"God Wars: Future Past is an enjoyable SRPG that doesn't really do much wrong in the gameplay or story department."
Editor's Note: The Switch release of God Wars: Future Past is called God Wars: The Complete Legend, which is a collection including the main game and all of the DLC. This review covers the main game only.
God Wars: Future Past is a strategy RPG (SRPG) with a story that centers around ancient Japanese mythology and folklore. The protagonist is Princess Kaguya, the youngest daughter of Tsukiyomi, the queen of the Fuji Nation. Thirteen years prior to the game, Tsukiyomi sacrificed another of her daughters to appease the anger of the Myriad Gods over the fighting between humans, with Kaguya imprisoned as a potential second sacrifice. The fighting does not stop, the Queen mysteriously goes missing, and the Myriad Gods' anger only intensifies over time. At the beginning of God Wars, Kaguya escapes prison with the help of her friends in order to witness the situation firsthand, as well as find her missing mother to learn about the truth of her imprisonment.
The Japanese mythology behind the story gives God Wars a pretty unique feel for a strategy RPG; thanks to the way the plot is presented through cutscenes, the game has something of an "old school" feel that fits well with the overall presentation but doesn't bring much new to the table. In that regard, the characters aren't particularly original, but they're all still very likeable. Kaguya, as a female main character, is actually very refreshing. She's one of the few female characters in the game who isn't oversexualized, and she also doesn't fall into either the "strong, badass female warrior" or "cute/shy" tropes that often befall female characters in Japanese media. I also appreciate that God Wars really tries to keep characters involved in the story after they join the party and doesn't just let them drop off the face of the Earth. However, because the cast is so large, several characters' involvement in the plot is minimal at best and they get very little development outside of their initial introduction when they first join Kaguya's party.
Kadokawa Games have been able to get away with not having a high graphics budget for the title by utilizing a really interesting comic book/manga-esque style along with well-placed anime cutscenes, and I found that the art direction and look of these worked really well. In comparison, the in-game character models look surprisingly dated. The anime cutscenes and character art are vibrant and breathe life into the game's cast and setting, while the 3D graphics seem dull and not nearly as visually eye-catching. It's easy to picture them coming from a much earlier game, and oftentimes it feels as if there are two very distinct graphic styles, so visually it is not an artistically cohesive title.
God Wars' music really compliments these cutscenes, as well as the game's tone and settings. While I enjoyed it, I don't think it has anything particularly outstanding about it. The audio and sound quality were excellent, though, as no voiced scene ever felt too high or too low compared to the music playing at the time, and sound effects were timed to sync perfectly with what was happening on screen. Of special note is the fact that the game is dual audio (meaning you can choose between English and Japanese voice acting) yet does not offer subtitles for cinematics and cutscenes even when electing to listen to the original Japanese. This seems like a disservice to not only those who want to use the Japanese audio without being fluent in the language, but also gamers who have hearing impairments.
The gameplay of God Wars is pretty standard SRPG fare and very reminiscent of games like Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre, especially with the job classes and battle map setup. Honestly, there's nothing wrong with that kind of a battle system. The game does try to incorporate some unique gameplay elements, such as Impurity, along with positional battle armor and weapon stats. Impurity is a stat that increases or decreases the likelihood of a character being attacked in battle. It is raised or lowered depending on the player's actions out on the battlefield and requires mindful strategies even when using powerful healing spells or attacks. Weapons and armor change effectiveness depending on the height and range of the character on the map that has them equipped. For example, a spear does less damage if the opponent is above the character wielding it, but it deals more damage if the enemy is below them. I also found that, because of the large cast of characters, I only ever picked the same four characters for battles because their levels were near Kaguya's. It felt like God Wars would benefit from allowing you to have more party members available in battle.
There are also Shrine Battles, and these serve as extra/optional battles outside of the main story. These provide valuable leveling up opportunities and better equipment. Partaking in these optional fights will make the story battles much more manageable. However, because there are so many Shrine Battles, I found that I would spend more time on them than the actual story. Case in point, I got the Vita version of the game because it's cheaper and I usually play handheld games faster than home console ones. My God Wars playthrough actually ended up being over 100+ hours, something I never normally do on handheld games, and that was mostly because of these additional fights. I can see why they exist, but I don't think the Shrine Battles are implemented as well as they could have been, as they can be quite tedious, especially when they recycle battle maps and enemies.
The ending of God Wars is good, but it didn't quite deliver given the amount of time I spent playing the game. It alludes to there being more to the story, which is fitting considering that an ending story expansion DLC has been released since then. I'm quite curious about the DLC, and will definitely be checking it out later, as it is now available for both the PS4 and Vita. For those with a Nintendo Switch, the DLC is already included on that system's port titled God Wars: The Complete Legend.
God Wars is an enjoyable SRPG that doesn't really do much wrong in the gameplay or story department. The art style is gorgeous, and the cast is overall rather likable, though not unique. If you have played an SRPG before, you pretty much know what to expect in terms of gameplay, as this title certainly relies on tried and true elements of the genre instead of experimenting. While the number of repetitive optional battles can be overwhelming and diverts lengthy periods of time away from the plot, that isn't to say that I didn't enjoy my time with God Wars. Those really jonesing for a game centered around Japanese mythology or those just wanting a solid SRPG experience could very well find something to enjoy here.