Games that appear like they’re one thing, but they’re actually another walk a fine line between being surprisingly refreshing and awfully misleading. GoD Factory: Wingmen is one of those games. It’s that one arena game that keeps saying it’s the arena game for people who don’t like arena games, because it doesn’t play like arena games, but it employs all the traits of an arena game. Does that make sense? Ok, good; then the space shooter arena hybrid also handling itself beautifully with a low learning curve might make its gradual content even better.
Sharp in detail, space battles come with finely textured ships molded in slight anthropomorphic and bestial traits. Giant birds and devils accompany regular fighter shuttles, depending on what class they represent. Customization also allows these to shine with many different palettes and once the swirls of exhausts and huge explosions come into play, the dullness of space is changed for a cosmic ballet.
While pretty backdrops help set the mood for galactic conflict, the shooting, sliding, dodging part needs to be up to snuff as well. For that, GoD Factory: Wingmen shapes up like the normal class-based shooters. Each vehicle is good at a specific thing and can be further outfitted with parts that unlock as matches are played for experience. On top of that, parts further progress in levels individually, which increases their statistics, but also their output. It can get quite finicky to try to mix and match parts in the end game, but at least there’s room for versatility.
In fact, by adding in different weapon types, auxiliary effects and alternate builds, playing the shooter with just one class can already be quite unique. Some guns focus on multiple threats, others are specific to take down structures, while some even feel more like melee weapons. Additionally, classes complement each other to trigger combos, based on certain attack types. These have their specific effects as well and can seriously cripple an opponent if timed just right. Getting caught in crossfire can mean an extremely swift death.
Skill will be necessary in crafting a good build, but also in maneuvers themselves. To increase the mobility, it’s possible to perform drifts in four directions, in an effort to fake out opponents. Given some vehicles can also mount multiple weapons at once, there can be a ton of inputs to manage at once. Luckily, this is GoD Factory: Wingmen’s claim to fame. While the PC title is functional on keyboard and mouse, the easiest setup can be wrapped around a controller to great effect. Having a controller in hand makes it much more facilitating to smoothly steer and shoot at the same time. With as many as seven prompts being fully used at a time, it’d be nearly impossible to do this on a keyboard, just from a physical standpoint alone.
Moreover, builds don’t react to the mouse speeds for turns, but rather they use their own handling system. So, while it’d be possible to quickly veer to a side, the ship’s actual velocity will be determined by its stats. It’s completely unconventional on a mouse and keyboard configuration, but through the controller, it’s just one more button and it works like a charm. It’s definitely a risk that the game is taking in alienating purists, but it pays off in such uniquely creative controls that make fights so much more interesting. The heightened freedom in the controller commands can make dogfights look truly spectacular, spinning and turning in the shiny carnival of space combat.
While there’s only one map in the game, with identical carriers at opposite sides, there is some space clutter that varies for each match. More importantly, sporadic inside locations drastically alter the play style. Mobility is severely hampered in tight corners and bumping against terrains takes away chunks of health, which can be dangerous. It’s even more satisfying to out-fly someone in these quarters, certainly if they go up in flames against a wall.
Still, as fluid and marvelous GoD Factory: Wingmen is, it does have trappings of arena games in its design. One annoyance is its lobby system, which can take forever to fill up and has no balancing aspects. It’s up to the kindness of the community to come through in that regards. Worse yet, in the case of one team knowing each other, the other random selection is destined to lose, because teamwork is ridiculously effective, far greater than in other team-based titles. The goal is to take down as many carrier parts as needed to crush the integrity of the ship. A coordinated team can both get to objectives faster by ganging up and react to other factors on the fly. Destroyed parts are permanent advantages, so climbing back from that is always an uphill battle. There is a prompt system to address events, but it will never outweigh someone just chatting online.
Another irking element in GoD Factory: Wingmen is its progression system. While it does have some great content to offer with incredible versatility, being able to get to the right combination of parts can require a huge amount of grinding. It doesn’t make sense to have such tediously slow progression in a game without in-game transactions. Luckily, low-tier equipment can be just as fulfilling due to its singular leveling design. That only softens the grind though; it doesn’t excuse it. Opting for quality over quantity works, but the slow crawl does make it seem like content is being stretched for all its worth.
There is an odd silver lining to being stuck on some builds though and that’s both being certain on how to work a rig and knowing that opponents face the same dilemma. The playing field is leveled one way or the other. On top of that, it makes the game easier to understand than most, since the slight repetition and smooth controls can easily increase skills. It might look intimidating at face value, but it’s only a shoddy first impression. Once in the thick of the shooter mechanisms, each match will come with a sense of escapism that draws fighters back for just one more round and then one more round after that. There’s no dreary lexicon to study, just a few stats to understand and that’s it; have fun blasting!
Besides some foibles and a menacing look, GoD Factory: Wingmen is an absolute pleasure of a space shooter, in the shell of an arena game. Its easy to master controls and understandable customization designs are as complex as they are simple, all at once. It’s rare for a game to pull that double-sided edge off and have such a shiny display in the process of it as well. Now, if it loosens the slight grind in favor of more content somewhere along the road; that’d be perfect.