First up, thanks to Gravity Game Arise and Playtra for providing a free copy of this game to review. Grid Force: Mask of the Goddess is a tactical bullet hell RPG that centres around Donna, the newly reborn protagonist. Along with her friends, she must travel across the all-female cities of Gora to claim several masks representing the goddesses of their world.
Variety is the spice of life
Now as a straight white dude, I’m probably not the target audience for this game, BUT that’s fine. I can’t expect every game to be catered to me specifically, because that’s silly. Grid Force also has an LGBTQ+ slant to it, something I don’t directly connect with. However, I think it’s great to see more diversity in my games. I do feel slightly out of my depth talking about the subject though. So I’ll leave that discussion to more relevant and worthy reviewers. The story is totally optional so if you aren’t interested in it, then it can be skipped.
I can confidently say that there is also a focus on inclusivity. The first additional party member that the player meets is a Faun adjacent character in a hovering wheelchair named Pan. And rather than creating one-note caricatures, focusing on making something like this specific detail central to a character, each one is pretty fleshed out.
The action is fast, frenetic and pretty tough, just as one would expect from a bullet-hell shooter. Input is also responsive and fluid. Moving rapidly around the grid-based arenas is fun. Each character has a regular and more powerful charged attack to combat enemies. They also have a specific element attached to them, which follows a rock, paper, scissors type ruleset, although with slightly more elements. This means one ally may be stronger or weaker against a certain foe, and finding out each type of match-up goes a long way to achieving victory.
Confusingly, each element also represents a character attribute. For example, the Earth element is connected to the health attribute. Likewise, Fire is associated with a character’s Power stat. Fragments of these elements can be collected from fallen enemies to upgrade each stat, in a way to develop each member of the squad.
Only one character can be used at one time, and only a certain number of allies can be included in the squad at once. Those in use can be swapped around at any time during battle though.
Bringing it all together
I did feel like the gameplay was more geared towards using a controller over a keyboard, but that might just be due to my personal preference. I played most of it using the buttons on my Steam Deck with the gameplay you are seeing in this review recorded on my desktop. The keyboard button layout also meant it was fairly easy to play one-handed, which I thought was a nice touch. I did note that tutorial sections included controller button prompts even when not using one at the time.
Aesthetically, this game is very well realized. Bright neon colours influenced by 70’s posters create a stark art style. Distinctive and diverse character designs keep everyone visually interesting. There’s also some fantastic heavy and pulsating 90’s pop-heavy music to enjoy, experienced best with decent headphones.
Aside from extensive sections of text-heavy dialogue, certain story beats are also accompanied by expertly drawn comic book panels. These add a much-needed respite from many of the more wordy sections and help create a charming feel to the game. But again, the story is skippable. Not that I recommend doing that of course.
Highlights of the experience
Particular highlights for me included the achievement names and the logo design. Each name is taken from popular songs from the 90s which held a certain amount of nostalgia for me. I remember jamming along back in the day to such classics as Livin’ La Vida Loca, Wonderwall and MMMBop. Although I don’t really think many of them were related to the achievements in that many ways. Still a fun little detail.
I adore the logo for Grid Force: Mask of the Goddess though. It has a very strong sense of identity and is animated to a very satisfying degree. Looks great contrasting with a black background too.
Although it played perfectly fine on my Steam Deck, there were some issues regarding synching between the Deck and PC. As the game is currently rated “unknown” regarding Steam Deck compatibility, this isn’t really an issue for me. Hopefully, this will be amended in future though.
I don’t have many other complaints, aside from occasional difficulty spikes. Never a big fan of those. With several worlds on offer, there’s plenty of gameplay to be had, and the multiple endings on offer do support replayability.
Overall, Grid Force: Mask of the Goddess, much like its logo, has a very strong sense of identity. Visual flair, combined with characters and a story all of its own, this game is one I rather enjoyed. It’s something different to sink my teeth into and, like many indie games before it’s something fresh to be experienced.
Disclaimer: A code was provided for this game to aid in writing this review.