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 game from one of this game’s developers 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 I would say it paid off pretty well.

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

Note: This review was edited on July 2nd, 2017 to better reflect my opinion of the game after having cleared its additional content.

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 about.  

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.  Though, I will say that the expansion plotlines, which take up the latter half of the game, do have a stronger sense of focus to them, even if they can feel a bit less substantial.  Particularly the storyline introduced in Resurrection, which mostly centers around something happening again and a single new threat in the form of a more adaptable Aragami.  Who also happens to be a pain to fight.

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.

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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 customized melee weapon and shooting them in their weak spots with a customized 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, and the visual feedback from each hit.  Movement in general feels smooth, the act of striking an enemy feel satisfying, and shooting, while not great, allows for the large unloading of damage at a specified area.  In addition to this, characters can use their melee weapon to bite into enemies, devouring some of their energy and gaining a special bullet that can either be used to buff party members or fired back at enemies.  It is a constant risk reward system that spices up combat, and generally gives the combat a nice sense of flow.

It’s also worth noting that most party members run the spectrum of usefulness.  On one hand, they are very useful when up against weaker opponents and deal steady damage, and those equipped with healing capabilities are very effective in their roles, even if they only use healing bullets when characters are near death.  However, they become far less useful during the later difficulties, and can often require babysitting as they constantly seem to die, run out of healing items, fail to defend against enemy attacks, and on some occasions literally walk into them.  

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That being said, God Eater Resurrection does support a generous revival system in missions that makes the game easy in most cases.  Things can become more difficult and hectic when up against multiple foes who can lock the party into a combo or rapid death and damage, and while most battles with single foes are manageable, there are some in the late game that represent colossal difficulty spikes.  Especially near the end.  Two of the final missions in the Resurrection storyline were absurdly difficult tests of endurance that resulted in my team members falling down within minutes of the mission starting and required me to effectively rethink my build and look up fan guides just so I could progress.

Another difficulty factor in all of this is the camera, which can be difficult to maneuver when up against multiple foes, and the minimap is easy to ignore.  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 the annoying missions again.

There certainly are irritating elements to the core combat, but even when compounded with gripes like how enemies all have a bit too much health, the annoyances rarely overwhelm the innate joy of bringing down an Aragami and ripping a God Arc into their smoking corpse.  While I could look at elements such as the occasional stupid difficulty spike or potentially annoying monster chases across the map, they are very much minor elements of this game.  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.

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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.

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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 about 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.  Also, the bullet customization is just baffling unless you can understand advanced 3D geometry and determining the right equipment can be a pain.

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 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, 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?

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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.

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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.  

While my time with God Eater Resurrection had some frustrations, I was alway eager to see what would come next and continue its gameplay loop, which I found rewarding enough to invest nearly 100 hours into.  It is a 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.  

Wait… the sequel came out in Japan before this game, so this game actually has some unique improvements over its numbered sequel.  Well darn.

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