|Platform: PS Vita|
God Wars: Future Past is developed by Kadokawa Games and after Natural Doctrine, it’s the second tactical role-playing game from the Japanese developer and publisher. Kadowaka Games is also known for games like Demon Gaze, Kaintai Collection, and Root Letter.
NIS America has taken over the localization of God Wars: Future Past and publishes the game in North America and Europe while in Japan, this is done by Kadowaka Games itself.
God Wars: Future Past is set in ancient Japan in the beautiful land Mizuho which is made up of the three nations Fuji, Izumo, and Hyuga. When natural disasters like flooding, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions have destroyed the harvest in various locations in the land, Tsukuyomi, the Queen of Mizuho, sacrificed her daughter Kintaro to the enraged gods to save her kingdom from further catastrophies. Her other daughter Kaguya was confined in a bamboo seal and then, Lady Tsukuyomi mysteriously disappeared.
13 years later, riots broke out in Fuji and Princess Kaguya, who was now a beautiful woman, was saved by her childhood friend Kintaro. To avoid the same fate as her sister, Kaguya has escaped together with Kintaro to travel across Mizuho to discover the truth about her mother’s disappearence.
Together with their ally Kuma, Kaguya and Kintaro will encounter a multitude of enemies and new characters on their adventure in the land of Mizuho. The captivating story is told in 4 chapters, each of them divided into various episodes.
Each chapter begins with an anime cutscene, strangely enough these are only subtitled from the second chapter onwards while in the first chapter, English subtitles during cutscenes are missing. It seems that someone at Kadokawa Games or NIS America hasn’t done his job properly. To understand the story it’s recommendable to play the first 30 minutes with English voices and then change to Japanese dub.
After the first battle where Kintaro saves Princess Kaguya during the riots, you find yourself on the world map where the adventure takes place. Here you can see where the next event starts, and places where you can prepare your party for the next fight. Several icons are located on the map like two exclamation points for conversations, two swords which means battle, and a house tells that there is a shop or a shrine.
By pressing the triangle button, the World Map Menu opens where you can select Edit to change jobs, equipment, and learn skills to customize your units. Here you can also get an overview of your items in your Inventory, to save or load a game, change options or have a look in the Picture Scroll where you find already unlocked story elements, unlocked character descriptions, as well as glossary and an option to hear the different background musics.
At the shop, you can buy, sell, or try on items and equipment to prepare your party members for the upcoming fights. After you bought new equipment, you can equip it with Edit on the World Map. There is also an option in the shop to try on weapons or items to see their effects on your characters.
A character’s class is called Job and each character has a main job and several sub jobs which are optional. The job system is quite neat as it lets you customize your party members very individually. The weapons you can equip depend on your main job which means that for example swords can only be equipped by warriors. Characters can use active skills they learned from main, sub and unique jobs.
To level up the classes (jobs), you need Job Points (JP) which you earn during battle. By increasing job levels, you can unlock new jobs which also can be leved up again to further increase the classes. Learned skills enhance your characters with extra abilities depending on the classes. In the Skill Tree, you can spend JP to learn and enhance skills. Some skills you will learn along the adventure like God Skills and Holy Skills which are very powerful.
For each character you can also set passive skills which give each party member additional boost. Up to 2 accessories can be equipped to further improve the characters’ battle performance. Generally, the customization of classes and skills is quite easy to understand and is also suitable for newcomers to the genre. Customization is huge with 30 different job classes, 200 different weapons, and over 600 skills to learn.
When you enter a new battle area, the game shows an aerial view of the setting following a close-up view of the enemies you will encounter which is a nice feature. The story normally develops with conversations, either with the enemies or with the party members. When the battle starts, it’s your turn to take over.
At the beginning, you have to select the characters for the battle and choose their position on the area. In earlier episodes, you only can use 3 to 6 characters at once. Later in the game, you can choose up to 12 party members for battle. After you are set, the fight begins.
By selecting a character, you can choose to move, do an action like attack, use a skill or an item, search the area for treasure or defend. You can also check the status of each character and activate the AI if you prefer that characters fight automatically. If you don’t want to do nothing, you can also choose Standby.
As the game is turn-based, you can choose commands for each character individually for the best battle performance. After all your party members and the enemies have performed the actions, the next turn begins until one side has been defeated. Basically, the control system is quite intuitive after playing some time, only at the beginning it can be a bit tricky for newcomers of the genre. With left or right shoulder buttons, the camera can be rotated and there is also a zoom in and out function with the right stick.
While playing the game is generally quite enjoyable, what hinders the fun is that battles are taking very long and consume too much time compared to the time used for story telling. Normal fights can last up to 30 minutes because of a superior number of enemies and their excessive strength. Worst example is episode 6 in chapter 1 where I needed 45 minutes to beat this area. It seems that Kadokawa Games wanted to make the battles as long as possible but this feels actually like a punishment to the player.
With the long battle times, the turn-based gameplay gets so repetitive after some time that I asked myself how can Kadokawa Games think that someone would enjoy doing the same things over and over again? Only to repeat it in the next chapters again. I actually was kind of relieved when an episode had no battle at all and only featured story telling. But unfortunately, only the minority of episodes are like that, most episodes are dominated by battles.
A kind of awkward advice is that the game tells you if you feel battles are a little tough, accept some requests at the shrine to train your allies. The first available request is to fight against some stray dogs. These stray dogs are moving so much faster than you and can kill one of your allies in just one move and you are actually helpless. Showing you this request as the first option to level up is a complete joke as it’s just too difficult for untrained characters.
Generally I must say that the game’s difficulty is unbalanced and I think that Kadowaka Games either wanted to make the game as difficult as possible or has no idea of a balanced difficult level. I started the game on normal as it said this would be for experienced players of tactical RPGs and the standard difficulty. But playing this game on normal will become frustrating very soon. Although the game says Easy would be for beginners, I would say that the easy mode is for experienced players and an easy mode does not exist.
While normal episodes can be mastered on easy mode with enough herbs and life stones (or grinding but that takes lots of extra time), boss episodes are on a higher difficulty level. If you don’t have enough healing items or life stones with you, you will get killed easily. Also quite annoying is that before a boss episode you can’t buy items in the shop as access to the World Map is granted, you only can edit your characters and save. How stupid is that!
Due to the repetitive battle gameplay and the long battle times, I stopped playing in chapter 2 as things didn’t change for the better. I needed around 7 – 8 hours to complete the first chapter and as there are 4 chapters, this would mean around 30 hours to complete the story, without doing any side missions (requests). Although this would mean you get lots of content for your money, in my opinion the battles are stretched on purpose to achieve a longer gameplay time. Generally, battles with a length of 15 minutes would have led to a much better gameplay experience.
Another negative aspect of the game are the long loading times before an episode intro and again when the battle area is loaded. You normally have to wait 20 seconds each time until the story continues or the battle begins which is a lot. Another nitpick is that some of the characters don’t fit to the game, like Aome and Inaba who both look a bit weird.
Each episode comes with a new, beautiful setting and guarantees that visually the game won’t get boring. Characters are also nicely drawn, only one nitpick is that some characters don’t have the same appearance than on the story telling screen. For example Kintaro looks more like a woman on the battle field.
The world map beautifully shows the land of Mizuho and animations like the walking Kaguya or a floating boat are nicely done. Most of the time, the game runs fluid during battles, but sometimes it can lag.
The game features an appealing soundtrack which fits to the setting in ancient Japan very well. The level of the music and voices is not balanced well and needs to be adjusted manually for a better experience.
The English voices are terrible and I don’t understand why NIS America has included them as the English voices don’t fit to the game. Japanese voices are fine and it’s recommended to play with Japanese dub.
God Wars: Future Past tells a captivating story beautifully set in ancient Japan with an appealing soundtrack. Due to the unbalanced difficulty and the long battle times, the game can only be recommended to hardcore tactical RPG fans who love to sink into hours of turn-based battle gameplay. Newcomers to the genre can become frustrated very easily as a real easy mode does not exist.
God Wars: Future Past PS Vita Gameplay:
The review was written and provided by Michael. All screenshots are from the PS Vita version. The review is based on a review copy which was provided by the publisher.
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