Devolver Digital is never boring.
They really burst onto the scene with the incredibly difficult and ultra-violent Hotline Miami. Hotline was a tense and fast-paced puzzler with a heavy element of social commentary.
On what can be considered the opposite of the gaming spectrum, Devolver then worked on the post-apocalyptic pigeon dating sim, Hatoful Boyfriend.
Devolver also worked on the very well-received Luftrausers, an airplance-based shoot ‘em up that featured full 360-degree movement.
Despite the success that all three of these games attained, Devolver’s masterpiece might be the less-known Gods Will be Watching.
Gods Will be Watching is a brutal sci-fi puzzler with a heavy emphasis on sheer luck.
From the very first scene, a hostage situation where you are holding the hostages, it’s clear that this will not be an easy game: both emotionally and in terms of challenge.
It took me about 70 tries on normal difficulty to even complete the first of the eight total levels. Often times, this was tinged with frustration, but an overwhelming desire to succeed.
Very few games have ever made me work so hard to do things that are so morally questionable. The story is a masterpiece of a tragedy, as each success just begets an even greater failure. Every decision was just a matter of choosing between terrible and slightly less terrible.
The player, by controlling a variety of characters, is constantly flailing to make the best of some truly terrible situations. None too subtly, the main player-controlled character of this constant decline is named Sergeant Burden. Burden’s status as a double agent infiltrator in a terrorist organization constantly places him in situations where every decision means the difference between life and death, whether on an individual level or on the scale of millions.
Though the game can very rarely be called fun, success is so incredibly rewarding that it absolutely makes up for it. Each puzzle is a matter of optimizing your methods, multi-tasking, spending time wisely, and careful thinking.
For example, in the hostage situation, you have to monitor your teammates hacking efforts, maintain security, keeping the hostages under control through threats and reassurances, and pushing back the advances of the hostile guards. Spending too much time trying to hack the computers will result in a revolt by the prisoners or the guards breaching the room. Spending too much time managing your prisoners means a slower hacking process. Just focusing on the guards will accomplish nothing.
The game is a constant balancing act between actually pursuing your goals and holding off the factors that will result in catastrophic failure.
If the challenge isn’t for you, or you dislike the element of luck, Gods Will be Watching features a variety of different modes that remove luck and make the game a few degrees easier.
Regardless of what mode you play it on, Gods Will be Watching is not a game you’ll be forgetting any time soon.