Here’s one that didn’t get a whole lot of fanfare before being launched; it feels like God Wars: Future Past just sort of appeared on the scene one day as if dropped by a confused stork. That’s not to say it’s unworthy of attention, but at the same time it’s not hard to see why this one wasn’t subject to a blockbuster marketing campaign. God Wars does the fundamentals of the strategy-RPG and doesn’t do much more.
Long ago, the priestess of ancient Fuji sacrificed her youngest daughter to calm the angry gods. Years later, her oldest daughter Kaguya seeks to avoid the same fate as the world once again teeters toward chaos. Teaming up with axe-wielding forester Kintarou and giant godly bear Kuma, she goes on a search for the answers behind the chaos facing the world and the anger of the gods. If you’re interested in very, very classical Japanese lore, then this is your game; it touches on an early period that you don’t often see in games.
Players who are familiar with the strategy-RPG genre are bound to feel right at home here, since God Wars is about as standard of an SRPG as you can get. Characters take turns moving and performing skills during combat; you’re able to see whose turns are coming up thanks to a timeline, so you can set up multifaceted attacks or avoid enemies in advance. Thanks to a system that’s somewhat reminiscent of Final Fantasy Tactics, your characters have a selection of custom jobs to choose from; defeating foes earns your characters experience points to improve both their personal levels and the levels of their jobs.
Disappointingly, while characters can advance and progress to different jobs, they tend to only bring passive boosts with them, so you can’t create a warrior who can also use a priest’s healing magic as you could in Final Fantasy Tactics; making the character a warrior and priest together might work, but the second he leaves one of those jobs he’ll lose their abilities. Still, the system works well enough even if it doesn’t do much to differentiate itself from the SRPG crowd. That’s a dangerous path to tread when you’re trying to compete with the likes of Disgaea 5, but God Wars doesn’t completely blow it.
On the other hand, it’s not the most impressive title either, including when we’re talking about presentation. While the colorful Japanese art style works given the setting and plot, the iffy animations and standard anime character designs don’t do a lot for the imagination. In particular, I didn’t tend to be blown away by much of what I saw in combat, as characters feebly bash away at one another and throw piddly little fireworks out as magic attacks.
Likewise, music and sound are just kind of there; they fit the style but they don’t stand out. God Wars does have one nice touch that other games don’t; there are numerous comic-style and anime cutscenes that tend to look pretty great, and one ends up wishing that the rest of the game had been quite so striking.
If you’ve wiped the floor with Disgaea 5, then…maybe play the other six or so Disgaea games. Then once all those are done, try Final Fantasy Tactics and its sequels. Then once those are done, I guess God Wars: Future Past is worth a shot. Unless you have a particular interest in Japanese mythology – and if you do, then this is a must-have thanks to its cast of divine and legendary characters – then this SRPG just doesn’t try hard enough to stand out.