There is no god.
How many Dynasty Warriors games have there been? No seriously, how many? I know that the main franchise is up to number 8, but it seems like there have been two released every year for as long as I can remember. With that many games out there, it’s easy to see why some criticize the franchise for never straying too far from the formula. Well good news, Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers takes a massive change in direction. The bad news is that by trying to please everyone, the developer Omega Force have missed the mark by quite a margin.
Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers is not a Musou game; instead switching to a turn-based strategy approach. It is still instantly recognizable as a Dynasty Warriors game, but don’t expect much button mashing. I can understand the change in direction for this entry in the series, as a turn-based style does at least fit with the Feudal Japan setting that one would expect from Dynasty Warriors. But the problem lies in this change of style.
Platform: Playstation 4 (Reviewed), Playstation Vita
On one hand, Omega Force has to make the game appealing to fans of the series and also have to assume that these fans may never have played a turn-based strategy game before. They did this by making the game relatively simple to understand and play. But that results in the game ending up being dull. I’m no TBS expert and I really don’t like those types of games, so I was pleasantly surprised when I was able to get to grip with the mechanics of the game. So in one sense that’s a plus for the game. But even I became bored after a few hours, which means that those who want a turn-based strategy game with depth and complexity and going to be left feeling totally unfulfilled. Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers is a prime example of a jack of all trades, master of none.
The story follows Zhao Yun and his best friend Lei Bin, who discovers a mystical entity called Lixia trapped in a magical seal. Upon releasing her, they decide to travel across the three kingdoms to discover her origins. From there I kind of zoned out, with each story beat seemingly there just to fill in the gaps between the action. I had no love for these characters and never felt invested in the overall story. The story is presented in a mix of static talking head screens and cutscenes, but unfortunately these cutscenes are littered with odd glitches which would cause the background to flicker in and out. Not the worst in the world, but certainly off-putting. As the story progresses, new areas open up and provide new missions to undertake. Once those missions have been completed they are replaced with three optional missions that will grant extra rewards for completing.
Before each battle the player is given the option to plan the attack accordingly, giving the ability to set specific characters to key points on the map. It gives the illusion of depth, but in the end I never really bothered with it, as it didn’t seem to make a difference where I placed them. The main gameplay is mostly tedious; comprising of missions that require the player to either clear the battlefield, take out the opposing Generals, or catch specific targets before they escape the area. As with most turn-based strategy games, the action plays out over a grid map, with each unit taking turns. You take a turn to move the allied characters and attack the opposing armies, then the enemies take their turn. As Zhao and his friends defeat their foes, they fill up a Sync meter. Filling this up allows for a Sync move to be unleashed, which teams up two or more characters to unleash a devastating attack. It’s here that button mashing comes into play, as by hammering the X button will increase this attack’s damage.
It isn’t just the Sync mode that makes this title slightly different, it also has an RPG element to it. By taking characters into battle, they level up with each attack they make. This converts into SP points that can then be used to unlock stat boosts and special attacks. It does at least add a nice sense of progression for the characters you want to play the most. The attack animations look just as you would expect for a Musou game, with lots of crowd attacks and fancy moves. But these start to become repetitive after a few battles, meaning that I craved something new after almost every battle.
But at least there is the incredibly long list of playable characters, over 60 in total, with many of them having appeared before in the Dynasty Warrior universe, each with their own move set to explore. These guys will unlock as the story progresses and if you really want them to be useful, it’s best to take them into the side battles to level up. There are also 1200 weapons to collect in the game, each with their own bonuses. These weapons are found in chests earned during battle and can be sold or reinforced at the local merchant. The merchant can be accessed from the overworld map, and will prove handy later on as you try to manage all of the crappy weapons you’ve found.
Those who are used to the Dynasty Warriors franchise will at least be happy to see some of the characters that they love from the series, along with lots of nods and winks. But Omega Force’s difficult position of needing to please both fans of the franchise, while also trying to bring in fans of a different kind of genre, has resulted in a muddling experience that may start out promising for turn-based newcomers, but quickly turns stale.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.