Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), PS Vita
Developer: Kadokawa Games
Publisher: NIS America
Release: 16th June 2017
Price: 49.99 (PS4) / 39.99 (PS Vita)
Honestly, I never was a big fan of SRPGs, except certain encounters with popular series including NIS America´s Disgaea as well. Mostly due to the lack of interesting ideas or time, I didn´t have much interest in this little genre. Yet, with the announcement of God Wars: Future Past, NIS America´s latest entry in their published SRPGs, its classic japanese setting, the focus on gods and all the story concepts got me hooked. So, I gave myself a push and it was definitely worth it.
As it name suggests, God Wars: Future Past completely focuses its story on the classic japanese gods. After Kaguya´s mother sacrificed her first daughter to the gods, now, 13 years after, it´s Kaguya´s turn to serve her country as a sacrifice. However, our princess has other plans in mind, desiring to travel through the world. Naturally, her childhood friend Kintaro, coincidentally controlled by us, has to save her, in order to fulfill the promise he made. Now, it’s up to us to both, face the rage of gods and surviving all by ourselves. The story is even based on a very old folklore, giving the whole plot a very traditional japanese touch.
Especially for fans of japanese mythology God Wars: Future Past will surely hold up to its claims of delivering a unique, unseen part of its history. Luckily, you can enjoy its tale of resistance even if you´re not a huge fan of traditional japanese settings, due to the great character cast. Being full of enjoyable, well written personalities, the little main cast in particular works pretty well, in providing a brighter contrast to the harsh, dark world. Even though the game definitely has some flaws in certain dialogues and its beginning is a bit too cliché for my taste, I was very happy with the end result of the story.
God Wars: Future Past makes use of nearly every known way to also tell its story in a wide variety of ways. From anime cutscenes, to 2D dialogues or even comic-like 2D sequences, everything´s present and works great. Where anime cutscenes are used in rather dramatic, important events, 2D comic sequences can add a feel of speed to the dialogues and events, that can´t be conveyed through classic 2D dialogues nor by cutscenes. Often, said diversity is used in pretty smart ways to deliver the desired effect and I heavily doubt it would´ve been possible to tell the story in an appropriate manner without one of these elements. Combined with the amazing visuals in these sequences, every god appearance is simply gorgeous, God Wars: Future Past is one of the few japanese games which nail story-telling and visuals at the same time.
Unfortunately, the actual in-game graphics aren´t even half as nice. Every battlefield is dominated by squares, rough edges and much more ugly-looking stuff, painted by laughable low-detailed textures and models that aren´t even on top with current Vita standards. The whole game lacks any kind of art style in its real-time sequences, throwing us into bland, uninspired squares. Nothing about the actual gameplay looks really good, even powerful special attacks are heavily suffering from them, making them way weaker than expected. I don´t know why Kadokawa went for a style that´s between realistic and artistic, at the end it´s nothing of them, just a pretty ugly game, lacking any kind of powerful presentation in its in-game areas.
Of course, SRPGs never offer cutting edge graphics most of the times, yet gameplay-wise Kadokawa didn´t experiment much either. I´m by far not an expert of this genre but if I would have to imagine how a SRPG would feel, God Wars: Future Past would be the gameification of it. During my playthrough, the game could never surprise me in any way, providing only the absolute classics of a SRPG, lacking any kind of personal touch. Surely, all of the systems work together to form a functional and quite robust SRPG, just without much new possibilities. As in every other SRPG, side or rear attacks deal more damage than frontal ones, you have special skills, round based movement, different heights, a huge variety of maps and different characters etc, but thats´s it.
The only quite “unique” thing about God Wars: Future Past would be its job system, which determines a character´s skills. Similar to Dragon´s Dogma´s personalization, we can choose a job for every single member of our party, beginning with three super basic jobs. Later one, I was nearly overwhelmed by the different branches of the jobs. After some hours, these basic jobs transformed into trees with 5 specialized jobs each, allowing for a wide range of possible specializations. Sadly, one feature isn´t enough to carry a whole gameplay.
God Wars: Future Past certainly has an audience with its great story, inspired by japanese folklore and told through various effective ways, while featuring a unique art style and feel. However, for people not interested in such tales of historical japan, especially lengthy ones like here, the game can´t offer much else. Overall, a lot of God Wars: Future Past´s potential is simply taken away by its uninspired, bad graphics, denying any sort of presentation and dragging the whole game down. On the other hand, the gameplay can´t offer anything new as well, feeling like the realisation of an average SRPG.
All in all, God Wars: Future Past is definitely a game that should be played for its story, due to the lack of any other great feature or unique aspect. Luckily, if you´re a fan of traditional folklore like me, you will surely have a good time, despite its uninspired bland gameplay and graphics.
[A Review Code was provided by NIS America]