This game is not a SRPG that I would recommend to newcomers to this franchise, because visually it can be overwhelming, especially on the PS VIta. It’s a game I like, but I’m also disappointed by some of it.
Sigh…. Disappointments. Why oh why do they have to exist. Why is it that the things that we are most hyped for almost always disappoint us when we finally get them? When we are interested in something that we must wait to have, our expectations become inflated, and the longer we wait the more inflated these expectations become, which sometimes results in disappointment. My experience with God Wars: Future Past is partially associated with disappointment for what I consider to be a good SRPG, but not the best as I was hoping it would be. It’s not even the best one I’ve played in the past month sadly. And I know it sounds like the game may be bad, but it’s not, it just turned out to be a bit underwhelming when compared to what I was expecting.
To begin with, I want to be clear and go over all the things about the game that disappointed me, and then cover the stuff that I liked about the game, that way we can end this review on a high note, because as an overall package I did enjoy my experience with it. So how about we rip this band-aid that is my disappointment right of, shall we…
God Wars Future Past is set in a fictional land based on Japan called Mizuho. In this land Gods and human beings regularly come into contact with each other. The people of this land were originally peaceful, and lived in harmony with spirits and nature, but as they began to develop new forms of technology they started to diverge from their harmonious relationship with nature, resulting in conflicts between humans and their ancestral spirits. This tension was then heightened by natural disasters such as earthquakes and volcanoes erupting throughout the land. In order to put an end to these disasters, the Queen of the Fuji Nation, sacrificed her beloved daughter, Sakuya. The game takes place 13 years prior to this sacrifice, with the sister of Sakuya, Kaguya, escaping a prison that she has always known with the help of her childhood friend, Kintaro and his God companion, Kuma in an attempt to find Kaguya’s missing mother, and to also experience the world that she has never known.
This story is told via a mixture of short dialog sections, and strategy battles. Both aspects of the gameplay are done well, but I couldn’t help but find ways that it could be refined. One of the things that bothered me was the fact that the beginning was very tutorial heavy, and the tutorial isn’t that engaging. It initially involves looking at images while reading descriptions of what you should be doing, then trying them out in a short battle, and here’s the kicker. You’re gonna want to pay close attention to everything that is being shown to you at the beginning, because though the game has a glossary, it is only reserved for descriptions of characters, terms and locations you have come into contact with. There is no database for the tutorials that is readily accessible to the player, and this bothered me greatly, because I was eagerly skipping as much of the tutorial as possible in an effort to get into the thick of the story, only to realize that I couldn’t reference that information I skipped in a menu later. For veteran SRPG players, this is a common practice. We skip the tutorials because most of the mechanics we already understand then check the database in our downtime to learn of the dynamic features that are unique to the game we’re playing. Without a database with tutorials I see new players to this genre suffering even more so than those of us that are accustomed to it. For me I was able to quickly figure out how to do all the things I skipped, but for new players that may put down the game for a while then return to it, this may result in a bigger problem to them.
This game is also not an SRPG that I would recommend to newcomers to this franchise, because visually it can be overwhelming, especially on the PS VIta. Almost every inch of the screen is usually stuffed to the max with data related to your player, the area around them, settings and more, and there’s no way to reduce any of this information. On the PlayStation 4 version this isn’t really an issue, because the screen size makes up for it, but on the vita it just feels claustrophobic at times.
The last peave I had with the game was related to its dialog. It’s brief most of the time, not conveying as much as I think it should, and the English voices outside of cutscenes lack emotion most of the time. I tried the Japanese voices and they were better, but in the end I opted to lower the voices and just read the text myself. If you’re bothered by the execution of English voices as I was then I recommend doing the same.
Mmmmh… Now that that’s out of the way we can begin talking about all the things I liked about the game. Straight off the bat, this is an SRPG fans SRPG. What I mean by this is that the game is not lacking in the gameplay department. Battles are varied, and very technical. Oh and most of all I love the camera. I don’t think I’ve seen a camera this good in an SRPG before. Most cameras in these types of games usually offer you the choice of one of 4 angles, but this one allows you 8. Which means you can view the game from in front and behind the character. Any fan of this genre will know just how much of a plus this is, and for those that don’t understand, let me try to explain. When playing an SRPG you usually have areas with multiple level, and sometimes these levels are arranged in such a way that the regular cameras that these games tend to have are ill equipped to accurately convey the positioning of your character in the environment. The camera in God Wars: Future Past also allows for multiple levels of zoom, and when partnered with the multiple angles it is capable of panning around the character, you get one of the most fluid, dynamic cameras ever used in this genre.
God Wars: Future Past also has an interesting cast of characters, and an exceptional job system. Each character joins your party as the story progresses, and they join with their own goals, and backstory. I found this more appealing than having random created players that I would have imprint with personality. This is because I always prefer games that are more story driven than those that I have to driven the story with my actions. Each character is also unique due to the lore of the game that allows for Gods to inhabit animal type bodies, and a number of different regions that each have their own differences. Characters can then be enhanced for battle by tinkering with the job system. Each character will have between 2 and 3 jobs at a time. One job is called the Unique job, and is different for each character. This is also a job that can’t be changed. The other two are jobs that can be swapped out on the fly to give your character different moves and characteristics. The main Job always gains more XP than the Sub job, so deciding on what Job you wish to use for a character will depend on how you wish to use that character in battle. These moves and characteristics are obtained by using the skill trees to associated with the different jobs. No character is stuck with any job or playstyle, so I recommend experimenting with job system till you find something that works best for the way you want to play.
Graphically I am in complete awe for what God Wars: Future Past has on display. It’s like a healthy mixture of water brushed art with bright colourful modern anime, and it looks magnificent on both the PS Vita and PS4 versions of the game. It even has a dynamic way of zooming in the camera when moves are executed to show off those beautiful chibi characters that I love so much. As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, I had high expectations for God Wars: Future Past, and it all originated with the graphics. I was in love with it from the moment that I saw the first trailer and screenshots, and I’m still in love with it now that I’m able to play it myself. Characters are very detailed, and the environments are lively with carefully crafted attention to making it arguably one of the best looking games in this genre.
God Wars: Future Past is a game made for SRPG fans, period. It is not likely to sway you if you don’t already have interest in this particular genre. It’s a game that doesn’t hold your hand much after the initial goings, while at the same time not being as complex as titles like the Disgaea series. It does stumble in a few aspects like the with its VOs, cluttered HUD on the PS Vita, and the lack of a proper database, but as a whole package it has more to offer than not.
The copy of God Wars: Future Past used for this review was supplied to us by it’s publisher NIS America.