The trend, and honestly incredibly fun era of music and rhythm games 10-15 years ago is unmatched. God of Rock isn’t trying to replicate the likes of Rock Band, Guitar Hero or my personal favourite, DJ Hero, but it does feel like it’s trying to harken back to that hay day in gaming while also bringing its hard-hitting spin.
Modus Games was nice enough to give me some hands-on time with the game a few months ahead of its release. God of Rock is a fast-paced, chaotic, and flashy rhythm game that is already showing some promise in several areas, including blending the genre with fighting mechanics.
Shredding With The Best of Them
Becoming a rock god can mean something different to each person. Maybe it’s being the best guitarist of all time and pulling a Jimi Hendrix or Joe Satriani solo, or maybe it’s facing off against other musicians and fighters in epic, over-the-top and intergalactic battles. Both are equally as likely I say.
The God of Rock preview thrust me into the wild action and music from the get-go. A quick tutorial on what a rhythm game is and I was off the musical races (that’s a thing right?).
God of Rock’s main gameplay comes down to button presses that flow across the bottom of the screen like musical notes. These consist of the A, B, X, and Y buttons on the Xbox controller. So instead of using instruments as we’ve seen with the likes of Rock Band, you’re just following these prompts instead. And if you’re like me and spent hundreds of hours shredding on the plastic “Fenders”, this game has a familiar feel as the notes zip across the bottom of the screen and match up with the wailing guitars and drum beats.
Fight For Your Right
Where the game differentiates itself, is the introduction of the head to head fighting. Sure, previous music games had competitive modes, but here it’s more than just accumulating a high score, it’s about channelling your inner Ryu, Paul Phoenix, or Raiden while rocking out. There were 7 characters available to play in the demo, with a total of 12 on their way. Each one has a unique style and personality ranging from an Elvis-like rocker to a 50’s era gangster. But it doesn’t stop there, because the fighting game mechanics now kick in and while pressing the notes at the bottom of the screen, you can also combine that with special moves.
The moves are a mix of pressing LB, back-forward RT, or the classic half circle immediately followed by RT. Each character has their own 3-5 abilities that will either heal you, damage your opponent, or add unreachable notes to their bars. Each corresponding button press is a punch, kick, or block, but combine these will well-placed and timed specials and just like a Street Fighter or Tekken, you’ll take chunks off your enemy’s health bar.
I had a good time with this variety, God of Rock felt pretty relentless. I just wasn’t very good at how the game handled difficulty. Even on Medium difficulty, I found it tough to win more than two fights in a row. Each fight or song will last as long as both fighters are still standing, with the difficulty in notes increasing over time. On the downside, this makes things very tough very quickly, but on the upside, no fight felt too long or overstayed its welcome. It’s another good idea, and I fully admit that maybe I’m just not that great at the game, but I found myself fumbling quite a bit to hit special moves and combos while also hitting the face buttons on the controller.
Rocking Out In Style
God of Rock backs up its chaotic and unique gameplay with equally rocking music and presentation. I love how each character has their over-the-top style, paired with stages that go from rooftops, coliseums, and even underwater. The splash of colour, lights, shading, and details in the world is all very impressive. But as it has been for years, I didn’t get to see much of it while playing. The stylized fights and dynamic action does take up about half the screen, but my eyes are always drawn to the bottom half where the notes and combos are, so I constantly felt like I was missing the literal action that was happening above.
Regardless of these smaller points of contention, I do think Modus Games has something special with God of Rock. It’s tough to put a new spin on a music and rhythm genre that has seen innovations from the past during the PS1 days, to the arcades, and dozens of plastic peripherals. I’ll be sure to keep an eye on this one as the release date approaches and if a unique and wild music game with rocking guitar riffs, crashing drums and cymbals, and epic battles sound good to you, I think you should as well.
God of Rock launches on April 18, 2023.