God Hand Dodging

What do you think of God Hand’s approach to dodging?

It’s a unique approach to a common mechanic. Instead of just giving you a dodge that can go any direction, you’re given 3 dodges that all have different attributes, different advantages and drawbacks. The back flip is clearly the most invincible, but also the slowest. It de-escalates encounters, but it can’t get you through sustained attacks or ones that rush at you, like self projectile enemies. It’s the crutch for beginners to lean on, but almost never the truly correct option for a scenario. The side step is really fast in comparison to the back flip, but it’s not very invincible. It’s good versus moves that go straight from enemies, and don’t sweep across, like overhead chops. The key is getting out of the way of the attack. It can also help you get at enemy’s sides or backs more easily, and move away from getting flanked. The up dodge, or weave dodge, is the fastest dodge, and lets you gain sustained upper body invincibility if you mash it (canceling/buffering into itself). It has no lower body invincibility, so low or fullbody hits can still strike you, but most close quarters attacks are high.

Instead of giving you a single move that solves everything if timed properly, you have 3 moves that vary in usefulness based on the situation. The backflip works in most scenarios, but at the cost of offensive momentum and chances to punish enemies, and you will occasionally run into attacks it can’t get you out of, so you get steadily pushed to master the other dodges.

Plus of course these are augmented by the way dodges can cancel any grounded attack. The backflip is almost completely useless for this purpose, but the sidestep and weave are both extremely effective, especially the weave since it has such a short animation. This can steadily push players towards mastering weave dodges, which are initially intimidating because they aren’t fully invincible and have a short invincibility period. That and the bonus to your level when you up dodge a lot is incentivizing.

what even is dodge cancelling in god hand and why is it the reason i see it brought up most often

Basically, every move in God Hand that has Gene’s feet on the ground can be canceled with any of the dodges. This is actually pretty common in action games, particularly cheaper action games that don’t really care as much about things like commitment to attacks. Bayonetta lets you do this with a ton of moves except the higher damage higher commit ones, just so you can combo enemies and dodge whenever you see an attack incoming. However God Hand is special because it has the weave dodge. The weave dodge (and sidestep really) has a really short animation. This means you can dodge cancel and still have hitstun lingering from whatever move you just hit the enemy with. Have a move with a fast startup and long recovery? Dodge cancel it.

A lot of games have this type of thing, especially fighting games, and I usually like to call it an empty cancel, for canceling you into a super short animation, or into an animation that can itself be canceled into an idle state. DMC has the same thing with royal guard cancel for example. Makoto can do it with her hayate charge. Lucario can do it in Project M with aura sphere canceling. Kevin can do it in Garou and it’s called Kevin Canceling there, and is the entire reason he’s crazy broken. Roman Canceling is basically this, as is FADC, and VT cancel in SFV. Upcoming game Aztez has this as well with blocking. God of War lets you do it with blocking. BM cancel in MGR is this. Flux in Nioh is an extremely limited form of this, given it only works during the late recovery of an attack.

Dodge canceling is brought up often for God Hand, because it’s the basis of advanced play. It’s kind of the fundamental technique of that game, like Jump Cancel is for DMC, Wavedash/L Cancel for Melee, Dodge Offset for Bayonetta. It’s the advanced technique people focus on most, even though other ones do exist.

6 thoughts on “God Hand Dodging

  1. TigerSteve November 6, 2016 / 3:29 am

    As an avid God Hand player and reader of this blog, I feel compelled to comment:

    The backflip is indeed usually a crutch for newbies, one good look at many of the god hand playthroughs currently on youtube is sure evidence of that. Although from experience the backflip is not wholly defensive. Often certain enemies in the game like to approach the player with rapid jab combos (eg, the first elite enemy type), a well timed backflip in this instance will put enough distance from the enemy to avoid damage, while also being in range so that a quick counter-hit move like charged punch/HSK/etc can be used for damage and CC. What I like to do is bait out these combo moves with a guard break and then backflip since most enemies will duck and follow up with one of those combos. The weakness of backflipping is as you said, it’s a poor choice against certain moves. It’s also quite bad when backflipping towards an enemy off-screen, or backflipping into a tree or object though this is usually the fault of the player.

    For side-stepping, I can say with some confidence that there is some invincibility during the first few frames since you’re able to dodge Azel’s head slicer with it. For me side-stepping is the hardest dodge to implement well when fighting multiple enemies, since it’s possible to get hit during the end lag of the animation before you can cancel it. Other than that I think the startup is fantastic and it’s essential for positioning. IMO if the end-lag was a tad bit shorter the move would be near perfect for air comboing and CC.

    And then there’s the step-back kick which is one of the most entertaining movement attacks in the game. When used correctly it can make fights look incredibly stylish and it’s something that I’d like to master. To this day I think Mike’s Three evil stooges KMS fight (stage 4) is its best application.

    Something interesting about dodge canceling, I don’t think the game would work at all without it. I mean when you duck and weave several times in succession you’re essentially dodge canceling a previous dodge. Plus due to the game’s fast paced nature–with so many moves being thrown out by you and the enemy–it makes sense that a player might make an attack that is done at a wrong time. Allowing the player to correct this mistake with the right dodge if they’re fast enough means that players aren’t going to feel trapped into not making a move for fear of getting hit in end-lag. Without dodge canceling the game would invariably be a lot slower; maybe something akin to Souls? From the sounds of that it would make a very poor hand-to-hand action game. However my assessment may be incorrect, please correct me if you think differently.

    Just wanted to get my thoughts out. Altogether a great post as always, Chris.

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  2. Gilgamesh310 November 18, 2016 / 7:37 pm

    Who’s Makoto?

    This is a very good article anyway, and even though I found the dodging annoying at first, I grew to appreciate it a lot over time. It actually makes me wonder if Bloodborne should have given you less invincibility frames, with its dodge, as you can do a bit of cheering with it. But I have to say, the over the shoulder camera does tend to bother me at times. You can’t see a lot of what goes on around you. So far, it bothered me most in that midget power rangers battle. There was a lot of them, that attacked in all directions that I couldn’t see coming. Did you not take any issue with camera?

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    • Chris Wagar November 18, 2016 / 11:09 pm

      ^ Makoto.

      The camera is tricky to deal with, but I am fine with it, just because it is consistent.

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  3. Augus SA (@Augus_SA) April 27, 2017 / 5:14 pm

    I’m pretty sure the sidestep has at least some invincibility frames. Either that, or they specifically programmed vertical attacks to give you some extra leeway as long as you sidestepped like you were supposed to. I’ve definitely successfully dodged moves that appeared to come into contact with Gene during the side-step animation.

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