God Wars: Future Past review for PS Vita, PS4

Platform: PS Vita
Also On: PS4
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Kadokawa Games
Medium: Digital/Disc/Cartridge
Players: 1
Online: No

A few years ago, Kadokawa Games came out with Natural Doctrine, a tactical RPG that, to be blunt, kind of sucked. Rather than abandoning the genre entirely, though, they apparently decided to try their collective hands at it one more time — and the end result, God Wars: Future Past, suggests that they learned from their failure the first time around.

By this, I mean that the flaws that plagued Natural Doctrine are completely resolved here. That game was plagued by endless expository dialogue and lengthy explanations. God Wars still has a lot of talking, but it doesn’t feel like a lot because of how it’s presented: in shorter, easier-to-digest chapters, so that you’re not spending seemingly endless amounts of time pressing X to move on to the next screen. I’m sure that if you added it all up, God Wars would still have a lot of dialogue, but by keeping conversations on topic, to the point, and confined to chapters, you never start wondering when a scene will finally end.

It also helps that God Wars mixes things up in its presentation. While a lot of the character interaction is conveyed in the typical JRPG way — different characters slide on and off screen as they take turns talking — the game also isn’t afraid to throw in some nice animated cutscenes. They’re used minimally, but again, the simple fact they’re there helps break up the action in an enjoyable way.

The other thing Kadokawa apparently learned from Natural Doctrine is that there’s no point in making a game too hard. Consequently, while God Wars certainly gives players a challenge, it’s never impossible in the same way that its sort-of predecessor was. As with any tactical RPG worth its salt, God Wars definitely forces you to think strategically and grind your way through battles, but it never seems like it’s actively out to frustrate and annoy players.

In this respect, the game owes more to shining lights of the genre — which is to say, it’s more Tactics Ogre or Final Fantasy Tactics than Natural Doctrine. That may mean that it seems more like an anachronism from 10, 15, or even 20 years ago than like a game that’s rooted in the present day, but seeing as there aren’t a whole lot of other games like this coming out now (and, as Natural Doctrine shows, those that are coming out are nothing to write home about), it makes it easy to say that God Wars: Future Past is worth checking out if you’ve got an itch for tactical RPGs.

Grade: B+