God Eater Resurrection Review

20160905213806_1So, I’ve been slowly chewing on this game for about two months now, and I’ve actually forgotten why I thought it was a good idea to purchase God Eater Resurrection, or more particularly, God Eater 2: Rage Burst, which came with this game as a bonus.  My experience with hunting games such as this is limited to Freedom Wars.  A hunting game from the same developer, Shift, that I thought was needlessly restrictive and ultimately frustrating, as detailed in a review I barely remember writing.  I guess I was just in the mood to give them another chance, and, well, I’d say it paid off pretty well.

God Eater Resurrection Review
Platforms: PC(Reviewed), PS4, PS Vita
Developer: Bandai Namco, Shift, QLOC
Publisher: Bandai Namco

The premise of God Eater goes a little something like this:  Decades ago, the world was ravaged by a ferocious species known as the Aragami, an adaptable collection of sovereign cells that join together to form a ferocious beast, a monster, or as the game not so subtly alludes to, a god.  This left humanity in shackles, and most of society destroyed.  The few remaining human settlements are managed by the last remaining world government, and their only line of defense are God Eaters, a group of young adults who utilize an amalgamation of weapons and Aragami cells, known as God Arcs. to fight off the foes, and risk their lives in trying to defend what remains of the world.20160908214840_1

There is actually a lot to go on here, and plenty of room for the game to grow using this premise, but the story really doesn’t do that.  Actually, it’s kind of a mess.  Many of the plot beats feel at odds with others and fail to form a very cohesive whole of a story, as this game is simply not just about a bunch of teens slaying monsters.  Instead, there are conspiracies, tortured pasts, genetic cross-species pseudo-science, and even mind reading, all smushed together in a story that already has a lot of layovers between substantial story events.  Thereby making things overly complicated, and harder to follow or truly care abou.  I hoped this would improve in the content that was originally relegated as an expansion, but no.  The same problems persist, and the plot still moves like molasses if taking on every mission possible.  

Characters, meanwhile, consist of various anime archetypes who serve as being the youthful backbone of this game, with the cast of main characters forming a balanced cast with just enough personality for them all to come across as semi-developed characters, but the same courtesy is not offered to the supporting cast.  Before the expansion content, or in other words, for the first forty or so hours of the game, the supporting cast contribute next to nothing to the main story outside of occupying the HUB environment.  It’s actually quite eerie in a sense, and makes the characters come across as monodimensional set-dressing for dozens of hours.20160915212511_1

On that note, the vast majority of the game is spent, as expected, hunting various Aragami through environments that were clearly limited by PSP hardware, along with three AI controlled party members.  The player is tasked with pursuing and slowly destroying the creature, or in many cases creatures, by bashing them with a selected melee weapon and shooting them in their weak spots with a selectable firearm.  While simple, the act of attacking an enemy and dodging their strikes has its own appeal, due to the well established fundamentals of this game.  Movement in general feels smooth, the act of striking an enemy feel satisfying, and shooting, while not great, allows for the rapid unloading of damage at a specified area.  Also, you can use your melee weapon to bite into enemies and steal devour some of their energy for yourself and energy that can be shot into party members.  That’s pretty cool.

It’s also worth noting that most party members also require very little in the way of maintenance, and seem to actually have situations handled well, even those who are a bit more gung-ho than others.  They are receptive to attacking, and if given the right loadout of skills, make for very effective healers.  Even if the amount they restore the main character with can be paltry as they often only heal when they are near death, and require a healing item in order to give them enough buffer to survive a powerful attack, such as a forward dash.  Seriously an enemy’s strongest given attack is always them running into you.  How does that make sense?20161015090627_1

That’s not to imply that this game is hard. The generous revival system in missions actually makes the game pretty easy overall, but there are several difficulty spikes, mostly by following the rule of numbers.  Fighting one Aragami is just fine, fighting two is manageable, but when you have three or more enemies, not including the fodder enemies, things become very hard to manage.  Though, the camera is certainly a big factor in this as its narrow viewpoint left me unable to foresee attacks, or in many cases, even realize that an enemy was right behind my character until after she had been mauled and knocked out.  The game implies that you are suppose to lure enemies away and take them off one by one, but if there is a way for the convoluted and seeming finicky ordering system to do that, it’s beyond me.  I just powered through and told myself that I would never repeat that mission again.

There certainly are irritating elements to the core combat, but even when compounded with how enemies all have a bit too much health, the annoyances never overstated the innate joy of bringing down an Aragami.  While I could look at elements such as the occasional stupid difficulty or potentially annoying monster chases across the map, they are very much minor elements of this game, as even when I was failing, I was still having fun, and was left with a sense of satisfaction after I tore the remains of an Aragami from their corpse.  Although, there is a lot I’d like to change about the bits outside of combat.20161017202730_1

God Eater Resurrection does not use any form of traditional leveling for its characters, and instead weapons, skills, and accessories are all upgraded as time goes on, using a wide variety of crafting materials.  By a wide variety, I mean there are hundreds of items that only exist for this purpose, and can be obnoxious to locate as the game does a poor job of telling you where an item can most easily be found.  While you can craft your craftable items into different craftables, and have access to lists detailing what resources can be found in a given environment or mission, the entire setup is inconvenient.  If this sort of setup must exist, at least let the player prepare to craft the item they want, press a button, and be told where they can find the materials they need.

Inconveniences like this can be seen throughout the entire pre-mission setup process, as the player needs to manually restock on healing items, even though they cost next to nothing to buy, and do research on the Aragami they are fighting, namely their weaknesses.  The presentation of this is inconsistently done through mission descriptions, and often requires a detailed memory or a glance at the bestiary to figure out.  Even though it would be easy to list an enemy’s strengths and weaknesses in the mission summary using icons representing elements and damage types.  But they didn’t because… I don’t know.20160909220624_1

I also have no idea why the skill system was designed this way, as it is a pain to so much as explain.  Basically, there are passive skills attached to each piece of equipment, which develop more as equipment is upgraded.  Additional skills can be added to this equipment by using skill items, which themselves can be further combined into skill items that most often have a completely randomized skill attached to them.  Probably a crappy one, as half of the skills are needlessly situational.  When combined with the capabilities to apply these skills to various party members, things quickly become messy, and a lot of this supposed gameplay depth just comes across as redundant over complicated nonsense.

Moving on to the next category, I’m happy to say that God Eater Resurrection looks wonderful.  There are very clearly some limitations present here, but the game ultimately looks like an HD PS2 title with loads of additional effects and surprisingly high quality textures.  Well, on everything aside from the Aragami, who do look a bit muddy.  As for the art style, well, it’s peculiar at the very least.  The environments are largely grimey post-apocalyptic set dressings occupied by various monsters whose designs range from plausible genetic mutations that exist for the sake of survival to, well, one of them is a skull tank with missile pods.  How is that thing supposed to be made of cells?20160911113331_1

While the humans are mostly presented as cel-shaded youngsters who adorn themselves in fashion that is brow raising in a post-apocalyptic world, and even more when considering that they are effectively soldiers who mutated themselves to defend the remnants of mankind.  I actually had a theory that the freedom of expressing oneself with fashion was a luxury that was lost to most, and only a select few are given the privilege of indulging in it, namely the God Eaters.  But I doubt the developers gave it that much thought about it, or narrative discrepancies found with how Aragami are presented in cutscenes, and how they are presented in the game.  In short, the fact that they are viewed as a massive threat is pretty hard to swallow given how easy they are to kill in-game.  

As for the music, soundtrack, and general handling of the audio, it’s easy to look at, or I guess listen to God Eater Resurrection and view it as a mess.  The audio balancing in cutscenes is often poor, with imposing music or voice clips that play at a higher volume than they are suppose to, while the audio in combat is drowned out by the repeated lines and sound effects.  It’s a real shame, as I like the assortment of anime voice actors that were gathered to dub this game, and after listening to some of it outside of the game, the soundtrack actually has some pretty enjoyable tracks on it, especially the ones with lyrics.20160909220624_1

Being an enhanced port of a PSP game that itself was ported over to PC, I am inclined to compliment God Eater Resurrection for a breath of visual and gameplay options, rebindable controls, and general stability.  Although there are some noteworthy limitations and issues.  Even though they controls are remappable, sometimes keys retain their default functionality when rebinded, loading times can last upwards of 15 seconds, even when the game is installed on an SSD, and then there is the unobtrusive DRM known as Devuno.  While not as bad as some alternatives, as it simply checks in with the servers at the start of every game, I still view the inclusion of any DRM to any game to be a notable negative.  

There is enough good in God Eater Resurrection to have me eager to return to it and finish the post-game content after my upcoming review schedule clears up a bit, but enough bad or annoying for me to be very hesitant with a recommendation of it.  It is a very messy and disheveled game despite whatever its remastered presentation may imply, and while I do find some sort of charm in that, I couldn’t help but feel that a lot could be done with this game.  Perhaps with a sequel that this game was bundled with on PC.  Which I’ll surely get around to… sometime in 2017.20160909135615_1

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