Strategy RPG’s are not my jam. While I do prefer the big adventure game some strategy games have held my attention for a little time. I still do pick up XCOM every now and when I feel like it but those times are few and far between.
Sadly God Wars: Future Past is a well-rounded strategy RPG but not one which will keep me entertained for long. While visually the game draws strongly from Japanese mythology and has some stylishly Ghibli-style cutscenes the story falls short in a few too many places and relies far too much on boring repetitive tasks to keep me engrossed for a long time.
The story opens up into a land of three nations ruled by three leaders: Amaterasu, Tsukuyomi, and Susanoo. Due to the long lasting conflict between them, the spirit of Mt. Fuji have grown angry, and as such require sacrifice to amend the damage across the region. Therefore the leader Tsukuyomi offers her daughter Sakuya as a sacrifice to appease the spirits and sending her other daughter Kaguya to living in isolation. The game is set 13 years after this, where a series of circumstances frees Kaguya from her imprisonment and sets her on a quest to find her mother a gain answers for her imprisonment.
Also there is a fighting bear. Every game should have fighting bears.
While this narrative is compelling the constructing elements in general are not strong. The story is pretty much a series of goose chases. You set off to first find a significant character, then are turned away to find another character, who tells you to head to a location which can then only be opened by going to acquire a certain item. This quickly gets boring, not helped by the forced feeling of interactions between characters, the repetition of unimportant points and the abrupt declaring and reaction to plot points. This all lends to a rather unnatural feeling cast of characters who struggle through all of the Japanese namedrops, though this can be mitigated by switching to Japanese voiceover and appreciating the nicely animated cutscenes and well-drawn character models.
The combat, while not awful, is a mixed bag. The strongest facet is the job and skills system. You get plenty of options choosing class which each naturally offer a different type of skills to utilise. They’re all nicely rounded, offering both offensive and defensive capabilities making each character more varied. You can also equip two jobs at the same time to mix and match, and finding a good combination is incredibly satisfying, especially if you can match them to a characters unique passive and active skills. This will be a system you will get used to, as enemies tend to enjoy using debuffing effects and you will lose quickly if you cannot counter them.
While class variety is the strong end, the low end of this spectrum is the actual fighting. While the turns and attacks themselves are fine, the map variety and quest design makes fights much more boring. While some maps are quite unique and interesting, most are just simple fields of similar shape and size. With a total of six characters in the party also you tend to feel cramped as the maps all seem just a bit too small, not helped by the chibi models used on the map.
It sadly doesn’t get much better, and how God Wars handles side quests is perhaps the lowest point of the game. Put simply they are repetition, you will be playing the same map two or three times with different enemy sets. There is no motivation, no dialogue and no story and while they give experience and loot they are at best a chore.
God Wars has its positives and negatives. The job system is cohesive and the skill system has a lot to play around with. However the game around it is far from good. A little more time, maybe some more love, this would have been a far stronger package. But as it is this game is only worthy of an average 5, a score dragged about by good systems battling bad ones.
And maybe the bear. Maybe.