Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers (PS4 Review)
Japanese RPGs have come a long way in the past decade; relinquishing old traditions and shaking things up, often to appeal to a wider audience. The epitome of this would have to be Final Fantasy XV and while debatable in some aspects, there’s was no doubting it played and looked like a “current gen” JRPG that could only be done on the newest consoles. I’m bringing this up because going from Final Fantasy XV to Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers has been a strange experience; with the latter feeling like it was made a decade ago, despite being the newer game.
What’s also strange is the decision of making a turn-based RPG spin-off of the Dynasty Warriors franchise itself; a series known being shamelessly absurd and cheesy but nonetheless fast-paced and fun. Whilst you are still in a very loose interpretation of Feudal China, bulldozing through armies with a single overpowered warrior, you are doing so in turn-based combat similar to Nobunaga’s Ambition or Final Fantasy Tactics. It is honestly a bit jarring to see Dynasty Warriors take its foot off the accelerator so much, but can be compensated for if the gameplay mechanics are good enough.
Godseekers pretty much ticks off every box for having the bare essentials of a turned based RPG. You have a party of warriors that expands as you progress through various missions. You can change their items, individual weapons and auto-abilities. Every character also has their own skill-board to boost their stats and unlock said auto-abilities. In battle, your selected party members will take on enemies, from lower-class groups of soldiers to high-ranking commanding officers. All of your part members possess a handful of different attacks which can be stacked, as well as “Musou” attacks, which are earned by attacking and defeating enemies.
If you’ve played any tactical RPG of this kind, this will be nothing new to you. So you might asking yourself; what else is there that I haven’t seen before? Well, this is the biggest problem with God-seekers; whilst it does have the solid foundations required for the genre, it does very little else to build more upon that and is extremely formulaic as a result. The most unique feature is definitely the Synchro system; when your Synchro meter is full, you can have party members that are near-by to one another move and attack together, even if some have already done so in that turn. You also get an extra large-scale finishing move that does piles of damage depending on how many party member are in sync and how much you can mash on that X button.
The only other feature that is mildly unique in Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers is the Path of Destiny, which allows you to get rewards and access new missions via reading dialogue and fulfilling certain conditions be-tween the various characters in the Dynasty Warriors world; which would be all good if I cared about story. The series is not known for having any sort of compelling story arcs and they haven’t stepped things up for a genre where it matters most. In short, our two heroes; the generic good guy Zhao Yun and his monocle wearing scholarly friend Lei Bin came across a crystal, awakening the mysterious and very anime-looking girl Lixia. With her apparent powers of fate, the three journey through China to learn more of Lixia’s purpose and retrieve the elemental orbs held by various op-posing forces; including Lu Bu, who’s still the beastly badass he’s been in the main series titles.
Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers’ uninspired story isn’t the only issue present, there is also a low presentation value. Honestly, cutscenes only happen every now and then and most of the plot events play out in dialogue boxes without as much as a new screenshot. The minimal amount of spectacle here makes it difficult to care at all, with the Path of Destiny feature being little more than an arbitrary method of getting new missions and rewards. Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers is also visually behind the current generation. Backgrounds are pretty bland to look at, and while the models for the principal characters do look good, there is a noticeable lack of diverse facial expression in cutscenes, which continues to hurt the chances of chances being interested in the story when the characters barely look invested themselves. The soundtrack is commendable though, nicely mixing some rock and orchestral music with traditional Chinese instrumentation.
Godeseekers is pretty lengthy, if you opt to undertake all of it side-missions. You could be looking at over 50 hours of time investment; but less than half if you focus solely on the main missions. Generally, none of the missions were particularly trying or frustrating, but neither were they particularly exciting or inspiring. There is some effort to diversify mission objectives, whether it’s escorting an ally character to a specific location or chasing down a fleeing enemy, but with a lack of diversity with enemy classes amongst other things, it’s still scraping the barrel for variety. In an era of innovation for RPGs, Godseekers is lacking in a lot and even struggles to play to the strengths of the more thrilling main series. Unless you’re a die-hard Dynasty Warriors fan, you should seek another tactical RPG that’ll likely do a more interesting spin on the genre.