It can be hard to care about anything in the depths of depression and anxiety, so when even eating goes by the wayside, fitting video games into the daily grind seems silly. That’s why, during a pretty rough last few weeks, I’ve been surprised to find myself constantly returning to Godzilla Battle Line, a gacha game with a 100% focus on player-versus-player matches.
The franchise, with its decades of history and dozens of monsters, is perfect for a mobile market that remains laser-focused on the gacha format, which combines all the random fun of blind box collectibles and card game booster packs but without benefits like physical connection or display potential. As such, most of the time I’ve spent with Godzilla Battle Line has been in pursuit of “expedition maps,” thematic loot boxes that provide random rewards based on dedicated pull rates, to pad out my team and upgrade the monsters I’ve already unlocked.
But when I’m not cursing my bad luck (still searching for those four-star Biollante pieces!), I’m competing against other players. Unlike other gacha games, Godzilla Battle Line is a strictly competitive affair, with no way to unlock content or rewards through solo play (at least right now). This has the potential to introduce a whole host of problems, but so far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with just how easy it’s been to find consistent, competent matches. I’ve even had the pleasure of causing more than a few opponents to rage quit, which feels just as good in this silly mobile game as it does in Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat.
Godzilla Battle Line matches are tests of endurance between two players fielding decks made up of a leader and several supporting pieces. The leaders stand sentry at opposite ends of a long board, whereas supporting pieces can be launched from a tiny grid around the leader to fight other pieces en route to the opposing leader. Each piece has its own energy requirement, depleting a metre that slowly fills as the battle goes on, and method of attack, with some moving and targeting specific types of enemies independently and others acting as direct attacks. Careful, strategic deployment is the name of the game.
Every leader can also be used as support with slightly weakened stats, and that’s where your first decision comes: Do you want a monster like Godzilla or Mothra acting, essentially, as your opponent’s final boss, or as a mobile striker on the battlefield? Complicating matters is the fact that every leader has its own unique special attack. Godzilla, for instance, has a wide, arcing laser beam that can deal with several threats in its attack radius, whereas Mothra provides a limited-time healing aura to your pieces. I’ve stuck with the basic Godzilla the game provides at the start as my leader, but after being wrecked by players using it as a support piece, I’m currently rethinking that tactic.
What makes Godzilla Battle Line fun for me, as a fan of the Godzilla franchise, is just how deep the developers went into the canon for inspiration. Sure, favourites like King Ghidorah, King Kong, and Gigan are here, but the game also makes room for characters like Godzilla’s adopted son Minilla and drill-nosed antagonist Moguera. I wouldn’t say any of the pieces are truly out-there in terms of obscurity, but when I realised I was blowing up enemy pieces with an unmanned train bomb à la 2016’s Shin Godzilla, I couldn’t help but smile.
A dozen hours in, Godzilla Battle Line is a surprisingly deep mobile game that isn’t diminished by its flirtation with the gacha genre. It’s been a constant companion as I’ve wrestled with insomnia and struggled to muster excitement for anything else, steadily providing me with small victories and goals to achieve, even if sometimes those goals are as simple as “watch a few ads for some in-game currency.” I don’t know just how long my fascination will last, but for now, I’m happy to have the distraction.