Since it launched last year, the Nintendo Switch has begun replacing the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita as the home of handheld Role-Playing Games. With publishers like Atlus, Koei Tecmo, and NIS America switching gears to the new Nintendo, it is only a matter of time before the Switch’s RPG library may rival even that of the DS family. Continuing a summer of enhanced RPG ports, NIS America has now released GOD WARS The Completed Legend. This port of last year’s GOD WARS: Future Past includes all the previous expansions as well as the brand new The Labyrinth of Yomi DLC.
Is GOD WARS The Completed Legend a legend worth remembering, or is it just a relic of a forgotten age?
A Tale of Three Sisters
The story of GOD WARS The Completed Legend is very much that of a Japanese game. I don’t mean that the game is filled with fan service of the usual tropes. Rather, it is because the game’s characters, story, and setting are straight from Japanese legend. The story begins with the heartbroken Queen of Fuji, Tsukiyomi. Aiming to calm the rage of the gods, she offers her own daughter, Sakuya, as a sacrifice. After what appears to be a successful sacrifice, Tsukiyomi disappears leaving only her two remaining daughters behind.
The majority of the game’s narrative follows the youngest of these remaining daughters, Kaguya. With her name on the top of the list for Fuji’s next sacrifice, she lives a life of solitude and prepares for her seemingly unavoidable demise. After an improvised rescue mission led by her childhood friend, Kintaro, Kaguya is given a second chance at the life she relinquished. Free to live the life she chooses, she sets out for a quest to find her missing mother and learn of her unspoken intentions.
Whilst most RPGs focus on idealized medieval times or science fictional space, GOD WARS The Completed Legend takes place in ancient Japan. This rare setting gives the game a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately, the concept is better than the execution. While the characters all come off as endearing and memorable, the overarching story suffers in the long run. The game’s plot zig zags enough to make a Zigzagoon feel right at home. While Kaguya’s quest is by no means bad, the individuals are greater than the story they have to tell.
A Step Down Memory Lane
The GOD WARS The Completed Legend experience is that of a traditional SRPG. Whereas other modern series have successfully, or unsuccessfully, introduced new twists to mix up the genre, GOD WARS keeps things traditional. In fact, GOD WARS The Completed Legend plays very much like a PSOne or PS2 port. As with other SRPGs such as Disgaea and Fire Emblem, each skirmish takes place upon a square grid field. It is here that player characters and enemies alike spread like a game of chess. These characters each receive their own respective turn, allowing for movement, attacks, and skills.
Movement can take place either before or after another action, allowing for an up-close attack before a swift retreat. Attacks are basic battle damage based on weapon type. Axes, for example, are great at breaking shields. Meanwhile, Spears have twice the range of most melee weapons which allow mid-ranged attacks. Staffs, while physically weak, increase Magic Attack for skills. At the end of the day, skills are what truly allow GOD WARS The Completed Legend to shine.
By default, each character starts out with a number of Unique Job Skills and a Skill tree exclusive to themselves. From there, skills are learned based on the chosen class. In addition to their Unique Job, each character can be assigned both a Job and Sub Job. These include Warrior, Magician, Priest, and a plethora of others that can be learned in time. Characters can change jobs anytime out of battle, eliminating the need for items or level requirement. With Skills accessible between jobs, GOD WARS The Completed Legend‘s character customization is some of the finest around. Of course, this level of customization can ultimately remove the much of the characters’ individualities. Unique Skills are really the only thing separating these characters and the blank slates old.
Perhaps what separates GOD WARS The Completed Legend from other SRPGs is the implementation of “Impurities.” As with an MMORPG, players have the ability to pull aggro from one character to another. In GOD WARS The Completed Legend, enemies will primarily focus their attacks on the player character with the highest Impurity. This is where things get interesting. Certain Skills have the ability to decrease or increase Impurity. While players may generally want the delicate Kaguya to feature low Impurity, the more tanky Kuma shines with the highest. With help of Kuma’s high defense and damage suppressing Skills, he can literally take one for the team. With even boss enemies distracted by the game’s “best bear,” what could have been an uphill battle becomes child’s play.
Beauty is Skin Deep
GOD WARS The Completed Legend plays out like what one might expect from an early PlayStation title. Unfortunately, the same can be said when discussing the game’s graphics. The game’s best visuals come in the form of its static character art. These 2D designs masterfully combine modern inspirations with traditional designs. Unfortunately, this attention to detail does not carry over to the in-game models. The character models are uninspiring and lack the charm of the characters’ original designs. As the character cut-ins all look great on their own accords, it only makes the subpar 3D models that much more disappointing.
When it comes to SRPGs, GOD WARS The Completed Legend sadly features some of the most unmemorable maps to date. As mentioned above, each battle utilizes a grid-based field. While such places aren’t always the most memorable battlegrounds in gaming, the average SRPG generally includes at least a few featured attractions. The Princess Minerva map from Fire Emblem Shadow Dragon, for example, still haunts me to this day. The lasting effect was so great that the recent Fire Emblem Warriors recently featured it as a challenge map. When it comes to GOD WARS The Completed Legend, however, there really isn’t much to see.
As the game begins, the Asian inspired backgrounds appear like eye candy. By a few chapters into the game, however, players may very well see all the stages that the game has to offer. What should be a quest throughout the wonders of Japan, instead often feels like characters running around different sections of the same map. With little to no lasting effect offered by the land of Mizuho, it could be difficult to see it as home worth fighting for.
Voice of an Angel
As usual for NIS America, GOD WARS The Completed Legend features dual audio. While the dub is by no means bad, it is a bad inconsistent as far as talent goes. Todd Haberkorn voices the game’s initial protagonist, Kintaro. Best known for his work as Natsu Dragneel in Fairy Tail, Todd Haberkorn reassures dub fans within minutes of the game. Kaguya, who appears shortly after Kintaro, is voiced by Christina Vee. Beloved for her work as Hyperdimension Neptunia‘s Compa, Fate/stay Night‘s Sakura Matou, and Noel Vermillion from BlazBlue, some might mistake Christina Vee for the voice of an angel. Seeing her filmography, probably a pretty innocent one.
While the main cast is made up of impressive voice talents, the same cannot be said about the rest of the game world’s inhabitants. Whether due to budget or an attempt to bring in the laughs, many of the enemies fought have voices only a mother could love. While more voiced lines in a game are always a plus, leaving some of these one-shot characters unvoiced could have helped players see them as an actual threat.
The Sound of Japan
As a game taking place in an idealized ancient Japan, creating the right soundtrack is key. Luckily the staff did just that. The games audio, inside and out, sound like the type of music one might hear at a sakura festival or any given day in Kyoto. With traditional Japanese instruments playing in the background, the game can easily immerse players even without attention to the similarly inspired visuals. Need to take a break from the game? Leave the music playing to add some soothing themes to your everyday life.
Overall, GOD WARS The Completed Legend would make a worthy addition to any serious SRPG collection. The game is friendly towards newcomers yet offers enough depth to excite even the most veteran players. The soon to be iconic impurity system adds a new layer of strategy to the genre without ever feeling forced. Kaguya, her sisters, and their traveling companions may very well find themselves in our hearts.
HEY! HEY!! LISTEN!!! gives GOD WARS The Completed Legend 8 sacrifices out of 10.