While turn-based RPGs have undoubtedly come a long way since their inception, there’s a lot to be said for the classic iterations of the genre. While series like Final Fantasy have completely changed the idea of what a strategy-RPG is, making the latest games nearly unrecognisable as a result, certain newer releases are setting their sites back to the golden age of RPGs. God Wars: Future Past is a love letter to the classic tactics games which pioneered and pushed the genre forward. By sticking to the tried and tested formula but adding in some modern twists and allowances, the game easily goes toe-to-toe with the games it is trying to replicate.
God Wars: Future Past takes place in a world in which Gods and Humans live side by side. The two lived relatively peacefully until humans started down a route of technical advancement, which in turn angered the Gods. In order to appease said Gods and the ready to erupt Mt. Fuji, the Queen of the Fuji nation, Tsukuyomi, sacrificed her second Daughter bringing peace to the region. The game opens with a rescue mission. Tsukuyomi has gone into hiding, leaving one of her other Daughters imprisoned in case of another volcano hissy fit from the Gods (Great Mother, am I right?). After breaking Kaguya out of her cell, the team set of an adventure across the mythical land of Mizuho in search of the missing Queen and some answers as to why the girls must be sacrificed in such a way.
The story is told through gorgeous anime cut scenes which really help frame Mizuho as a fleshed out and magical world. Character designs are wonderfully unique and full English voice acting, while patchy in parts, makes the game a lot more accessible. Dialogue sections are also well animated, lending genuine character to each team member and bringing life to the huge range of weird and endearing NPCs.
God Wars really shines through its back to the oldschool gameplay. Fans of 90’s Strategy RPGs will feel right at home as soon as the action begins. The game really took me back to days sat in front of my PS1 playing Final Fantasy Tactics. God Wars does a great job of offering a game which feels like how we remember the classics to feel like but of course is a much easier beast to play. Seriously, Tactics is a masterpiece but load it up today and you’ll find a sluggish experience by today’s standards. God Wars features the same deep gameplay systems but introduces features which streamline the experience for today’s audiences. Battle encounters while playing the story are optional, allowing you to choose whether or not you want to grind for Job Points or just get on with the story. There’s also the option to equip your party with recommended loadouts meaning you can get as intricate and deep as you want or just get on with enjoying the game.
God Wars introduces an interesting mechanic called impurity. A characters Impurity changes when attacked or when magic is performed on them. A higher impurity will draw enemies to them. This adds an extra layer of strategy to the proceedings, requiring you to keep impurity on the tanks of the group while managing it for mages and ranged party members. Speaking of party members, there’s a wide range to choose from each adding their own set of skills and assets to the group. God Wars: Future Past features a Job system which is essentially a skill tree-progression mechanic where you assign a main job, a sub job and a unique job. The unique job is specific to each character but the other slots are open to customisation. By spending Job Points earned through battle, you can customise each character to your hearts content which produces the feeling that you really do have great control over how your party comes together.
Battles play out on an isometric grid which feature various levels of elevation and terrain. Attacks from above deal more damage while attacking from below offers diminished attacking power. Attacking from behind or from the side of an enemy also grants extra damage so manoeuvring party members carefully is key. The visuals during these segments aren’t exactly easy on the eye but do the job well enough. The 3D character models look pretty dated but maybe that’s the point, what with God Wars being such an unabashed throwback after all.
God Wars: Future Past is a exquisite recreation of the golden age of tactical-RPGs, its decision to stick to what made the classics great while streamlining some of the more dated mechanics makes it the perfect jumping on point for those looking to experience the genre. The visuals can be a little ugly at times but the feudal Japan style characters and setting, the wonderfully animated cutscenes and the sheer imagination behind the characters more than make up for it. God Wars: Future Past is every bit as good as the games it is so clearly inspired by and will no doubt fill a hole which certain players have been looking to fill for quite some time.