We all lead busy lives. It becomes progressively easier to find a game that has no end in sight and mess around with it than it is to find a short ten- hour game that I can sit and finish in a few sessions. Sometimes those ‘shorter’ games have a larger focus on story and those stories can get lost if I set the game down for a week, or a month, or even a year.
Perhaps that’s why we’ve seen a rising popularity in roguelikes/roguelites over the past decade. People have more time to do one quick thirty-minute ‘run’ to achieve a small amount of progress so they’re able to go right back to their Netflix binger. It’s a vicious cycle, but in a market nearly flooded with content (both good and bad) it’s not unreasonable.
Ideally, Nintendo’s Switch shines best with games like this. Games with dozens of hours of content can feel a little less daunting when I’m able to play during my commute, between daily meetings, or – let’s be honest – on the toilet. One such game is Kadokawa’s God Wars: The Complete Legend, a comprehensive port that collects everything from the original PS4/Vita game God Wars: Future Past. Don’t let the name fool you; this is better than anything in that dreadful X-Men movie with a similar name.
Coupled with all of the bonus DLC that’s also included that’s roughly 150 hours of gameplay in store for you. That’s quite a lot, to be honest. In fact, just one new addition, Labyrinth of Yomi, is touted as being even longer than the base game itself. Of course, it’s the type and style of that very gameplay that will determine just how much “value” God Wars provides. It certainly offers plenty of bang for the buck, but is it worth it?
It all depends on how you look at it. This isn’t a straightforward RPG that emphasizes a soaring, epic storyline with impeccably intricate characters. No, it’s a tactical strategy-RPG focusing on strategy and combat. This translates into a more pure gaming than cinematic experience, one that may divide digital adventurers. Some may find the story lacking weight or even any significance at all, and the combat slow and perhaps too challenging. Again, both complaints might be true if you’re expecting a modern, linear game. But for those actually seeking more strategic thrills on their travels, your ship has come in.
God Wars’ visuals, as well as its combat, are very reminiscent of those PS1-era tactical RPGs that were all the rage around the turn of the century. The one that immediately comes to mind is Konami’s isometric slash-o-thon classic Vandal Hearts – high praise indeed. It’s very Japanese, in both style and tone, which means hand-drawn anime artwork and loads of melodrama. Some of you will, naturally, take to both these things like a kitten to catnip.
This is a very simple design that has proved effective in being able to deliver a compelling strategy-RPG experience time and again, so it’s not surprising they didn’t rock the boat. You take your turn moving and/or attacking. Once you’ve made your move, you hit wait and then it’s on to the next person. Repeat. Whether you succeed and progress is entirely up to the successful implementation of your strategy beforehand,
Much like those games, you’ll eventually find yourself in a situation more hairy than you first imagined. Choosing the “wrong” placement of a single character could spell the end of your party much sooner than you’d like, meaning another “chance” to rethink your strategy and try again. And by chance I mean total failure and having to replay the area, often many times, on the road to victory. Once you become acclimated to the UI, you’ll find yourself up against a slight challenge since the AI is hurting you just as bad as you hurt them.
Where many similar games may feel repetitive, God Wars helps alleviate this by adding tons of customization to its characters. Each can have a Job, Sub-Job and Unique Job. These are all basic classes that one would come to expect to find in most RPG adventures, but this helps add some flexibility. Add to the various skill trees associated with each job and that’s a lot of helpful XP at your disposal to tailor them just to your liking.
The story started off very typical and it largely sticks with the same motif the entire way through. I wasn’t expecting to be so drawn into some of its specific beats, however, which led me to start caring more for specific characters and apply myself a little more. You’ll notice I’m not being all that specific with regards to the actual plot or scenario – it’s largely by-the-numbers for the genre itself, with the expected character archetypes designed to appeal to fans. This didn’t bother me a bit, as the sheer amount of actual gameplay and content are the real shining stars here.
Even though the game employs an overworld map as the level select and each level is separated into what is essentially a floating island of a map, parts of the game can feel almost open-world. I found myself accepting side-quests that allowed me to revisit older maps to gain more XP and access to chests I missed prior. It’s more a facade of openness than the real thing, but convincing enough that it adds to the allure of depth the game pushes itself to the limits to have.
If you’re looking for something with long-lasting appeal and even longer-lasting play time, it’s easy to recommend God Wars: The Complete Legend, especially if you’ve got a Switch and lots of time to invest. Fans of classic Japanese tactical strategy-RPG classics like Vandal Hearts or Ogre Battle should definitely take a closer look as this feels like the spiritual successor you’ve been waiting for. There’s a LOT of content here, and hardcore fans should expect at least 100+ hours of strategic fun before they completely exhaust what’s available. But remember to take a break now and then; those Netflix shows won’t binge-watch themselves!