In dangerous seas where the waves batter and bruise a ship, there remains only one logical decision, abandon ship. What metaphorical ship am I talking about? The VITA. Whilst still enjoying an admirable amount of success in Japan, it seems like many devs see the natural route to take from the VITA leads to the Nintendo Switch. Thus leading us to God Wars: The Complete Legend being released for Switch soon.
God Wars was first released on the withering VITA and prosperous PS4 on June 2017. It was met with mixed reviews, but finally settled on a decent 74 Metacritic score. It’s a TRPG with a job system similar to that of the much beloved Final Fantasy Tactics and features a story based around Japanese mythology, but with the legend now being complete, does God Wars rise higher or sink lower than its previous iteration?
God Wars begins with the ruler of Fuji, Tsukiyomi having to make a difficult decision. The myriad gods aren’t pleased with what the people of the world have been doing to the planet. From the eminent war the three nations face, to the treatment of the planet. With only one way to stop impending doom, Tsukiyomi does what she must to secure the peace of the land, the screen goes black, we skip forward 13 years and are introduced to Kaguya, Tsukiyomi’s daughter. She has been placed under house arrest and is soon saved by Kintaro. With her mother having vanished Kaguya and Kintaro set off on a quest to find her mother and get answers, whilst also trying to appease the chaos around them.
I will begin by taking a look at the story after my summary of the beginning. God Wars setting is an interesting one. The premise of the title is interesting and even has a somewhat relevant message in regards to some themes brought up, like the treatment of the planet, but thankfully avoids being preachy. With this being said I did find the story to be bland. There’s a sizeable cast of characters here and each one lacks any significant alone time to grow as a character and for the player to grow attached. For example about half way into God Wars Kintaro and Kaguya seem to have developed a bond that leans more to being romantic, but from the lack of focus on the two it seemed forced. The title could really do with a system like Fire Emblem‘s support conversations to flesh out its cast. On top of that some of the twists seem so obvious it would be impressive to not see them coming. However, I must admit there was one that took me by surprise.
God Wars really shines when it comes to its gameplay. Being a Tactical Role Playing Game, each level takes place on a grid map where you navigate your units across these squares. Just like Final Fantasy Tactics the position of your unit, the direction they face, their height on the battlefield all come in to play. Bow fire is more accurate and powerful from the high ground and attacking an enemy from behind will give a better chance of hitting. Of course it is up to you take advantage of these bonuses and make sure your enemy doesn’t get the better of you as well.
More than a Job
Next up is the robust job system that God Wars has to offer. Each unit has a main, sub and unique job. Depending on which job you have equipped will affect their stats and dictate which skills they have on offer. Being able to mix and match between two jobs means there are a lot of combinations to take advantage of. Physical attacks, healers, magic attacks and more are what you will see on offer. Whilst I found the universal jobs to all be great, I did find issue with the unique ones. With the unique jobs being the only thing separating each character, I did find it annoying that some were flat out better than others. Picking a team was far less about tactical choice for that mission, but more natural selection as others were clearly weaker.
The Main Adventure
Of course none of these features would add up to a hill of beans if God Wars didn’t offer a promising adventure and whilst the narrative is lacking, the length and challenge of the main game certainly is not. Comprised of 4 chapters with roughly 12 missions the main game can take you roughly 30 hours, but wait! The DLC that comes packaged with the the game is roughly the same length as the main game. Offering players a substantial amount of TRPG action to sink their teeth into. From their the difficult seems perfect. I played through on normal and am a big fan of the genre, but even I found myself struggling on a few levels. On top of that units that specialised in barriers, buffs and debuffs where incredibly useful on a normal playthrough whereas in other titles these units tend to be forgotten.
From beginning to end I found the challenge in God Wars to be fair and rewarding when I cleared a mission, the constant acquisition of Job Points means you’ll constantly be upgrading skills and trying new jobs which keeps things fresh, but I did find that the system was more tailored to the main adventure and got a bit stale towards the latter half of the Labryinth of Yomi.
I’ve always been a fan of the Japanese mythology aeshetic, but sadly the actual technical craft on display here is lacking. Design wise things all work, but they fail to really capture the magic as even for a VITA title the graphics are a bit lacklustre. The compisitions do fit well with the theme of the game. I can’t say any stuck out for me, but were nice and easy to listen to in the background of a mission.
Whilst the main bulk of the game offers a satisfying amount of content, I did find God Wars to be lacking in content outside the main missions. There’s a shop, as expected. A shrine to offer money to get a boost the next mission and side quests. All these would be fine if the side quests weren’t so mediocre. The rewards don’t make them feel compelling enough to want to play and you typically have to clear three side quests to get to the mission with a half decent reward. The whole approach felt like an obligation and in comparison to something like Disgaea totally lacking.
Whilst doing some research on God Wars previous releases I did find that many people complained about the the game crashing regularly. I can say after sinking many hours into God Wars that this issue is not present in the Switch edition at all. I can also confirm that the game runs smoothly on TV or in handheld mode. I did encounter some slightly weird moments of lag on some maps, but these were few and far between and didn’t impact my enjoyment at all.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for God Wars: The Complete Legend was provided by NIS America.