Kadokawa Games‘ turn-based strategy RPG, God Wars The Complete Legend, hearkens back to other classic games in the genre and is the definitive version of its original release, God Wars Future Past, by including all of its previous updates and DLC as well as including new content titled Labyrinth of Yomi which makes this package well over 100 hours of play time. While God Wars The Complete Legend doesn’t do anything extraordinary, it certainly scratches the itch for those looking to move their units on grid-based maps and push forward with different skills while having a pretty Japanese ink art style to go with its story rooted in Japanese folklore.
Natural disasters have been occurring all over the land of Mizuho and it seemed the gods were upset as evident of majestic Mt. Fuji’s uproar. In an attempt of desperation, Queen Tsukuyomi of Fuji offered to sacrifice her daughter Sakuya into Fuji’s smoldering crater in order to bring calming peace to the lands. Although the queen was breaking down in tears, 6 year old Princess Sakuya showed tremendous courage and was happy to give herself up if that meant stability for everyone else. Falling into despair, Queen Tsukuyomi felt the need to vanish and her disappearance led to a new leader in charge by the name of Kitsune. As the story continues, we meet a noble warrior named Kintaro and his Myriad God sidekick Kuma who run into an imprisoned girl named Kaguya — Sakuya’s younger sister then — who had been kept that way since the age of 4, in case the need of another sacrifice was to be made. Being the true princess next of kin and now a wanted target, Kaguya and her new friends take a journey to different locations finding specific people and answers.
Originally developed with PS Vita in mind, there’s no mistaking God Wars’ overall graphics to be a little underwhelming given what can be achieved on Switch’s hardware. Animations aren’t fluid and textures are of low resolution. Depending on one’s mindset, it can feel like a nice blast from the past making it easy to accept. Still, even with those gripes, God Wars actually does a good job with its presentation as a whole. Story is told in actual maps during gameplay while characters exchange dialogue. Character portraits also pop up with animated facial expressions, with the choice to disable them during scenes if desired. Best of all, there’s full-on voice acting for every line in both English and Japanese languages. Choosing either truly boils down to one’s preference as the aesthetic and voice direction are very anime-like. This is further backed by anime cut-scenes sprinkled in the game which are very well done. The only downside is that in order to maximize the experience, players must be fluent in Japanese when choosing it as the main language. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem for me personally, as I often choose the project’s native language and read subtitles, but there are no English subtitles displayed during these animated clips and no option to enable them, either. Weird! Aside from that, the Japanese language works perfectly everywhere else as text boxes in-game will be displayed in English with Japanese voice overs. Thankfully, the English is decent; for the main characters at least.
Progress is made through traversing a colorful, if not slightly blurry, 2D map which is of fairly decent size. Sectioned into chapters, players will meet a lot of new characters and learn new gameplay features taught along the way. A character on-screen indicates your current position while a cursor behaves separately for choosing your next destination. Locations mostly serve the purpose to get to the next battle, but also towns, cut-scenes, shops, and shrines. As your character walks to the next location in sight, a new location might appear in-between your current location and the destined one, which may result in a surprise battle. Players can choose between Easy, Normal, and Hard difficulties at any time as long as they’re not currently in a battle.
The mechanics in God Wars are pretty standard when it comes to turn-based strategy, but there’s still fun to it all. Environments are cubes displayed in an isometric view. One thing that’s handled well in God Wars is the camera. Adjusting the viewpoint can be done in two different ways. Using the right analog stick will move the position in 45 degree increments meaning you’ll get 8 different angles. Pressing L or R will move it 90 degrees. Basically, if you always enjoy a “diagonal” (X) point of view instead of completely vertical/horizontal (+) adjacent to the characters’ positioning, you can always retain that angle or vice-versa. The overhead view also tilts lower and higher respectively. Pushing the right analog up or down also changes the zoom. In most cases, you can always see the action.
God Wars The Complete Legend allows players to eventually have up to 14 different characters in their party to choose from. With over 30 different classes and more than 400 skills to learn & enhance, you always feel like you’re making progress. This can be attributed to the Job system in place where different skills can be learned by spending Job Points (JP) earned from battles. Each character has 3 slots for jobs: Main, Sub, & Unique. It’s required to always have a Main job of your choosing as this is your play style, while Sub is completely optional (although a good idea to have one). Since your Main job is of more importance, it earns the most JP while Sub earns less. What really sets the characters apart are the Unique jobs, which are already set in stone, cannot be changed and are exclusive to that specific character.
As you level up with your jobs, more advanced versions of them become available improving your overall stats and adding new skills. As one would expect, Warriors are best for close-range attacks while Magicians can handle situations further away, for example. Unlocking new skills in your Skill Tree that falls under your job may also serve as a passive effect as well. Each character may choose up to 3 different passive skills at a time. Perhaps you want the ability to increase your damage whenever allies are near or you want a chance based on percentage of automatically removing negative status ailments when it’s your turn. Skills also cost MP in battle. Items may be used to recover MP, but it’s also recovered over time on each turn. If players choose not to Attack or Defend and choose the “standby” option instead, more is recovered.
The battle maps also contain variety and offer some choice. Usually the victory conditions require you to defeat all enemies or just the boss, but elements surrounding that will change how you play. A character or object may need defending. Not only that, optional points of interest may sway you to reach them, possibly putting you and your team at risk. Treasure can be found on maps if you know where to look. Shiny spots have a chance to earn you items. Herbs, good for recovering HP, may be collected from grass or you may collect a valuable crystal from a rock. Depending if you have the skill required for it. Also on maps are wicker boxes. These are chests containing an item, but they also might contain a trap. Gold wicker boxes contain rarer items. Choosing to open a box, use an item, or search an area is counted towards an action so the ability to attack afterwards is not possible. It’s a risk vs reward for the player.
Terrain plays a key role in all actions. The same applies for direction. Being in water will decrease your evasion and aim, while being on rocky terrain increases it. There’s also advantages and disadvantages to terrain height. Being on higher ground will increase your damage while being on lower ground decreases it. If you and your enemy are on the same ground, attacking them head on will do standard damage. However, attacking from the side will add a medium bonus to your attack while attacking directly behind will add a high bonus. Using positioning of both terrain height and direction faced is pretty much always a factor.
God Wars The Complete Legend doesn’t have the most striking graphics, but character designs and monsters, whether it’s their portraits or in-game, do look great. Chibi characters have very nice colors and they’re all pronounced in the scene by thick black outlines sticking true to the Japanese ink art and wood carving. The music is good, too. The battle theme is exactly what I’d expect, even if it remains the same. The map screen has a nice orchestral style to it. Some of the tunes are memorable while others just get the job done.
Players may find the need to grind and there’s a lot for it. Those looking for extra money (leaves) and items can do just that. You’ll definitely want money. Optional Shrines can be accessed on the map where players can make an offering of set amounts that grants certain buffs before a battle and when accumulated to a specific total grants a gift. Furthermore, certain requests can be chosen at shrines which involves completing a certain task. These side missions generally go on previously played maps with a different setup.
The game also does a fine job of respecting your time. Players may do a quick save on any turn during battles. If you find yourself needing to quit the game for any reason, you can pick up right where you left off without having to restart the battle. Reading previous dialog in order, in case you missed it or wanna retrace what was said, is also possible. A feature in the options known as Picture Scrolls contains a BGM menu to listen to the music tracks you’ve obtained so far, a glossary for all the locations, characters and story beats all with descriptions and pictures applied to them. Overall the visual presentation is easy on the eyes and not bland. There is one annoying issue, however. As much good as I stated about the camera functionality, it doesn’t do service in some situations and partly ties in with the UI elements. For instance, when choosing a skill, its stats and description is displayed next to it. Often this covers up characters and grid spaces on-screen; the camera can’t be controlled here. I have to hit B and cancel out of my selection every time in order to readjust it. The same applies to whenever action is taking place whether from you or the enemy. Seeing an enemy hit you behind a wall without being able to change it is sometimes aggravating.