I picked up Gods Will Be Watching the other day. I was impressed by the trailer, the art design, and some of the buzz I heard surrounding it. I heard it described “bad decision” simulator, where you're constantly confronted with catch-22 situations and equally unappealing options, where the “right: answer was a pipe dream and you mostly were just trying to be “less wrong”.
Sadly, that's not the case. There might not be plenty of “right” answers in Gods Will Be Watching, but there sure as hell are a lot of “WRONG, TRY AGAIN STUPID!” ones. The high tension emotional stakes and nervous energy of a hostage situation or medical emergency tend to run out of gas sometime around the fifth or sixth try in a row where everything turns to shit not even halfway through charging your hack bar or running up your antidote meter (what is it with this game and big computer screens with count-downs?).
Arbitrary game overs, painful trial and error, and random flukes make up most of the gameplay experience. The scenarios themselves are terribly repetitive (endure days and days of torture by lying, begging, and confessing without getting killed, mix up antidotes and dig out a hole by shuffling your team about, etc). They'd get to be a chore only doing them once or twice. The fact that it will probably take you several attempts just to make headway on each of them is almost unbelievable.
The worst sin however is that for a game based on story telling and dialog, they didn't bother to make much of either. In a SUCESSFUL run of a scenario you are likely to run into repeated loops of painfully stilted and poorly written dialog. When you consider how many times you'll likely have to try these levels, you end up mashing the left click button to skip it all so much you'll wear a hole in your mouse.
The characters are generic and the game doesn't give you much reason to care for any of them. There isn't a lot done to make you feel like the hostages are anything more than resources to spend (despite giving you stats at the end that wag their finger at you if you killed any of them), or any time spent making your research team feel like anything other than circulatory systems to shoot unstable compounds into. You're supposed to give a shit about your player character Sgt. Burden (get it, like the Burden of choice, huh huh, CLEVER!) and his army pal Jack, but with the macho 80's dialog they give them and the limited back story, it's hard to form a bond.
It's even harder when the game doesn't even seem to be taking itself seriously. During the torture sequence of Chapter 2 in my game, Jack was beaten to death while trying to think up a lie to tell our captors. My character spent the next three nights having conversations (the same he would have had he been alive) with Jack's ghost/imaginary figment. Ok, fair enough, they still needed to find a way to make that sequence work and while it seems lazy to just give GhostJack the same dialog as LiveJack, I can deal with it.
In Chapter 3, Jack was alive and well to help me play fetch with the dog and dig our way out of a collapsed research station. No explanation offered.
The Gods Will Be Watching? They can watch me uninstall and forget this game.