As soon as I saw the description for Cast of the Seven Godsends, I immediately thought it was designed as a tribute to Capcom’s Ghouls n’ Ghosts, and in order to fairly assess such an obvious homage, we need to see what made Ghouls n’ Ghosts tick. Its arcade-like gameplay is a bit of an acquired taste, forcing you to learn each level off by heart, but even as easily one of the hardest platformers made in the 80s, it’s regarded as a cult classic. Nothing wrong with that, but its style of gameplay is a relic of the times.
Cast of the Seven Godsends gets off to an embarrassing start with an introduction delivered in disjointed English, with the basic plotline of Kandar’s child being abducted by demons to bring forth their master and subsequently being brought back from the dead by seven gods. Grammar issues aside, the plot is merely a throwaway excuse to kill some demons that gets in the way with awkward dialogue at times.
Perhaps the biggest thing that sets the game apart from its influences is the ability to transform your armour into one of the Seven Godsends, each of which has different abilities depending on the weapon you have equipped. Your light form can have throwing stars if the boomerang is equipped, or create copies of himself if the sword is equipped, for example. Some forms and weapons are more effective than others, such as the fire form’s spread shot, so you’ll quickly pick your favourite combinations.
Currently the biggest problem with Cast of the Seven Godsends is the fluctuating frame rate. To put it into perspective, the game starts out in a crypt populated by skeletons and chugging along at 30fps, but by the time you emerge from the crypt, the game suddenly ramps to 60fps. This is a big deal because the button inputs and game logic are tied to the frame rate, meaning that your reaction times in 30fps need to be sharp in order to not get hit, while the sudden ramp to 60fps means that the action is really quick and harder to react to thanks to the transition.
On the developer’s website, there’s an FAQ asking about the art style. Essentially Raven Travel Studios is looking to broaden the appeal to younger audiences who weren’t around during the age where pixelated platformers were the norm. It’s admirable and to their credit they’ve done generally a good job with the designs of the enemies and locales, but the animations are somewhat goofy at times.
However Kandar‘s design hits the uncanny valley. He’s recognisably human, but at the same time not – his portrait art looks particularly horrendous. Things don’t get better in the sound department, as the music is woeful compared to the iconic melodies of Capcom’s classic franchise and the sound effects are mismatched to the action on occasion.
Returning to the question of accessibility as a whole, I completely disagree with Raven Travel’s stance. You don’t make a game more accessible by making the art style cleaner, but rather by providing an option for players to learn the game at their pace while at the same time not make it an absolute cakewalk.
What Cast of the Seven Godsends opts to do is to have the games’ ‘Easy Mode’ be a God Mode in the options menu. Once this is turned on, the entire game is so ridiculously simple it’s almost an insult to the developer’s work. There are far better ways of handling the problems that are faced here, such as a level select or instant respawns. Having no hit box is pure laziness.
Cast of the Seven Godsends will find its audience among those wanting that Ghouls n’ Ghosts experience, but in its current state it is largely unplayable thanks to the frame-rate working against you all the time. But its biggest sin is that it has two extremes: hard as a rock, or a piece of cake. There’s no middle ground that would have made my time with it more enjoyable. I admire the art style to a point and the game had some great ideas, but it’s no Ghouls n’ Ghosts.
Version Tested: PC