REVIEW / Grid Force – Mask of the Goddess (PC)

Anyone who has played any of the games belonging to the Mega Man Battle Network series will be familiar with the gameplay of Grid Force – Mask of the Goddess. It is all about bullet hell inside a grid mixed in with a little bit of RPG. The battle system also features real-time combat instead of the turn-based stuff we’ve come to expect from this style of play.

Featuring an all-female cast, the story of Grid Force – Mask of the Goddess centers around Donna. She wakes up in an unfamiliar land, where she remembers nothing about her past. After being rescued by a group of ladies claiming to be part of her team, she is told that she is a failed champion in a war between machines and goddesses. She is then tasked to fulfill that role with her team while trying to remember what happened to cause her demise during her previous attempt.

Grid Force – Mask of the Goddess plays like a shmup, but you’re restricted spatially to your side of the grid. The same of course goes for the enemies that you’ll be facing. That spatial restriction causes chaos because you’re not only concerned about aiming your attacks at the enemies but also avoiding their attacks in the process.

The RPG element of Grid Force – Mask of the Goddess appears in the form of the game’s leveling system and character roster. There are around 15 or so female champions to unlock as you progress through the game. An important note here is that certain actions and choices taken by the player during the story will unlock, (or lock,) characters. The fighters in your team all feature different attacks and they are also aligned with a certain element. As in a regular RPG, each element is strong and weak to another, so it helps to have a healthy roster of characters to take advantage of enemies’ vulnerabilities. This makes your choices during the game all the more important.

The leveling system is where I’ve found my issues. Characters level up by using collectible elemental shards. Each elemental shard strengthens a certain statistic. The problem is that these shards are collected either by defeated enemies dropping them or after clearing a level. Clearing the level is guaranteed to drop a lot of these shards compared to those gleaned from defeating enemies, but you have to collect them. Not only are these drops time-sensitive, but if you decide to move to the upgrade screen right after clearing the level, you will lose out on those precious resources.

This would be fine if the game was forgiving, right? Well, the other problem is that the difficulty of battles spike so randomly that even regular fodder enemies can annihilate your team in just seconds. Plus, the first big boss of the game has so many tricks up its sleeve that it’s almost unbeatable. The ability to drop mines and perform seeking attacks is nasty enough on its own without adding a mind-controlling attack that makes your team members switch sides.

If you think, you can just keep replaying older levels to get those upgrade shards, think again. The game doesn’t save progress within statistics if you replay previous levels. What it does is revert back to whatever stats you had when you started the level. This being said, farming until you get sufficiently strong enough to progress won’t be an option. With this in mind, I really think Grid Force – Mask of the Goddess needs a gameplay update. This comes down to personal skill and I’ll freely admit that I’m not a great shmup player, but I am great at grinding. If I can’t even get past the first boss on the easier of the two difficulties, then there is a problem, because I cannot enjoy the great story of Donna the Champion.

Grid Force - Mask of the Goddess

Lead the Champion in Her Fight Against the Machines

+Shmup in grids with RPG elements

-Leveling system needs rework
-Battles can be unforgiving