Not every game has to be a work of art. They can’t all be meaningful or profound. Some are just fun – and very stupid. As you might have guessed from the name, God’s Trigger is one such game. It refuses to take itself seriously and revels in its absurdity. Although not the most original, it wears its influences proudly and does well by them. As long as you can put up with what is, ultimately, some pretty naff writing and voice-acting, there’s a lot of fun to be had.
God’s Trigger’s paper-thin plot revolves around Harry the angel and Judy the demon, who are hunting down the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse before they can… apocalypse? The story is about is no deeper than those two sentences. It serves only to set up some ridiculous and, at times, hilariously stupid set pieces. You’d be best to ignore the non-existent story and just roll with the gore.
God’s Trigger isn’t shy about its influences. It features a top-down perspective, uses a twin-stick control scheme, and you die in a single hit. Slamming doors open knock people to the ground, leaving them open to brutal executions. Guns are available but vey expendable. They have limited ammo and you’ll be tossing them as quickly as you pick them up. Basically, it’s Hotline Miami.
Unlike Dennaton Games’ effortlessly stylish neon-tinged dreamscape, God’s Trigger aesthetics aren’t quite so brilliant. Its cel-shaded art style certainly makes the game looks sharper, matching the cartoon violence and creating a pulpy comic book vibe. It doesn’t look so hot upon close inspection, though. Tight camera zooms reveal a game that looks no better than PS2 title X-Men: Legends.
What it lacks in technical prowess, the game makes up for with its tight and exciting loop. Fast and challenging, it requires both quick reflexes and solid planning. You could go in guns-blazing, dodging bullets and slicing through your foes, but stealth is encouraged. Kills from behind are instant and silent, awarding additional XP and twice as much special meter, used to execute powerful abilities. You can take as long as you like to get through levels, clearing them out room by room, but the game encourages urgency.
XP multipliers fade as quickly as they appear, requiring you to be razor-sharp with your murderous precision. Similarly, your par time, which ties into the rating you get at the end of each level, will suffer if you linger too long. This constant friction between speed and efficiency is at the core of what makes God’s Trigger so exciting. It’s extremely satisfying to race through a room and clear it full of enemies in one fell swoop, but that’s mostly because it’s so risky. A careful balance between recklessness and careful planning is the best approach. And also the most exhilarating.
God’s Trigger manages to keep things fresh by putting a few novel spins on the concept. Unless you’re playing co-op, where one player controls each character, you can switch between Judy and Harry on the fly. Both come with their own traversal moves – Harry can dash, while Judy has a short-range teleport – as well as unique sets of abilities. They also each wield different weapons. Harry’s sword has limited range, but can eventually deflect bullets, whereas Judy’s chain-whip is more of a ranged attack.
The pair play quite differently, making it fun to experiment. Early on, I found Judy to be much more effective. Her chain-whip has pretty devastating range and can tear through multiple enemies in one sweep. Also, I’m a sucker for any sort of short-range teleport in a game. As I progressed, however, and Harry became able to deflect bullets, I found myself mixing them up a lot more.
Their unique abilities, which range from Judy’s mind control power to Harry temporary invisibility, are varied and versatile. They offer some much-appreciated diversity in a game that would otherwise be straightforward. Although I didn’t find them especially necessary to get through the first half of the story, the second half features some challenging encounters and tough enemies that are much easier to deal with when you can summon a mini black hole.
All of these abilities tie into the leveling system, which gives Harry and Judy their own respective levels. Kills earned as one character only awards them with XP, whilst defeating bosses grants large XP bonuses to both. As you progress, you’ll unlock new powers, passive character improvements and more. It creates a good incentive to play the pair equally, ensuring one doesn’t fall too far behind the other. My only real problem is that the controls can be a little clumsy and they can’t be rebound. I found myself stumbling over button prompts far too often.
There’s a fun variety of weapons to play around with. Along with the usual powerful shotguns and spraying SMGs, you’ll also find mines to deploy, a military grade gun that’ll send enemies flying back, a satisfying explosive crossbow and more. There’s some rewarding experimentation to be found outside of the typical hack-and-slash approach. To make these weapons a little easier to use in the frantic battlefield, you can mark up to four targets. Your ranged attacks will then lock onto these poor rods and you’ll be awarded with an XP bonus. It makes clearing rooms of enemies much easier – and looks way more badass.
Along with the usual plethora of fools and fodder, there are a handful of boss fights. Naturally, these are the aforementioned Four Horsemen: War, Famine, Death, and Pestilence. These encounters create some cool encounters that expand the range of the game just a little bit. Although they tend to be a little too pattern-based, they can still be quite challenging, especially the final boss. Some of these fights reminded me of Furi with their precise dodges and emphasis on almost bullet-hellish projectiles.
Furthermore, the level design is larger and more open than you’d typically expect from a Hotline Miami game. There are plenty of secrets to find, including XP rewards, trashy Playboy magazine collectibles, new perks, and cool weapons hidden off the beaten path. It makes exploration worthwhile and satisfying.
Despite all this, however, levels are still short and sweet, ensuring the intense action never gets tiresome. The Arcade mode lets you run through these tight stages packed with randomly-generated enemies. It’s a good way to hone your skills, or just get an extra slice of action. These brief experiences really highlight just how intense and exciting God’s Trigger can be.
Technically, it’s a smooth experience. Outside of a single instance of getting stuck in geometry, my time with the game was almost entirely bug-free. The cel-shaded style helps to make it look vibrant, with excessive gore and on-screen text pop-ups reminiscent of Borderlands. Meanwhile, the thumping electronic beats blaring throughout provide a solid backdrop to the high-octane bloodbath. It’s pretty unremarkable, but it’s certainly appropriate.
At its best, God’s Trigger is mindless fun. It’s fast, gorey, and ridiculous. The action is a suitable stand-in for Hotline Miami, even if the style isn’t nearly as compelling. However, the pulpy tone and ridiculous aesthetic make it easier to look past its technical limitations and limited scope. If you don’t mind a bit of jank and a general lack of compelling personality, there’s a fast and frantic experience that’s generally a lot of fun. Play this with a friend or partner, if you can, and you’ll get a lot more out of its absurdity.
[Reviewed on PC]
Dan is a UK-based lover of games, music, and movies. He can usually be found buried in RPGs, shooters, roguelikes, and sometimes World of Warcraft, but really he’ll play anything he can get his hands on.