God Wars: The Complete Legend on PC
After debuting on PS4 and PS Vita and then expanding to the Nintendo Switch, God Wars: The Complete Legend is finally landing on PC via Steam almost exactly two years beyond its initial release.
Of course, this kind of game really doesn’t suffer from age, as it’s as classic as you can imagine in pretty much all of its aspects, from graphics to gameplay.
God Wars tells the story of Kaguya, a princess born at the foot of Mount Fuji, destined to be sacrificed to calm the raging gods. Yet, her destiny changes when the young Kintaro and his sidekick Kuma release her from her confinement within her village’s shrine.
From then on, she has to forge her own destiny, helped by her friends and surrounded by popular characters coming straight from the deepest layers of Japanese folklore.
This is one of the most charming elements of God Wars: its roots in local legends and lore are extremely solid, making the game a rather unique experience even for fans of Japanese games. The game’s atmosphere is the labor of love of its creators, and it shows in pretty much every aspect of the game including the story, the characters, and even the gameplay.
Much like God Wars’ story, its entire design feels like it has just been pulled out from a time capsule. This is not to say that it’s antiquated. I would rather call it “timeless.”
The visuals are the one weak factor which may turn some off: the game was obviously created on a budget, especially in terms of technology. You shouldn’t expect advanced effects or super detailed character models. The graphics are simple and essentially Spartan, devoted to conveying gameplay without many frills.
That being said, God Wars looks clean and functional on PC. It doesn’t look bad, but it unapologetically refrains from dazzling you with visual glitz during gameplay.
“During gameplay” is a key concept, because anime cutscenes and some of the narrative moments rendered in a lovely manga panel style are absolutely charming, enriched by the character design of love simulation maestro Taro Minoboshi (well known for his work on Konami’s Love+ series), paired with the monster design by Takeyasu Sawaki, who created the monsters of Okami and authored El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron.
Even the more common visual novel dialogue-style narration that conveys the story through the majority of the game is well-served by the artwork, paired with a solid Japanese voice acting and strong writing, complementing the deep and engrossing setting and story.
As I mentioned before, the game feels a lot like a labor of love, and that shows clearly in its gameplay. Director Yoshimi Yasuda is well-known for feeling very strongly about simulation RPGs, and God Wars feels like his love song dedicated to the genre.
A superficial look at the mechanics reveals a style similar to classic games like Final Fantasy Tactics, Ogre Battle, or Jeanne d’Arc, but Yasuda-san and his team took that basic framework and boosted it to pretty crazy (in a good way) levels.
There is a metric ton of combinations between main and sub jobs you can set for each character. Yet, that’s just the first layer, as you can further customize your party with hundreds of skills among active and passive.
You could easily say that half of the game can be enjoyed off the battlefield, tweaking and min-maxing your characters until they shine from pure power, amplified by the fact that finding the right synergies can turn a good party into a powerhouse, and that’s very satisfying.
This attention to detail transfers to the battle stages as well: the developers made a conscious effort to create levels with plenty of interesting tactical situations thanks to the wise use of elevated terrain, choke points, obstacles, and more.
Elevation and positioning are important on their own, as you deal more damage from above, from the sides and from the back. On the other hand, attacking an enemy from below will result in a penalty. Of course, this works when you’re on the receiving end as well.
One of the gameplay elements I appreciated the most in God Wars is “Impurity:” MMORPG fans will be familiar with the concept of enmity or aggro, which you can skillfully control as a tank to attract the attention of enemies on you, protecting your party.
Impurity in God Wars works in a similar way: skills that increase it can draw enemy attacks on your well-protected characters, while those that reduce Impurity will keep your squishy characters relatively safe.
This, in turn, interacts with positioning to maximize your ability to bring all the damage you can to bear while holding your defenses up, much like a skilled fighter would use a sword and a shield.
There is a lot of complexity and depth in God Wars, but this doesn’t mean that the game is necessarily complicated. As a matter of fact, it’s impressively intuitive in most of its aspects. It doesn’t force you to delve into its deepest folds, but it encourages you to do so in a way that never really felt excessive or overbearing to me.
The ability to play with the mouse is a very welcome addition coming with the PC version, as it’s perfectly suitable to strategy games. That being said, the key binds still feel a bit too console-like, and some operations seem to require more clicks than they really should.
God of War doesn’t just excel in depth, but also in breadth. Especially considering the expansion added with The Complete Legend, we’re looking at easily over a hundred hours of gameplay, and I’m being conservative here. There is plenty to explore and to play, even more so when you get into the most advanced dungeons.
Ultimately, God Wars: The Complete Legend is both a delightfully classic simulation JRPG experience and a small glimpse on how the genre could evolve without abandoning its turn-based structure.
It comes with all the depth veterans of the genre expect without necessarily feeling unwelcoming to newcomers, and with so much content that novices will become veterans before they’re done with a fraction of it. Add to that an absolutely fascinating setting and an enjoyable story, and we have a winner that I can wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who isn’t allergic to turns.
Score: 4/5 – Great
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