While Nintendo are often cited as the party game kings with the likes of series stalwarts Mario Party and Smash Bros and newer offerings like 1-2-Switch, the Xbox is no slouch in this area with highly enjoyable titles like the madcap Battleblock Theater and the more lexical Quarrel. There’s always room for a few more though, and Oh My Godheads is a fresh take on capture-the-flag that’s easy to pick up and sure to amuse.
The central gimmick here is that the objective to be seized, rather than a simple colourful pennant, is one of the decapitated godheads from the title. Not content to remain inert and impartial to proceedings, they continually trigger in-game effects which, if you remember your world theology from school, are related to their noted personalities and powers. For example head of the Greek pantheon Zeus charges and releases lightning, while the Egyptian cat goddess Bastet wrathfully reverses your controls and Earth deity Gaia is a large and unwieldy rolling ball. The godheads do not pick sides, and will strike out at whichever player dares to carry them, but carry them you must if you want to earn those sweet points and the win. The pace is fast and frantic, with kills dealt as quickly as one hit with a blade, or a well-aimed exploding pie in the face.
The main two modes are Capture The Head, where the exalted ones must be carried to your team’s torchlit pedestal, and King Of The Head, where you simply hold onto the head for as long as possible. Canny players will spot the patterns of when the godheads are going to let rip and will allow their opponents the honour of experiencing the effects at the last possible second. The arenas are themed after the home countries of the divinities in a pleasing chunky pastel way, with a good variation in size and layout available, although some are a tad barren and featureless in a way that somewhat restricts the gameplay. Other modes forgo the heads altogether in favour of straight-up deathmatches: Headhunters rewards the player with the most kills, whereas Last Man Standing grants victory to the, well, you can work it out. There’s also a handy tutorial mode for you to practice getting your chops in before taking on actual opponents. Medals can be won depending on how well you perform but once you’ve got the basic idea of the game, getting gold in training isn’t really a compelling reason to stick around.
The godheads being carted about are real deities from history, but there are a plethora of original wacky characters to play as, including a cowboy, a zombie, a skeleton, and a gentleman penguin with a monocle. They’re purely a cosmetic choice and don’t affect the gameplay, but it’s nice to be able to pick a favourite. The music is suitable quirky and dramatic, matching the style with each level, and you have to give them credit for making the introductory trailer a song which explains the rules.
One questionable choice, which the developers stand by, is for this to be a strictly local multiplayer-only affair; no online options are included. While the sentiment of fostering more authentic fun-times by getting friends together in person is one worth supporting, it doesn’t reflect how people play today, what with having those adult responsibility kind of things. If you don’t have the social cachet to draw a clutch of amigos to your house on a whim you can play with bots, but that’s clearly a poor substitution for real, fallible, mockable friends. Winning against an AI just isn’t as fun, especially the AIs in this game which sometimes make strange uninformed choices, attacking the player when the head is ripe for the taking.
Like most games of this ilk, the destiny of Oh My Godheads is to shine briefly but brightly like a supernova, at a time when your pals are around and the concept is still a novelty, but then fade quietly into the background of your collection once you’ve quickly unlocked all the maps and heads, and realised that party games have no real depth outside that setting. For a game with no real single-player content, the decision to not include an online mode equates to a very restrictive experience, which is clearly evident. What’s there is certainly charming and entertaining, but I hope that whatever developer Titutitech comes up with next will be a bit more substantial in content.