"For those going into the title simply looking for a fun, engaging experience, God Eater 3 delivers."
"Rise above a world of desolation" is the tagline for God Eater 3. It's a lofty ambition that nicely fits the game's post-apocalyptic dystopian plot, but does the game itself ever reach such heights? That answer depends solely on what you're looking for in this type of action RPG. God Eater 3 definitely does entertain, even if it isn't deviating from the standard formula of past games in the series.
To newcomers, the world of God Eater is perhaps a bit bizarre. Set in the near future, civilization as we know it is toppled by the appearance of monstrous creatures known as Aragami. Naturally, Aragami have voracious appetites, and it isn't long before the Earth is turned into a wasteland. The few human survivors struggle to stay alive under the banner of the Fenrir organization, and the only thing keeping the Aragami remotely at bay is the emergence of God Eaters: people who can wield the specialized weapons capable of defeating these creatures in battle. The God Eaters quickly become the line in the sand between humanity and utter annihilation.
God Eater 3 adds to the series' lore by providing further devastation to an already suffering planet. Before the game's start, a cataclysmic event occurs that creates the Ashlands, large expanses of land that are fatal to most living things. Humanity is once again plunged into chaos with the protection of Fenrir collapsing, causing an "only the strong survive" mentality to take root. People live in settlements called ports, relying on a special group of new God Eaters to survive. These people, referred to as Adaptive God Eaters (AGEs for short), are capable of surviving in the deadly ash. Because of this seemingly inhuman trait, AGEs are treated as prisoners despite their vital roles in maintaining the ports' safety and the fact that their ranks include several young children. This installment has the player taking on the role of one such AGE, part of a small family unit that has experienced the harshness of living under port rule firsthand. Calamity strikes the player character's home port in the form of an Ash Storm, ironically enabling your left-behind Port Pennywort family to take their first steps towards freedom and hope.
One of the things that has always drawn me to the God Eater series (relative to other monster hunting titles) is its focus on story, as that is a primary reason for playing an RPG. I like the bio-punk feel to the God Eater universe, and I appreciate that the series does try to give us a narrative to get invested in as we slay the numerous monsters the games throw our way. God Eater 3's plot will not win points for originality since it is filled with the same anime sci-fi tropes you've probably come to expect from stories like it, and yet I found myself invested in it all the same. Much like the ever-expanding Ashlands, the narrative grows on you as you fight your way through the story.
I ended up caring a surprisingly large amount about the plight of the Port Pennywort AGEs such as Hugo, and I enjoyed the cast's development arcs immensely whenever they appeared. The characters are all enjoyable and grow in their own ways, although special mention should be made of Phym, an innocent child character who grows attached to the player character after a certain story event. She even follows your character around on the transport ship all the time! Seeing her evolve was quite emotional, and I loved discovering simple things like how she'd mirror you performing a simple gesture like a "hand wave" because she was so attached to your person. Despite not being the greatest narrative, I found that God Eater 3's story is compelling enough that you'll probably want to see what comes of it.
Of course, I can't really mention the plot of God Eater 3 without discussing the fact that once you reach the game's ending there is a very large sense that you've only at the story's halfway point. This is even further strengthened by the sudden joining of a recurring series character to your party roster once you reach the post-credits' Rank 7, though I'll refrain from mentioning who it is due to spoilers. Bandai Namco has already announced that the story will be continuing in DLC format later on, but that does leave you with the impression that you've only bought and played half the actual game so far. Hopefully, future DLC won't leave the story on such an incomplete note.
Speaking of characters, it is certainly hard to overlook the extreme fanservice of the female characters in this game. You might notice it early on when creating your female avatar for the first time and getting a little "bounce" to your character animation, or you'll definitely notice it the second Hilda makes an entrance. It is so blatantly obvious I was often left wondering if support wardrobe options were just non-existent in the GE-verse. The fanservice is so over-the-top that it comes across as completely ridiculous, and I'd usually take a second or two to mock it every time the game's camera would noticeably focus on it. I think the fanservice does a disservice to the female characters of since I actually found them to be likable and fleshed-out on their own once I managed to get past my reaction.
In some ways, God Eater 3 plays like a well-worn glove. I've enjoyed previous games in the series, though it has been quite some time since my last playthrough of one. I found that I was able to jump right into this title without missing a beat. The tutorials were just enough to remind me of the usual steps I've taken before, though I do wonder if they'd be considered too short or not informative enough if one picked up the game without prior knowledge. Gameplay-wise, I found myself quickly getting back into the swing of things and often wondered if the game was holding my hand too much though, again, I'm hard pressed to say if a newcomer would feel the same.
That sense of familiarity is God Eater 3's biggest strength and its greatest weakness. On the game's surface, there's a lot of info to take in and a wealth of combat options to choose from. There are several weapon types ranging from melee to guns, and even a variety of defensive shields to customize your playstyle. Do you use the large tower shields that take the longest time to deploy but offer the best shielding, or do you go with a quicker buckler that won't protect you as much in but will guard at a faster pace? Do you want to be a sniper and shoot at targets from far away, or would you prefer peppering their sides with lasers as a distraction? Are you more of an in-your-face combatant who wants to create devastating combos with a short reach melee weapon, or do you want something that will let you hang back and feel less out in the open? There are a ton of possibilities, but once you find a playstyle and weapon type that appeals to you, you'll be ready to tackle anything in the Ashlands. Once you've chosen your preferred playstyle, however, there isn't really incentive to switch things up.
There are some new Aragami to be found in God Eater 3, along with familiar faces from the previous games, and you can use your God Arc to devour to your heart's content and gain added strength in fights through Burst. Missions are ranked, timed affairs that will grant more rewards and crafting materials depending on how well and quickly they’re completed. On the higher difficulty-ranked missions, the game will try to spice things up by having you fight multiple Aragami at once, but that just adds an extra frenetic note to the tried and true methods you've already grown accustomed to.
There's nothing wrong or broken about God Eater 3 and its mechanics. All in all, it is a well-rounded game that took a working formula from its predecessors and simply added a bit more. I enjoyed playing those previous games, and I found myself enjoying God Eater 3 for the same reasons. But that's probably the biggest issue people will have with the title: it really doesn't try to stand out or differentiate itself. If one were to compare it to, say, Monster Hunter: World, one would surely notice God Eater 3 took a safer route by staying with the familiar. It isn't going to turn heads by offering a newer, fresher experience, but it will satisfy those who simply want more of the standard God Eater game mechanics.
This is the first God Eater game that I actually had the pleasure to play co-op; I must say, while I'm used to the way the AI controls the other party members during solo runs, God Eater 3 certainly gains a whole new life when played cooperatively. I found the fights flowed better when playing with others, and I even noticed myself adapting to better fit the actions of my teammates. With the AI-controlled characters, you can get pigeonholed into a strict routine. It is a much different case with co-op play! I never noticed before that I was hoarding all of my healing items in solo runs, but I found myself using and sharing them freely during fights with friends. To further add to the co-op experience, God Eater 3 has special missions called Assault Missions where parties of eight God Eaters can join together to take on some truly harrowing challenges. I'd definitely recommend giving co-op a try if you have a friend also curious about God Eater 3, as the experience makes an enjoyable time all the more so!
Graphics-wise, God Eater 3 is a serviceable game. It isn't going to be breaking any PC or PS4 limitations, but it looks nice, especially in motion. Some of the Aragami designs are quite impressive to look at and see up close, and the game has very pretty anime cutscenes peppered throughout. I only wish there had been more variety in the areas you traverse to really see what the graphics can do, but that just isn't the case. It doesn't help the impression of routine when environments often repeat as you explore and the monsters aren't varied, beyond perhaps differing elemental types.
Special mention should be made of the music, as composer Go Shiina's OSTs have always been a strength of the series in my opinion. While I felt like some tracks were weaker in this game, I felt there were quite a few well-placed theme songs, and songs that helped to get the blood pumping for fighting Aragami. Story scenes used music to great effect, and there was one scene in particular towards the end of the game that used the gorgeous ballad song "God and Man" from the series in the best-conveyed way I have yet heard. For the most part, the music was implemented incredibly well into the game's presentation. Players can also choose between Japanese or English voice acting as well, which is nice for those who have a preference.
Overall, while I can't say that God Eater 3 does much to step away from the paths of its predecessors, I enjoyed my time with it. I had fun devising strategies and gathering crafting materials, so much so that I never once backed down from doing even optional missions when playing. Even though I was recovering from a bad throat and ear infection, I look at time spent playing God Eater 3 fondly and found that I'd eagerly jump into the game even when not feeling my best. For those going into the title simply looking for a fun, engaging experience, God Eater 3 delivers. With the promise of future DLC on the horizon, I'm definitely looking forward to the next chance I'll have to sink my teeth into the Ashlands.
This review is based on a free review copy provided to RPGFan by the developer. This relationship in no way influenced the reviewer's opinion of the game or its final score.