A love letter of longing and living

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By Anthony L. Cuaycong

WHEN KADOKAWA GAMES released God Wars: Future Past on the PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 4 last year, it put forth a tactical role-playing game awash in Japanese lore. Its story, which began with a Queen’s sacrifice of a daughter to appease the gods and continued with the other daughter striving to find out why, offered a stunning look into the history of the Shinto-steeped Land of the Rising Sun. Parenthetically, the hope that the narrative would pull in and not alienate Western audiences was answered with success on retail shelves.

Considering the positive reception, it’s no surprise to see God Wars subsequently making its way to the Nintendo Switch. This time around, it’s appropriately packaged as The Complete Legend, already containing from the outset all downloadable content released on the Vita and PS4. Along with the inflation-proof price tag also free of the so-called Nintendo tax plaguing most ports to the hybrid system, it winds up presenting a wholly engrossing, bang-for-the-buck experience that will remind gamers of the heyday of strategy-based RPGs.

It helps that God Wars was seen to fruition by the chief executive officer of Kadokawa Games himself. Indeed, Yoshimi Yasuda steered its development off knowledge borne of his three-decades-long fascination with ancient Japan fueling its plot lines. Featuring mythological figures and backdrops, it fittingly unveils itself through cutscenes and expository text eschewing over-the-top art and sound designs prevalent in present-day RPGs. The result is an outstanding directorial effort shining the spotlight on deities that engage as much in mischief as in guidance.

To be sure, God Wars: The Complete Legend’s finest facets can be found in its gameplay, which ties in well with the story and features elements reminiscent of those from the best SRPGs in the 1990s. A bountiful cast of characters — led by Princess Kaguya, her friend Kintaro, and his animal companion Kuma — is fleshed out thoroughly. And as the principal protagonists journey through the country’s landscapes in search of the Queen, they take on roles and become subject to not inconsiderable player customization, serving to increase their preparedness for encounters against any and all sorts of enemies.

As God Wars: The Complete Legend progresses, so does the frequency of battles increase. In this regard, the mechanics are thankfully engrossing, with characters traversing a grid-based map and confronting targets with a level of speed and degree of effectiveness based on their unique stats. In this regard, the terrain plays a significant part, with positioning determining the efficacy, or lack thereof, of attacks and defenses.

As with most other releases in the genre, God Wars: The Complete Legend requires no small measure of leveling up. Stages and confrontations become progressively tougher, stiffer, and more drawn out, necessitating strategic planning and direction. That said, it manages to stand out in its capacity to strike a healthy balance between risk and reward. Teamwork and timing are keys to victory; how party members are able to work together and when they use their skills and equipment in furthering their cause move to shape the outcome.

In terms of presentation, God Wars: The Complete Legend is well suited for the Switch and its distinct on-the-go options. Even undocked, colors are vibrant and acoustics clear, with nary any frame drops. The controls are spot on, and while the in-game menu system can border on the tedious, the interface poses little difficulty to navigate. And once mastered, it lends positively to the overall experience. Players will be invested in seeing the elaborately spun tale through, with their take on the complexities of man’s relationship with nature enriched by their experience.

In the final analysis, God Wars: The Complete Legend represents the apex of Yasuda’s vision. Devoid of the flaws that marked its earlier releases on the PS4 and Vita and offering up hours upon hours of new content, it is a love letter of longing and living well worth its $39.99 list price, and one that figures to keep gamers engrossed time after time.


Video Game Review

God Wars: The Complete Legend
Nintendo Switch

THE GOOD:

• Steeped in Japanese lore

• Storyline and gameplay mesh well

• Features progressively challenging battles that require strategy to win

• High degree of character and party skill set customization and development

• Excellent localization and dubbing, with educational summaries available on call

• Outstanding Switch port with all previously released content included off the bat

THE BAD:

• The narrative’s historical backgrounds occasionally require additional research

• Grinding is necessary

• Enemy encounters can be drawn out

RATING: 8.5/10