Did you play T2X and get given a thirst for A. Campaigns of multiple fan missions that B. Involve a protagonist other than Garrett? You should play Godbreaker. Seriously. It's damn good.
Right off the bat something I will say is that this is a three-mission campaign. Yes there are "four missions", but one of them is a two minute long glorified cutscene with a single point of interactivity so don't come in looking for four full-length missions. To avoid unnecessary spoilers I shan't explicitly mention which mission it is, so understand when I say "Mission 1, Mission 2 and Mission 3" I mean "The first, second and third *playable* missions."
I decided to play Godbreaker after ultimately concluding that its prequel, RandomTaffer and Marbleman's Pilgrim's Feast, was my second favourite FM from the 20th Anniversary contest, and really liking its protagonist, the aged, Sean Connery-voiced Conall. In these respects Godbreaker does not disappoint; RandomTaffer's level design was just as exemplary three years ago, and though his voice leaves a little more to be desired (presumably because MasterThief3 wasn't as practiced in his Connery impression), Conall is nonetheless just as much a delight; a sneaky old grandad who screwed up because he was trying to show off that he's still got it and now needs to plan conclusively for his retirement- if his enemies allow him to get there.
Mission 1 is a pretty simple affair with simple objectives, even on expert. Where it shines is in its use of very small space to pack a massive amount of content in, stacked and squeezed into multiple levels accessed via multiple lateral egresses- a design logic that RandomTaffer obviously wants to familiarise you with given how much it will ultimately turn up in Mission 3. The story is simple: People who are trying to murder Conall are trashing his house. Conall left some things in his house that he really needs to get before he skips town to lay low. The hardest part of the mission is probably getting out of the starting hideout without alerting the guards below; past that, it's just endless rooftop fun in a tiny map.
Mission 2 is where the real meat of the campaign lies. I'm not joking when I say that I only even *found* the room the main objective takes place in *an hour and thirty five minutes in*, there's *that* much additional content. Here, in order to try and become financially independent, Conall embarks on a foolhardy tomb-raiding mission to uncover an ancient religious relic.
By rights this should be a bad mission. It's pagan-focused, with a lot of non-Thiefy content, and at least three completely new added threats that can silently kill you without you understanding what's happening (the wings of moths, floating lanterns and some swimming snakes I came to describe as "angry jpegs" because of their flat texture bodies.) Despite all this, however, I really enjoyed this mission. There's as much stealth content as non-stealth content, and what content it is! I ended up clocking in on over four hours playtime, and there's so much to talk about.
1. Right off the bat, you are given an infinite handheld lightsource in the form of a lantern, which is an absolute godsend in a map this dark and really adds a new dynamic of play where you have to decide when to have it turned on.
2. Multiple interesting and exciting environments are scattered throughout the map, the main bulk of which is a dark, murky swamp filled with bugs and burricks.
3. There is a slew of weird and wonderful sidequests, many of them available from a rich and adorable little pagan village that you must earn the trust of, that will take you all over the map and back again.
4. The reward from the main quest is actually useful in combat, so you won't feel deflated by doing it first before circling back to finish the sidequests.
1. Random Taffer's recurring problem with maps makes another appearance in this mission in the form of an absolutely gorgeous, illustrative and diegetically justified handpainted pictoral map that is... utterly useless as a navigation aid, bearing almost no relation to the geography it describes, being updated in ways that are confusing at best and incomprehensible at worst, and not even having a notes section to take down the visual landmarks (which are, in fairness, quite good and well thought out- I particularly liked being able to remember my exits in the crystal caves via the colours of the crystals). This was irritating because of the number of times I found what were obviously sidequest materials before being given the quest in question, and knowing I would only be able to remember the location of one at most.
2. Some of the geometry is a little obstructively placed, which can be an irritant when you get snagged trying to flee a charging tree beast or evade an eye plant.
3. Dialogues in this mission are *very long*. There are a number of occasions where Conall must stand talking to an NPC for several minutes, which began to drag a little after the third time or so. One of these dialogues is performed in an environment with a one-hit-kill enemy that can only be disabled as part of the mission segment you are trying to reach through said dialogue in the room with you, which was incredibly irritating as I kept missing parts of the conversation running away from it.
Finally, we reach the third and final mission.
Mission. Three. Rules. And, in specific, the *start* of mission three is some of the most tense and nail-biting gameplay I've ever seen in a Thief level. You must ghost through a mansion to reach an item that has been hidden away. You have no items on you- no weapons, no potions, not even your compass, nothing, so while the mission won't fail you for being seen- you're toast if you're seen. Additionally, Conall has been poisoned- every thirty seconds or so your screen fades to black and you lose a big chunk of health, which is terrifying when you don't know if you made it to shadow in time now that you can't see the guard, and you don't know if you can locate enough food and health potions in bowls and drawers to keep you alive long enough to steal your goal. Ultimately, powerless as you are, this task requires discipline and patience, but of course when you're quickly dying those are the last things in your mind!
I'd probably have been happy enough just for the mission to be that experience, but once able to barter for the antidote to his poison, Conall is returned his gear and sets out into a great wide city quarter to exact revenge on his tormentors. The mission turns into Mission 1 writ large, with many buildings accessible only from upstairs windows, and some only from the ground. There's a chance for vengeance on those who wrecked your apartment in mission 1 as well as different thugs who've screwed with you more recently, a callback to a confusing portion of mission 2 that makes it make sense and comes in a wonderful classic horror scenario style secret, and a colossal and well designed landscape to explore that you will get lost in (though a very detailed map is available at the watch station).
A word of warning, however: do not rely on quicksave during this mission. One of the later objectives involves never being spotted by anybody from certain factions, much like in Framed, but for some reason neither AIs nor Conall himself announce your failure of this objective immediately, so it is very easy to quicksave yourself into a situation where you've actually already been spotted and will fail instantly upon loading. Stagger hard saves, and use quicksaving only for quickfiring attempts at tricky jumps.
Despite only taking half as long as Mission 2, I think I enjoyed this final mission the most. If I had to pick a lowlight I would say the weird mean-spirited joke, apparently directed at least partially at a minority I am a part of, which can be found in a letter in one of the upstairs apartments, but I found it more odd than anything and it's ambiguous enough I think players should judge for themselves. Besides, many probably won't even see that room since if you can make up the gold requirement elsewhere there's nothing there you need. There's loads to love in this mission that makes the City come alive as a perfect balance between an actual meaningful, believable *place* where people live, work, love, fight and make merry; and multi-levelled navigation space crawling with enemies. RT has really come up with something special here and I was happy to indulge his long, cinematic credits sequence because of it. 10s all round.
star 10 / 10