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Video Game / Gods Will Be Watching

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Gods Will be Watching is a point-and-click game made by Deconstructeam and published by Devolver Digital, released on July 24th 2014. It was originally a Ludum Dare 26 game where you controlled Sergeant Burden and his crew: a soldier, a psychiatrist, a doctor, an engineer, a robot and a dog. The goal was to survive for 40 days and to repair a broken radio, while at the same time making sure that the crew had enough food, medicine, warmth, ammunition and sanity. The game was later very popular and an expanded version was crowdfunded, until it was picked up and published by Devolver Digital.

In the expanded game, you follow the story of Sergeant Burden and the aforementioned crew through six chapters, ranging from hostage situations to torture scenarios to just wilderness survival, on an alien planet filled with dangerous wildlife of course. The backdrop is one of struggle between Xenolifer, an anti-slavery terrorist organization, and the authoritarian Constellar Federation. There is no karma meter, and whether you value the lives of your crew over long-term consequences is entirely up to you.

The game is mainly characterised by stressful situations, hard decisions, being very difficult and requiring a good amount of trial and error to succeed. Contrary to other modern point-and-click games, Gods Will Be Watching is not about about combining items or bringing them to the right places, but rather is about resource management and hard choices. Every choice you make will mean another aspect of your survival is neglected. Choosing to calm down the hostage who's about to snap and run will cause the SWAT team just outside to inch closer, while taking a harder stance might end up with all of them dead and the SWAT having no problem with just charging in.

Gods Will Be Watching contains examples of:

Please do not add any character tropes to this page. The Characters page for the game can be found here.

  • Actual Pacifist: Zigzagged with the op'maun according to some DLC dialogue: they put almost no resistance to being exterminated by humanity, and this is partially because they were pacifists... but mostly because, being a species capable of traveling through time and observing alternate universes, they simply didn't ''care'' much about being exterminated. As far as they were concerned they were just fine in an infinite number of other worlds.
  • Alien Sky: Sineicos has two moons that are visible at all times.
  • Anachronic Order: Pieced together, it seems that the actual order of events is: Epilogue, Chapter 5, Prelude to Chapter 2, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 6, Chapter 7. This is further complicated by the fact that the entire thing is a "Groundhog Day" Loop and Burden only achieves a different end result when he defeats Liam in Chapter 7. There's also some unexplained things, for example the fact that Burden seems to have been a Sergeant in the Everdusk Company before he joined up with the Constellar Federation on Legin, and there's a possibility that is simply parts of the loop carrying over.
  • An Arm and a Leg:
    • Jack can lose his arm in Chapter 2 unless you lie and confess your way through the entire day.
    • Sergeant Abraham loses his leg some time before the events of Chapter 5, which slows the entire group down. He begs you to leave him behind so the group has a better chance at surviving. If you don't, he is Driven to Suicide the second time you sleep.
  • Boldly Coming: Discussed during the climb in the DLC chapter. Turns out there is only one alien race in the known universe capable of interbreeding with humans, though females resulting from such unions become interfertile with any other humanoid race.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Surviving this is the objective of Chapter 2.
  • Cutting Off the Branches: Killing the main characters that Burden is tied with, (Making Jack to be killed in half, will result in his robotic appearition leaning against the wall, and later on becoming a robot, or if just sacrificing his arm, will be given a robotic one instead.) or killing everyone in chapter 3 or 4 will result in them appearing in the next chapter as holograms, where Burden will slightly lampshade this. And killing Jack early in chapter 5 goes against canon of him surviving and helping Burden in previous chapters, and also killing Shaman in the 6th chapter, where in the DLC is showing him not only being the one alive, but every major character that Burden were working with is also alive.
  • Death World:
    • The extreme heat of Legin makes it this. Notably, sleeping outside is considered suicide there.
    • Sineicos isn't much better. The nights are fatally cold, while the period of daylight is so short that it's nearly impossible for your group to gather the necessities of survival in the time allotted. And, of course, the entire world is infected with a virus that causes your body to seize up and die...and being infected actually helps a group member survive in a lot of cases, since they don't eat and their morale doesn't decay.
  • Disaster Dominoes: In any situation where you have to manage morale (Chapters 1 and 4), one guy dying will lead to others' morale tanking, which can also lead to their deaths.
  • Downer Ending: It's revealed at the end of the game that Burden has been reliving a time loop over and over again (possibly millions of times)...and only starts to remember this when fighting Liam, when it's too late to save anything. When he finally wins, he chooses to drift off into space...only to get sucked into a nebula and begin the whole damn thing all over again.
    • The Epilogue isn't any better. Liam finally finds Burden again after 20 years...but only to berate him and ask to go back again, this time giving the cure to Xenolifer. Burden, convinced by Liam, allows himself to be shot in the head, going back in time and picking Xenolifer. It changes nothing.
  • Driven to Suicide: Possible in several scenarios.
    • Burden shoots himself if he "fails his men" in Chapter 4. He also tries doing this to escape at the end of the game his fate. It doesn't work.
    • Burden's therapist, Amber, kills herself in her room sometime before Chapter 1 after realizing that Burden can remember future events.
    • In Chapter 5, Sgt. Abraham eventually does this if you don't kill him yourself early on.
  • Earth That Was: The events of the game are so far removed from the present day that Irving doesn't even know what the "Russian" in "Russian roulette" means.
  • The Extremist Was Right: In The Last Chapter DLC, it's revealed that the choice to prevent Xenolifer's False Flag Attack on Gactus VII was a bad idea, since once the Constellar Federation puts the organization down they go on to become The Empire, enslaving and exterminating countless alien species, eventually turning this brutality against human "undesirables" as well. Of course, the alternative turns out to be little better, as once Liam convinces Burden to let Xenolifer win on the next loop, it simply results in a timeline where they're locked in a bloody Forever War with the Federation.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Burden can only remember that he's going through a time loop in the final chapter against Liam.
  • Fantastic Racism: Aliens are enslaved by humans. In fact, the segregation is so complete that no aliens are even seen in the game.
  • Fridge Brilliance: During the chapters your Comrads may (and will) die on-screen or off-screen, however comes next chapter everyone is still there (especially notable between chapters 2,3,4 and the beginning cutscene of 5 where dead people sometimes glitch out). They are still alive - in a "Groundhog Day" Loop Iteration where he managed to save everyone
  • Future Imperfect: at one point in Chapter 2, Irving the interrogator pulls out a revolver and contemplates playing "Russian Roulette", by then an ancient game from far away Earth. He admits that he has no idea what "Russian" means, before erroneously concluding that it's probably the name of the game's inventor.
  • Gilligan Cut: At the start of Chapter 2.
    Burden: Don't worry, I have it under control.
    [Smash Cut to Burden and Jack tied up in a torture room]
  • Gods Are Evil: Burden theorizes that the loop he's stuck in is the gods' idea of a joke.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: The entire premise of the game is just another loop for the main character. Every loop starts with Sergeant Burden waking up in the Legin desert and ends with him dying at Liam's hand aboard the matriarch. The time between that? 7 years. The final level of the game has you learning Liam's patterns, every death essentially means Burden spends another 7 years of torture and hardships. When you finally defeat him, Sergeant Burden commits suicide by jumping out into space, although even this does not seem to have stopped the loop.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Over half the cast can potentially invoke one for the sake of Burden's mission, but only two characters opt into this outside of the player's actions. Burden volunteers for a suicide mission to prevent the spread of the Medusa virus, and BR4ND-ON is dismantled to assist him. Sergeant Abraham may also be Driven to Suicide in chapter 5, provided the player didn't shoot him earlier.
  • Hostage Situation: The first scenario. You're the one holding the hostages and trying to keep the situation under control and the cops from breaching.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: In every scenario, there are always hard decisions that could be made to help ensure your victory, but go too far and you might just find you made too many pragmatic decisions.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall
    • In chapter 2, Liam comments that Irving seems to have some kind of set pattern to his interrogations, and Jack mentions that it'd be nice to have several lives so that he could learn the pattern. Turns out, this is also a major spot of Foreshadowing. Burden is actually in a "Groundhog Day" Loop, though he's not aware of it at this point.
    • Irving's dream - see Whole-Plot Reference below.
    • In the DLC chapter, as Liam approaches the top of the mountain, he rambles in oxygen-deprived delirium about the different Achievements as something Gods made them do for no discernible reason. He breaks the Fourth Wall immediately after.
  • The Load: In survival situations, anyone can be this, depending on your strategy. However, Sergeant Abraham is unambiguously this in Chapter 5, being too injured to fight and slowing everyone down with his peg leg. If you don't get rid of him, which is a bad idea because his men will rebel, he offs himself after two sleep cycles.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Every chapter except 6 and 7 heavily involve chance (and even those two can have some). In fact, taking time to minimize risks is a major game mechanic, but it's impossible to eliminate them and still have time to complete the mission. More specifically, the Russian roulette section of chapter 2 is entirely luck-based, unless you're willing/able to confess/lie multiple times in a row. There is a mode that removes all chance, but Trial-and-Error Gameplay is the intended design, and is justified (see below).
  • Meaningful Name: Burden is a pretty apt name, considering what the guy goes through.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: Any time a character whose fate depended on the player dies, it's pretty gut-wrenching, but in chapter 6, when the population of Gactus VII starts dropping by the millions, it's practically a background event. The trope is also referenced in-game: the achievement for preventing more than 10 million casualties is called "Statistics".
  • Morton's Fork: Both of the possible outcomes of chapter 7, as pictured by the DLC. If Burden refuses to work with Liam, the Constellar Federation turns into a full-blown tyrannical empire which enslaves every sentient race in the known universe, including humans. If he lets Liam win, the Xenolifers turn into La R√©sistance and keep fighting for liberation of enslaved species... but their struggle rapidly descends into a bloody Forever War with both sides regularly committing atrocities in the name of victory. Either way Liam repeats the cycle of searching for Burden to convince him to pick the other option in the following loop.
  • Nintendo Hard: The reliance on chance makes it this, although it's pretty hard anyway. Recent updates have added easier modes.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: In Chapter 4, you can turn crew members from consumers of food to a source of food.
  • Oh, My Gods!: As the title implies, the culture of the future appears to be polytheistic.
  • Past-Life Memories: Burden is trapped in a seven-year long "Groundhog Day" Loop, but only fully regains his memories during Chapter 5. By that point, it's too late to change anything.
  • People's Republic of Tyranny: Despite their name, the Constellar Federation is far from the good guys. They practice enslave any alien races they encounter, and in the bonus chapter wind up committing mass genocide against them while enslaving billions of human citizens to make up for the lost workforce.
  • The Plague: Much of the game's plot revolves around the Medusea Virus and its possible weaponisation. It attacks both the brain and the rest of the body with a parasitic net that eventually causes paralysis in the victim and subsequently creating perfect conditions for the spores of the virus to begin growing on it. It's mentioned that the bodies have to be burned to stop the spread of infection, and extended exposure to the virus will render it incurable even with modern antidotes. Basically, it's not pleasant.
  • Precision F-Strike: During the fairly eloquent intro discussion of whether the Xenolifers are justified, the Engineer drops one:
    "Yea, how noble… I don't give a fuck."
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Burden after chapter 7.
  • Russian Roulette: One of Irving's torture techniques in chapter 2 involves forcing Burden to play this with a seven-chambered revolver. Not that Irving knows what the "Russian" in the name means, though.
  • Sanity Meter: In the original prototype, each of Burden's crewmembers have a sanity value. If it drops below zero, the crewmember flees the campsite and presumably dies.
  • Shades of Conflict:
  • Shout-Out
  • Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil: Liam believes so, enough that he's willing to sacrifice 4 billion people in an attempt to abolish it.
  • The Stinger: At the end of the credits, Sergeant Burden is finally devoured by what looks like some kind of black hole. After that, we skip to the epilogue "Broken Hourglass" where we find Sergeant Burden waking up in the middle of the Legin desert, at which point he picks up a scarf and a rifle and begins walking to the east, and then we're promptly treated to a flash through of all the games chapters again in the space of half a second. By the looks of it, Burden wasn't actually able to escape his "curse".
  • Taking You with Me: The bonus chapter reveals that after the Constellar Federation began their conquest of the Hollistic Empire, the Empire utterly refused to surrender, to the point of blowing up their own worlds rather than letting them fall to the Federation's tyranny.
  • Tap on the Head: Used to knock out Burden at the end of chapter 1.
  • Suicide Mission: What many of the characters consider Burden's mission in Chapter 6 and Chapter 7 to be. Chapter 6 is even called Suicide Mission to Save the World.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted. Sarah can perform "group therapy" sessions on Burden's crew to increase morale, and Burden himself can act as one by talking to the crew about their troubles. Burden also goes to see a therapist named Amber about his lost memories.
  • Title Drop: The 4th chapter is entitled Gods Will be Watching.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: The most common complaint about the game. Interestingly, it's actually justified by the plot, as each time the player retries is intended to be a new iteration of Burden's "Groundhog Day" Loop.
  • The Unreveal: What exactly Burden is, and why he's stuck in the "Groundhog Day" Loop are never explained.
  • Vestigial Empire: The Hollistic Empire, once a major force in galactic politics, has been reduced to a miserable and militaristic Space-Ruritania. After the Time Skip in the bonus chapter, they've been completely wiped out by the warmongering Federation. The crew at one point debates how much worse they were than the Federation, pointing out that they at least weren't outright genocidal.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: There's no Karma Meter. However, nothing's stopping the player from taking care of hostages better, or ensuring that the party survives certain death situations.
    • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Of course, your generosity might get you in a tight spot. Hostages might become bolder since you're kinder and take advantage of the situation by running away, or even attacking you outright.
    • During one chapter, you have a child that you can threaten or execute to convince his parents to aid you. As of the time of this writing, he is not only the hostage most players chose to free but also the hostage the least amount of players executed, despite his great use as a bargaining chip.
      • Mostly subverted though: if you actually shoot the kid, you lose your bargaining chip, hence why most people don't do it. Furthermore, the kid isn't a rebellious threat like Shaman or Frank, shooting him usually leads to a big surge in Rebellion and doing so also makes Claire catatonic. The only reason to do it is if you're desperate for oxygen or if you really need to crush group morale ASAP.
      • For a better comparison, you need only look at the Steam achievement about not using the kid at all in your threats and negotations: less than 1% of the playerbase has it, although this is at least partially due to many players not getting that far.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: You can, among other things, shoot your own hostages, allow your buddy to take the brunt of a torture session so you may survive more easily, inject less useful members of your squad with entirely lethal antidotes to further your research, systematically deny teammates food so you may have more to spare and threaten a child. In fact, this is often useful or outright necessary. Why have your teammate run away when you can just kill and eat them instead?
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Of course, there is always the flip side. Killing a hostage reduces your negotiating power, if your buddy dies suddenly the torturers are on you, a teammate dying to insanity, starvation of plague limits your options and further decreases the morale. Often the better road is one of Pragmatic Villainy. Shooting a hostage in the leg instead of the face means they can't run away and you can still at a later date heal the hostage in question. Leaving your options open is often the means to success.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Irving's dream speech is a direct reference to Ages of Irving, his original game.
  • You Bastard!: while the main storyline has shades of this throughout its later chapters, the DLC throws all subtlety out the window and goes on to draw extremely obvious parallels between the players playing the game and the titular "Gods", watching the main characters suffering terribly for their own, fleeting amusement, paying them no more thought than to figures in a video game, subjecting them to even worse misery as a pointless personal challenge, and doing so innumerable times across countless timelines to view the exact result they wish with complete disregard for those they abandon.
  • You Lose at Zero Trust: Keeping people calm and under control is a big part of the game.
    • If a hostage panics in Chapter 1, they'll attack Burden and Jack will be forced to shoot them. If you run out of hostages, it's game over.
    • Any member of Burden's crew can flee the campsite in Chapter 4 (or the prototype) if their Sanity Meter hits zero. Again, it's game over if you lose all human members.
    • Zig-Zagged in Chapter 6. To get a passcode off a scientist Burden must reduce their willpower to zero, but if he presses them too hard the entire crew may rebel.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Xenolifer is willing to do some pretty atrocious things to end alien slavery.

Gods Have Been Watching.