Animal Gods – PC

Animal Gods is a fully illustrated, top-down, 2D action RPG where players adopt the role of Thistle, a young priest and hunter from an ancient age who sets out to find and release the fallen Animal Gods and stop an occult leader.  We received a copy of the game from the developers, Still Games, for this review.

Animal Gods

As it’s an open world game, you’re free to tackle the dungeons in any order, travelling to them via misty-looking pathways.  As Thistle walks along the path, little squares light up, and there’s birdsong.

It’s quite beautiful and peaceful..

Animal Gods - Paths

There are three main dungeons: Coast of Syn, Halls of Eynd and Gardens of Gwyn, and three Gods: the Spider God, the Snake God and the Lion God.  Within each dungeon, the player gets the use of a special item.  In the Coast of Syn you get the Bow of the Ocean, and in the Halls of Eynd it’s the Sword of Wind, while in the Gardens, rather than a weapon, you get the Cloak of Flame.

I found there was very little direction given, but it was fairly easy to notice that the enemies needed to be cleared for the transporter to become active and let me move on.  In both the Coast of Syn and Halls of Eynd, I had to clear enemies while avoiding others, but in the Gardens of Gwyn, I had to jump or warp over obstacles with the use of the Cloak.

Animal Gods - Cloak of Flame

The difficulty gradually increased through the dungeon, with power-ups for the special items being granted part way through.  The stronger Bow allowed me to shoot the previously-invulnerable enemies, or whole rows of the weaker enemies, and the improved Cloak allowed me to power up a jump and travel further.  Sadly, the items do not carry through to the other dungeons, and you can only use what’s given to you there.  However, it was quite satisfying to make progress through the dungeon and reach the end.

At the end of each dungeon, Thistle speaks to the waiting, trapped God, and releases him.  The Spider God was released quickly and easily, but the earth shook as I ran through the map to release the Snake God, and in the case of the Lion God, I had to jump a few more hurdles to release his bonds.

Animal Gods - Coast of Syn

Each dungeon had a different look and feel, which I really liked.

From one extreme to the other, the Coast of Syn was watery blues and cream, and felt surprisingly peaceful.. while the Halls of Eynd felt more menacing with clouds of green that screamed poison, jagged edges reminiscent of sharp teeth, and messages on the wall, as well as more jarring music.

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After clearing the first dungeon, I was returned to the misty pathways, and a new door opened up.  This led to an overworld / village area, but as there was still no direction being given, I just felt as if I was missing something.  “Husks” spoke to me and disappeared, with pathways remaining closed to me.  I found two husks that seemed to hint at a quest to reunite them, but there seemed nothing I could do with them.

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In the dungeons, I also discovered diaries by a girl called Juliette, hinting at another story.  In the menacing Halls of Eynd I also found the first diary entries from a Scientist Sven, talking about experiments and specimens.. human specimens..

Once all three dungeons were complete, I returned to the Overworld and the Final Chapter.  More of the story was laid out here, via messages and diary entries, and after fighting and jumping my way to the end of the level, I met a horribly distorted figure in the “One God” envisioned by the cult leader..

Animal Gods - One God

I still felt I was missing something about the Overworld’s village, e.g. the Husks and buildings I’d not been able to explore.  Maybe that will clear up on another playthrough, though.

While Animal Gods is a short game, it’s easy to pick up, satisfying to play, with an interesting non-linear story.  The regular mode has frequent checkpointing and no penalties for death, but on completing the game, a Lives-09 mode was unlocked: for players who like a challenge, this mode gives the player just 9 lives to complete the game with!

Animal Gods is due for release on 12th October on Steam for PC, Mac and Linux, with a Wii U version to follow.

4/5

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