lot of those big, shielded berserkers.
But if you're willing to trudge along and learn how to play very carefully, you'll find 11 stages of action that can be described as "God of War Lite," albeit sans the ability to jump. If you manage to look deep within yourself and find the patience to finish the campaign, you can step into the ring and see how long you survive in Challenge Mode.
There's a lot to like in this package, but it's unfortunately marred by lots of little flaws that keep it from being something truly special. Still, if you're looking for a bite-sized epic, you could do a lot worse than The Gods: Rebellion.