God Damn The Garden – Nintendo Switch Review

Overview – developed by Agelvik and published by Rtalaika Games, God Damn The Garden is a retro styled FPS, with entertaining character interactions and a maze like layout containing various puzzles. Take on the Garden of God Damn and battle your way to Badass Heaven, taking down the monsters in your way and maybe even have a Capybara friend by your side. This title is available on all console platforms, with links to each version of the game available at the bottom of this review.

Disclaimer: before I get into the review, I would like to thank PR Hound for providing the software that was used for this piece. The provision of this software has not influenced the contents of this review, all thoughts and opinions contained within are my own.

Now with the introductions out of the way, let’s get into the review, starting with the plot for this title.

Story – you are the Skeleton Bastard, a chosen one who has been selected by the God of Badass Heaven, who has sent you to the depths of God Damns World. The task is simple, complete the trials ahead and fight the creatures of the underworld, if you succeed then you will become the new god of Badass Heaven. But beware of your surroundings as there are traps, horrendous monsters and certain doom around every corner, there are also Capybara too.

Gameplay – this title is a first person shooter in the style of Quake, with a large, mostly non-linear map that players can explore. The objective is simple, complete the trials of the Garden and defeat the bosses in the underworld to escape the depths. While exploring the different locations, the player will encounter various NPC characters that will give them information and sage advice about the garden, tell stories and offer them missions to complete.

This is where the main gimmick of God Damn the Garden comes into play. The characters that the player comes into contact have distinct dialogue options, with positive and negative options that can be chosen. The positive options that can be chosen, the player will leave the NPC character be and go about their quest. However, if the negative options are chosen, the player will attack that character and depending on these choices, the way the game plays out may change.

As this is a retro styled first person shooter, there is a focus on fast paced action with attacks coming from several directions at once. The enemies that are encountered will mostly idle around, only attacking when the player is in range or the player attacks first. But there are some that will consistently barrage the player with projectile attacks from a distance, targeting the player with shots that will track the player. There are even enemies that will attack from nowhere, dropping from the sky.

To battle the monsters of the realm, the player has access to a deadly gun, with a standard shot that can be fired as fast as the player pull the trigger. The weapon can also be charged to shoot multiple bullets at once, dealing damage faster to enemies that are being hit. The gun has limited rounds that can be fired, with ammunition that can be collected from defeated enemies and by shooting flowers scattered throughout the dungeon.

Aside from the standard shot, there are alternate shot types that the player unlocks during the course of the game, with their own special ammo that is needed to fire them. However, there is one weapon that the player can obtain which is the strongest in the game, the CAPYBARA Friend, a companion that will attack all enemies that make contact with it. This friend will follow the player around and can protect the player with its invincible form, or can be told to wait at a specific point until later.

Enemies that are encountered have their own set health, with the damage they deal being unique to them. Some enemies can take over a dozen shots to take down, with others only needing one or two hits. The enemy size and health they have is not comparative to the damage they deal, as some enemies can instantly kill the player making for a slightly unbalanced challenge. But a generous checkpoint system balances the trial and error that players will encounter.

As well as the fast paced gun play, there is some platforming that is required to cross gaps, get to out of the way areas and to activate switches. This is fairly intuitive and the player has access to a dash move, which allows for more area to be covered while mid-air. There are also spring pads that launch the player into the air, helping them to reach higher up areas with relative ease. The platforming is a minor feature of this title but is most important when it comes to the collectable system.

Scattered throughout the game are golden skulls that the player can collect, with these skulls hidden out of the way or positioned in a place that appears out of reach. The skulls can require some intricate platforming and movement to get them, with them in plain sight but no visible way to reach them. The last thing to mention is the boss battles that the player will encounter during their journey to escape God Damns underworld.

There are a few bosses that the player will encounter, each with their own rather silly design and gimmick including a cat dragonfly that fires explosive shots at the player. These battles can be intense, with several support enemies to help the boss during the battle. All battles take place in a sealed arena that is opened up by completing specific requirements for them, each with their own terrain and cover for the player to use.

These battles are the most exciting part of the game, as they take the established pace of the action and intensify it by adding dramatic music, a unique health bar and providing limited supplies to collect. This means if the player runs out of ammo during a battle, then it will become a desperate struggle for survival. If the player defeats the boss, they will be rewarded with an item that will allow them to progress further towards their goal, pushing them further along on their quest.

Now with the gameplay covered I will be moving onto the other aspects of this release, starting with the controls.

Controls – the control system for this release is very simple, with the thumbsticks used to move and look around, the right shoulder/trigger set as fire and other functions set in a simple to use layout. Since this is an old-school style shooter, there is a lack of down sight aiming that most modern shooters use, so to help those who have difficulties there is auto-aim available. Overall, the controls are comfortable to use and there is little difficulty when playing in handheld or with a separate controller.

Difficulty – this is a very challenging title, with death being a very common occurrence throughout the game. There are no options to alter the challenge, but an abundance of checkpoints throughout the dungeon will make it feel less of a struggle at times. It is possible to make the game harder through the decisions made during play, but I won’t spoil that. There is some trial and error with a few minor issues that make it harder, such as some enemies attacking out of nowhere which can disorient players.

Presentation – the visual style feels very out of the 90’s, with sprites and models that look a lot like games such as Quake and Unreal Tournament. This works well as the design adds a feeling of dread that permeates throughout, which is contrasted by the silly NPCs and humor added to the game. The sound for this game is very good, with atmospheric music that keeps the tension building while exploring the world of God Damn. There is also a lack of voice acting from NPC characters, which adds further to the otherworldly feel this game has.

Final Thoughts – from the screenshots alone, I was expecting something sillier than I ended up getting. This is quite a dark and rather grim title, with the story that it tells through NPCs having a grisly edge to it that covered by humorous sprites and misspelled dialogue. The experience is a slightly mixed bag, with some potentially unavoidable deaths, a confusing maze layout that would be better with a map and a lot of trial and error required to get through.

However, there is a lot that this game has to offer, and even though the game is relatively short there is a lot of replay value here. The choices that the player makes can significantly increase the difficulty that players will face, as well as the non-linear nature of the underworld that players face. There is even potential for speedrunning as the game counts the time played. I have no issue recommending this game, it has much to offer for a very low asking price.

In the end, I give God Damn The Garden a final score of 4/5. This old-School style FPS is a good challenge and has a lot of entertaining silliness to it, with fast paced gun play, horrific monsters to fight, an interesting cast of NPCs and a lot of Capybara to enjoy. If you want to check this out for yourself, links to each version of the game are below.

Link to Nintendo Switch version (HERE)

Link to PlayStation version (HERE)

Link to Xbox version (HERE)

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