I am an unashamed fan of SRPGs, with PSP’s “Jeanne D’Arc” a personal highlight. That’s why when “GOD WARS: Future Past” was announced by our friends at NIS America, I was beyond excited. We haven’t seen that many entries into the genre on the Vita, with only the “Disgaea” and “Neptunia” (out of all things) franchises holding up the fort. So, how does “GOD WARS” stack up? Let’s find out.
As always, I’ll break down the game and deconstruct its parts, starting with the story: this is by far the most disappointing thing about “GOD WARS: Future Past”. From the beginning the story doesn’t even really make that much sense. The main character is sacrificed to the Fuji gods right at the start (don’t worry, it’s not a spoiler, it’s literally the first thing that happens) only to resurface 13 years later absolutely intact and waiting to appease the gods still.
Something may have been lost in translation, but I really cannot think why this occurs. Right after this, the village elderly tells farmers not to rebel, only to then support them when they do. The game is full of puzzling plot holes that had me scratching at my head, wondering if I missed some clue as to why things were evolving this way.
I’m happy to report, though, that things do look up after you get past the silly story: the gameplay is absolutely excellent. It is a bit more basic than other SRPGs, having for example no attack bonuses for units that are close to each other. On the other hand, though, it rewards you for your position on the terrain, so it’s actually a little more accurate than traditional games in the genre. You then have jobs, sub jobs, specialty skills, and a whole array of things that you can customize to make each character in your party shine.
I felt that the difficulty, even in the easy setting, was plenty challenging, and I like that. I think strategy games should be, almost by definition, hard. There were some odd decisions when it came to how terrain affected character movement, but one gets used to them fairly soon and it then becomes easier to place your character in such a way that your attack or skill will take effect, while still remaining just out of reach of your opponent’s next move.
Presentation is a bit of a mix bag: the anime-style cut-scenes are absolutely gorgeous, and the HUD and user interface are, while a tad small, very crisp. Sprites and terrain are a bit less enjoyable, but still very serviceable. It all kind of comes undone with the English voice acting, though. They did have a tremendously poor script to work with, admittedly, but it is made much more bearable by the excellent Japanese voice acting (which can be accessed through the options menu after Chapter One).
It really is a bit of an odd one, this game: if you were to take into consideration merely the looks and plot, you’d probably give it up before the second chapter kicked in. On the other hand, the gameplay is really quite good, introducing some refreshing tactical variables, which in and of itself is quite a feat in SRPGs these days.
“GOD WARS: Future Past” is no “Tactics Ogre”, but it doesn’t pretend to be. It’s a much more lighthearted take on the genre that, while it fails to deliver on presentation, delivers the goods with spades in terms of game play. And when it comes to an SRPG, isn’t that what it’s all about?
At a glance:
- Title: GOD WARS: Future Past
- Developer: Kadokawa Games
- Publisher: NIS America.
- Format: PSN Download / Physical
- Multiplayer: No
- Memory Card Space Required: 1.3GB
- PlayStation TV Compatible: TBC