Ryu’s Musings – God Wars Futures Past (PS4)

GWFP_keyart2.pngLanguage: Audio: English & Japanese
Developer: Kadokawa Games
Publisher: NIS America
Format: PS4
Type: T-RPG
Demo Box: PS4 Pro
Synopsis: GOD WARS Future Past is a tactical RPG that explores the untold history of Japan through folklore and tactical combat. Gamers will experience the traditional stories of Japan’s origin through the lens of three warring nations, with a massive expanse of tactical options to develop their strategies from including a myriad of character classes and equipment within innovative and challenging stages.

For me tactics games like this either end up being immense fun, or nothing but tedium. So when a new one comes around I always find myself stressing out over what the end result is going to be. God Wars is one such game, and one that has surprised me.

In the run up to the games release I was hearing all sorts of negative reviews of the game. So I have to admit I went into this game expecting to regret the time investment. Thankfully I can say that thats not the case, in fact the opposite is true, I’ve rather enjoyed my time with God Wars.

Now, thats not to say the game isn’t flawed, because honestly it is flawed. However that docent mean a game can’t still be enjoyable!

So what is the game, well it’s a tactics game. They seem to have deliberately tried to emulate the older style of tactics games such as Final Fantasy Tactics. Which on the one hand isn’t a bad thing, since games from that era were (and are) good damn awesome. However the problem with mimicking games from that era means you mimic the flaws of the time as well. That is sadly very much the case with God Wars.

So like all of the genre, the battle is played out over a grid, characters move a certain distance and act quicker based on stats. You take more damage when attacked (or do more when attacking) from behind, and on higher ground. All the usual and expected aspects are here.

Progression is the same, you have two jobs, a main and sub, which you can change. As you progress through the job combos other jobs open up so on and so on. You also have a ‘special’ job that can’t be changed. The first two jobs are pretty standard, and reflect you’re characters growth and changes as the game progresses and grows; you get to define where you want to go. The unique job is more about you’re character, and tells more about who you are, rather than what you are.

All told there’s nothing new here, its the old being polished and made shiny again. But that doesn’t make it new, which means there’s not really a lot to get excited about, mechanically. Games like this are primarily about the mechanics, so with nothing new being added here the game is already off to a ‘meh’ start.

Where the game does however stand out is in it’s narrative, which in a lot of tactics games are it’s weakness. Here however the narrative is it’s strength, and this is because its not a made up swords and sorcery, demons enveloping the world, usual Japanese story. Rather this time around Kadokawa used japans own mythological history as a basis for this games story.

Japan, like all of the eastern nations is a deeply spiritual nation, which is highlighted by their history and the way spiritual things like gods, demons, ghosts and ghouls are integrated into their history.

Kojiki is their earliest record of myths and histories dating back to a time before japan was even called japan.

Now, don’t go expecting historically accurate story here, cause that’s not going to happen. The interpretation is fairly loose, since when you get down to it this is still a fantasy story. Yet despite that the ‘realisim’ comes through based solely on the fact it is based on ‘real’ history.

So whats the story like?

The country is in the midst of war and natural disasters. To counter this the Priestess of Fuji essentially throws her daughter into a volcano to appease the gods, and brings in an age of peace. Well, say and  ‘age’ but it’s around 14 years I believe.

This is where things get a little odd. The game starts in a town with 4 people in it, two of them decide they’ve had enough of starting and decide to go force the overlords to open the granary so they can nick all the food.

The next person is an old man, who turns to you (Kintarou) and asks if you’re going to go with them. You say no, because you love peace and hate fighting. Then literally in the next breath say you’re going…. I’ve no idea if this said this in the original Japanese version, or if it’s just a result of the translation and editing. But this made no sense to me and made the character seem like an idiot right from the start.

You go to the shrine, beat the crap out of the guards (with your local friendly bear god I might add!) and Rescue the girl locked in the the shrine (when isn’t there a girl locked in there). Who it turns out is an old friend who you promised years ago to rescue, but are only just now getting round to.

For me this who sequence just felt wrong, it was like everything you’re doing is secondary and has no really meaning. For me this felt more than a little off, and sadly got worse as time went by.

As the game progressed I found the over arching story to be where the meat of the game was. I wanted to see how things played out, what the end results were, and frankly more importantly was Sakuya, the girl sacrificed at start really dead!

However the character story, for me was a little weak. While I liked it’s tie in with the actual mythology of japan, and found that aspect to be really well done, the interactions of the characters were stilted, and at times didn’t make a lot of sense.

Now lets move onto graphically, which the game handled graphics really well. However I have to admit that overall I found the PS4 version of the game to be a little weak. Frankly it was clearly designed around the PS Vita. While the cutscenes are amazing, with their flowing animated comic strips, which merged seamlessly with anime cut scenes; the actual combat screens left a lot of dead space on the TV screen.

That aside however I found the animations to be of a pretty decent level and only found myself cringing now and again. Usually when trying to figure out if something was high ground or not, since you couldn’t always tell!

One final point to note, while you can change the language to Japanese for some reason there’s no subs on the anime scenes which makes following along substantially more difficult. Sadly this means you get to mis some awesome voice acting, and have to sit with the lack lustre english VA. Though admittedly I still prefer the Japanese, even if I don’t understand whats being said all the time! That’s how bad the english VA is.

So, finally, is it worth buying? If you like tactics games then absolutely. It’s a good solid all round addition to the genre. It doesn’t do anything amazing, but neither does it suck. However the price of the game makes me more wary of recommending it. Frankly the game (on PSN) is stupidly over price for what it is. £44.99 on the PS4 and £34.99 on the PS Vita. These should have been priced around the £34.99 on PS4 and £29.99 on PS Vita. And indeed, if you look around amazon you can find disk versions of the game for around that price.

Author: Ryu Sheng