Tactical turn-based RPGs sure have evolved a lot over the years. However, going back to basics can still result in an enjoyable gaming experience so let's see how God Wars Future Past's old-school approach holds up.
God Wars Future Past tells the story of the ancient land Mizuho and its three nations: Fuji, Izumo, and Hyuga. The tale begins within the nation of Fuji as a young princess is sacrificed at the hands of her mother in order to prevent the world from being destroyed. Meanwhile, the queen's other daughter (Kaguya) is trapped and awaiting her sacrifice as well. However, she escapes and goes on a journey in order to find out what her mother's true intentions are.
Throughout her travels, she'll meet a collection of friendly faces who join her along the way. Kaguya's childhood friend Kintaro helps her out from the very beginning and his strength makes him a worthy ally. Kintaro brings along Kuma who's a bear-like deity that he can telepathically communicate with. From then on, you'll meet a capable goddess, a goofy lady who operates a mine, a hot-tempered demon-like man, and a handful of powerful gods. Overall, the story has a solid premise and stays interesting throughout while the cast is full of distinct and endearing characters.
When it comes to gameplay, I was pleasantly surprised to see that God Wars Future Past is a throwback to classic games such as Final Fantasy Tactics and Vandal Hearts. The simplistic strategy RPG battles mix with in-depth character customization to create a rewarding yet easily digestible formula. Fans of these PS1 SRPGs will recognize many familiar elements such as gaining experience points per action, attacking from above and behind causes more damage, and having units close together boosts their stats. These aspects craft a constantly-evolving battle dynamic that forces you to switch up your strategy if you want to emerge victorious. Once you experiment with your party setup and form a winning strategy for a super-tough battle, the sense of accomplishment is unmatched.
Unfortunately, the 3D visuals don't look much better than a PS1-era game with blocky character models that sometimes have herky-jerky animations and battle maps that seem to be floating in an abyss. That being said, the character artwork is beautiful and it makes the dialogue scenes and comic book story sequences even more intriguing to watch play out. Thankfully, there is English voice acting which provides further depth to the presentation as each actor portrays their respective character fantastically. To match the excellent voice work, a lovely orchestral soundtrack helps set the mood for every onscreen event.
Although God Wars Future Past will be an incredibly nostalgic and enjoyable game for those who grew up playing strategy RPGs on PS1, modern gamers who are used to the more immediately gratifying genre formula nowadays may feel perplexed as to how this could be enjoyable. This is mostly due to the amount of patience required on the player's behalf in order to allow the gameplay to click in all of its subtle complexities. For example, setting up your party requires a lot of time and effort. You not only have to equip the best stuff, you also have to spend job points to master new abilities, equip a few passive skills, upgrade shrines, and switch up characters' jobs. It can be a chore if you're not up for spending 15 minutes or so preparing for the next battle. The battles themselves can take a long time, too, with characters that can only move a handful of spaces at a time. It's definitely an acquired taste.
Finally, one aspect of God Wars Future Past will be frustrating for long-time genre fans and newcomers alike. Basically, whenever you change jobs for a character, they will be unable to use the abilities that they learned for their previous job. On the plus side, each character can have two jobs equipped simultaneously but that still means that you'll have to grind as that character in order to learn a capable set of abilities upon switching jobs. To illustrate this, imagine you have a magic user whose main job incorporates attack magic and other job is a healer. If you want to change her main job to a more powerful kind of attack magic then she can still retain all of her healing spells but then be quite weak when it comes to taking out enemies until she levels up a lot and starts to master the new job. This setup ends up feeling counterproductive and will make you wish you could utilize every job's abilities at any time.
God Wars Future Past is an impressive throwback to possibly the best era for turn-based strategy RPGs. Long-time fans of the genre will love every second they spend fighting off dastardly beasts while modern gamers may wonder how this kind of game could be fun.
- + Great story and likeable characters
- + Classic PS1-era SRPG gameplay that's challenging, rewarding, and nostalgic
- + Spot-on music, voice acting, and art
- - 3D visuals are quite dated
- - Modern gamers may be put off by the old-school approach as it requires patience
- - Changing jobs feels counterproductive