Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers Review

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Game Title: Dynasty Warriors Godseekers
Developer: Omega Force, Koei Tecmo
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Game Type: Vita
Download: 1.6 GB
NA Availability: Digital Download
EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: Yes

I only recently became aware that the famed Dynasty Warriors musou series  was actually a spin-off of another Koei series called Romance of the Three Kingdoms.  Unlike Dynasty Warriors, that series was more based on strategy than mindless action, especially early on when the series’ first game debuted in the mid-1980s, almost a decade before I was born.

Strategy isn’t really what you think of when you think of Koei Tecmo’s games in general, either, so the newest Dynasty Warriors title is a pretty big surprise as a Dynasty Warriors game and as a Koei Tecmo game in general.  So, this is a new experience for me with the series in many more ways than just one.

Originally dubbed Dynasty Warriors: Eiketsuden in Japan, here is my review of Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers for PS Vita and PSTV!

Story

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Godseekers takes place during the Han Dynasty and revolves around Zhao Yun along with his companion and newcomer to the DW series, Lei Bin.  As the story begins, the two wander outside their home and come upon a sealed woman named Lixia (also new to the series), and protect her from nearby Yellow Turban soldiers.  Upon being freed, Lixia travels with the two in search of gems for an unknown purpose.

The overall story is taken right out of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, with a focus on the Shu kingdom.  Over the course of the game, you partake in a lot of key battles that are outlined not only in the games but also the actual Romance of the Three Kingdoms historical novel made out Ancient China.  Many things are different as Lixia is a part of things, but it follows a lot of the actual events of history.

The story itself is pretty interesting, and is fresh for me as the last two Warriors games I played on the Vita had no storylines, being “Empires” versions of Dynasty Warriors 8 and Samurai Warriors 4.  So having a story to dive into was nice and fresh.

Gameplay

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Much more like the Eiketsuden and Romance games, Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers is a turn-based Strategy RPG.  Instead of mindlessly slashing your way through battles, you will be moving units on a grid-like map in order to take down other units or follow other mission-specific objectives.  Picture Final Fantasy Tactics meets Dynasty Warriors and you won’t be far off.

Progressing through the game is tied between taking missions from a World Map and managing all of your troops and inventory from said World Map.  As the story progresses, new locations will become available to you and, with them, new story events to keep the plot going.  Between those missions, though, you have much more that you can work on and start doing.

First off is your management of inventory and units.  You can buy and equip weapons and items to each playable character in your arsenal.  This is especially important because lots of weapons have specific effects that are useful for certain battles and units cannot use healing items unless you actually equip them with healing items (like how you can’t use healing items in Atelier unless you equip your alchemist with that item before you head out into the field).  And the further along and more characters you recruit, the more extensive this management will become.

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The other aspect is side-missions.  The majority of possible characters to recruit do not come from Story Missions at all.  Every time you find a new area and clear its story mission, a bunch of side missions pop up that you can go through.  These missions are not only useful for grinding when the difficulty spikes, but are crucial for recruiting all the characters and new units you can, as many characters can only be recruited via side missions.

Now, let’s get to actual combat.  Every mission will be different, but your units will appear on a grid along with enemy units and, most of the time, ally units.  During your turn, each of your units will go as well as any Ally Units that hail from sides of the war that strive for the same goal as you.  Then all of the enemy units will take their turns and the cycle repeats.  It’s pretty simple turn-based gameplay.

Along with each mission having specific targets or objectives to take out or pass, there is a bit of Musou thrown into the game as well.  When you are near an enemy unit and within your attack range, you have various attacks that you can use in combination with one another.  Which attacks you use, where your opponent is facing, and a few other factors will determine how much damage you can do.  For example, you may be able to combo 5 of your first attack but the overall damage might be far less if you did 1 of your 2nd attack and only 2 of your first.

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And as you fight, you will build up 2 gauges: The Musou Gauge and the Synchro Gauge.  When the Musou Gauge is filled for any character, their Ultimate Attack or Musou Attack becomes available.  This has a special animation and is a far stronger attack than any other at their disposal.  And the Synchro Gauge is similar but when it is full and you activate it, all nearby units can enter a queue of combo attacks and you can all launch attacks at once, effectively stopping time for the enemy to not worry about them making any moves at all until your attacks are finished.

Once you take out the specified target, reach the specified location, or fulfill whatever objective the current mission has, you claim victory and all of the experience you built up from fighting off enemies is added up and used to level up your units to increase their stats and prepare them for future missions.

Now, leveling is a key part in missions, because every mission has a recommended level requirement.  If you play on Easy Mode, you can probably get pretty far in the game without having to stop and grind, but anything above that and you’re going to be stopping to grind a lot, be it by doing side-missions, going back to the Training Area, or just doing easy missions over and over again.  Like any SRPG, the game’s difficulty goes up pretty quickly, so that grind is something you should be prepared for.

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But it stays repetitive all the same with that grinding.  The first time I had to grind, I had a mission in Chapter 2 that asked me to be Level 10 and I was only around Level 4 or 5 at the time.  I’d spent more time grinding than I’d spent on the entire story before that.  It’s just something to make note of if you don’t like that much grinding.

As far as length goes, without grinding or side missions, you might be able to complete the game in around 6 or 7 hours, but you’d have to be extremely lucky to be able to accomplish that.  I would put it more around 20-30+ hours with all the side missions, recruiting, and grinding you’ll have to do.  In other words, it will keep you quite busy.

Controls

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Thankfully, touch controls can be disabled and Godseekers is compatible with the PlayStation TV.  So, if you want to play the game on the big screen without double-dipping for the PS4 version, you can.   In fact, there’s even a prompt when you boot the game on the PSTV to automatically optimize the controls for the micro-console.

Controlling the game otherwise is not hard to do.  D-Pad and Analog Stick can be used to move around in the menus.  The L and R triggers don’t really do anything.  Square is used to highlight all of the squares on the battle grid, and Triangle/Circle can be used to look at the stats for a unit that you’re looking at.

It’s pretty simple to do, really.

Presentation

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The graphics I cannot really complain about.  It’s definitely a step up from the last few Warriors games on the Vita.  Each of the zoomed-in cinematic scenes look flashy, and there’s a ton of detail in story scenes.  That’s one part of the game I can’t really say anything bad about.

Now, performance.  Load Times aren’t a problem.  Frame-Rate is far from perfect, though.  If you’re familiar with the recent Dynasty Warriors Vita games having some minor FPS problems, it’s here as well.  A lot of times, you will see some decent lag during battle animations and it’s very noticeable.  Granted, this is a turn-based game so they won’t really mess anything up.  But they are an annoyance.

Summary

Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers is a very different kind of Warriors game that takes from other Koei franchises and pulls them into Dynasty Warriors.  While the grinding is repetitive and frame rate of previous titles is brought here as well, it’s an interesting and fun SRPG for fans of the Dynasty Warriors franchise. 

8/10

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