God of Rock

God of Rock, released in the Year of our Lord 2023, is a mix of many things. It’s a rhythm game, a fighting game, and narrative about Twisted Metal-style wish-fulfillment. I fully believe all of those things could work together to make a really enjoyable experience, but sadly, God of Rock just doesn’t pull it off.

Rhythm games are built to be competitive. Think back to challenging your friends to getting the highest score on Expert mode in Guitar Hero, or watching a group of people at the arcade do doubles matches in DDR. So adding fighting mechanics isn’t the worst call; in fact, it feels like a pretty natural fit. Plus, when you only have a small selection of characters to choose from, adding a bit of story gives you reason to enjoy those characters and their personalities.

But God of Rock is a rhythm game first and foremost, and if a rhythm game doesn’t feel intuitive to play, people probably won’t come back.

My main issue comes in the form of the controls. The way controls are set up — at least in the PS5 version that I played — is that the music board comes at you from left to right, each “note” on top of each other. Up is the top row, followed by left and then right, and down is bottom row. On the PlayStation controller, you can either use the D-pad or the face buttons on the DualSense controller. Now, I’m not sure if you’ve ever looked at a PlayStation controller, but the buttons are set in a plus shape — not straight lines. Seeing the notes and trying to map them to the controller feels wrong and unnatural, especially when you’re trying to figure out whether you should be pressing the circle or square button.

God of Rock

And this is on top of the other fighting button mechanics. The triggers each have combat effects, along with the left stick being used to activate special attacks. When you combine all of this, I have no idea how I’m even supposed to hold the controller.

The next major thing I noticed was how the audio compared to what was happening onscreen. I did calibrate the game so that the music was on beat with the buttons — which is thankfully an option here. However, that doesn’t matter when you can’t hear it underneath the slightly delayed grunts and shouts and Ultimate Ability sound effects of combat. The timing for the music and the fighting feels off, where the sounds from the fighters can either happen on time or be miles behind the beat of the song, and they’re loud enough to throw you off completely.

As a rhythm game, God of Rock fails at the most basic of its objectives.

Visually, the game is okay. However, you have to hyper focus on the bottom left of the screen where the notes are, and in doing so, you become completely unaware of what else is happening on the screen. Every time I played and won, I was surprised because it ended so suddenly and I wasn’t ever sure whether I was even ahead or not. Your goal is to focus on the notes, so everything else outside of that just becomes a distraction.

God of Rock - Ziggy's Cow

The stories for the characters are silly and cute. For example, Ziggy is looking for a white cow to be in his cow choir, and the God of Rock offers him the cow if he wins the tournament. That’s fine with me. I have no issues with the stories or the characters. All of my issues stem from the fact that God of Rock fails at the one thing it needed to get right — the rhythm-game mechanics.

If God of Rock can get some much-needed updates and have custom fighting controls, I could see it becoming an enjoyable and possibly popular competitive game. But as it stands, I don’t expect many people to truly enjoy the state it’s in. And when I try to find competitive matches online — in the two weeks following the game’s launch — it does seem like the community agrees with me, for the most part.

Disclaimer: I was given a review code for God of Rock for PS5, but the opinions expressed in this article are my own.

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