Having sunk a little over 1,000 hours into all three Dark Souls games, (No, seriously, over 1,000, making it the longest I’ve played anything since Diablo II) I decided to trade them in at the game shop, and it turns out Horizon Zero Dawn still isn’t available for trade. On a whim I got God Eater Rage Burst 2 because I’d recently seen it praised on a gaming site. The game came with a lovely thank you letter from the director, a classy move somewhat similar to The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. BUT, this letter also included an invitation to download a remastered version of the first game and play it to get introduced to the world and characters. That’s double classy. As an added bonus, this is a cross-play AND a cross-save game, meaning the same save file can be shared between my PS4 and my Vita, which doesn’t get nearly enough love these days. (I don’t mention it anywhere in this review, but the PS Vita version plays just as superbly as the PS4 version. No shock, as this was made for the PSP, the other Sony portable that Sony gave up on. Le sigh, and I digress.)
So what could possibly go wrong? Well, there are some missteps here and there, and I’ll tell you now, this is not a game for the casual crowd. It starts off tough and only gets harder through its three story arcs, for reasons that I will explain a bit later. I’ll get to the problems in due time as well, but first, let me cover the story, the controls, and the various game elements. I should mention that while I’ve beaten all the story and free missions up to Difficulty level 13, there’s still a crap ton of extra missions and challenges available after the story is done. I’ve put in 162 hours, and this is for a free game to get me into the next game. Hot damn, that’s a lot of game, y’all.
Starting off, this is a very anime game. The characters are supposedly an elite military corp dedicated to saving the world from monsters, and yet their uniforms are pretty skimpy in the fabric department. Cry sexism if you like, but several of the dudes are showing off as much skin as the women, so to me it’s an absurd form of equality. Or something. Later on, I was able to unlock an outfit that actually looked like something a military officer might wear and used that most of the time. But I was playing a girl with blue hair and black cat ears, and one of my male companions wears a vest and shorts even in missions with ankle deep snow. There’s also a costume to unlock that will let you cosplay as a pink teddy bear with a giant frickin’ sword. This is not a game that’s taking itself too seriously, is what I’m saying.
The story goes like this: the world has been overrun by Aragami, monsters who all are made up of oracle cells. These cells consume just about anything and then mutate collectively to form bodies best suited to their environment. Aragami also supposedly consume each other (I’ll explain the supposedly later) and as a result, larger and more powerful forms keep appearing. The human cities were devastated in a very short amount of time, and the population plummeted as most people were eaten in only a few short months. To combat the Aragami, the governments collectively developed a special weapon made of oracle cells. These living weapons, called God Arcs, feed on Aragmi, hence the term God Eater, and also hence the army’s choice of name, Fenrir.
Still with me? Okay, initially, God Eater weapons only came in melee forms, but later models were crafted into guns. Each weapon has a bias, and as such, it needs to be bonded with a host that resonates with it. Enter your character, a “New Type” whose God Eater holds both a melee form and a gun, allowing you to switch on the fly whenever you need to. Your character starts off as a rookie at the Fenrir Far East Branch in Japan, but quickly ascends the ranks thanks to their skill in battle and soon leads a team of both old type and new type God Eaters.
And that’s the basic premise sans spoilers. As I said, the story is very anime, and having seen enough anime in my time, I was able to see a few twists coming. (One twist I called right away because a certain character’s voice was always just on the verge of an evil muah ha ha, and so it wasn’t a shock when he turned out to be a bad guy.) But there were also lots of surprises in the three “episodes,” even a couple that were foreshadowed and I still missed the clues until they were laid out again in flashbacks.
The gameplay is pretty simple on the surface. You choose a mission from the coordinator Hibari, and then you get sent to a location to fight monsters. You collect loot and use the loot to make stronger gear, and then you go out and kill bigger monsters. There’s a time limit for each fight, and while y’all know I normally hate playing with a time limit, most missions give 30 or 40 minutes to complete them. With relatively few exceptions, I was able to clear missions in half that time or even less, and once I had better gear, I was even clearing high level missions in under three minutes. So the timer here is cool with me because it’s pretty generous, in my opinion. (By the by, those few exceptions were down to the final seconds, and winning had me groaning “OH THANK GOD!”)
When I first got started, one thing that tickled me was how my character and the other fighters often said something that I would say while playing. Early on, I burst out with loud laughter because my character said, “We’re gonna go in there, and we’ll be all ‘watchaaa,’ and they’ll be all ‘run away!'” I lost count of the number of times I asked “Will you die already?” only to have a character ask the same question moments later. I pulled off a sweet sniper shot that put down a monster, and my character shouted, “Oh-hoo, noice!” There are countless other examples, but you get the point. The banter is just the right tone that I was constantly laughing either because it was something I might say, or it was something I just said.
That said, the banter can sometimes be a bit tone deaf with regards to the story. People die, and the crew you fight with never stop cracking jokes. So yeah, that’s the first of a few missteps, although this one is the most minor. As I said already, this game isn’t taking itself seriously.
The controls are carried over from the PSP, so the shoulder buttons are used, but not the triggers. Light and heavy attacks are on the triangle and square buttons, the circle is used for a dodging step move, while jumping is handled with the X button. There’s a couple of tricky moves using the right shoulder button and the triangle and circle buttons. These perform a devour move and bring up the weapon’s shield, although later on it is possible to automate the block in a couple of ways. Even after the full length of my play time, I still fumbled these moves a number of times, either by pressing the wrong button or not hitting both at the same time. In the thick of a fight, that usually resulted in my character’s face meeting an Aragami limb in a most unfortuitous manner. But I fully acknowledge that the fault there lies with me and my horrid affliction, wrong button syndrome. (It is quite tragic, but I persevere in the face of this crippling affliction. I am a brave, brave woman.)
Devouring works two ways. While a monster is alive, devours will put your character in burst mode, and they will do extra damage. With certain upgrades, burst mode will also recover health points and oracle power. Additionally, each enemy you devour will grant your gun a special type of ammo related to that monster. So for instance devouring a fire monster will give you fire balls. (See a doctor if that condition lasts for more than four hours.) After a monster is dead, using devour will leech materials from their body that can be used to upgrade your melee weapon, gun, and shield, or to craft new varieties of weapons and other stuff. The crafting system is hard to explain, and I had to go to the wiki to sort it all out, but once I had the hang of it, I was crafting stuff almost every other mission.
The right and left sticks work as you’d expect. Left moves the character, and right moves the camera. The PS4 and Vita versions vary on how to access consumable items like health pills and grenades, in that the PS4 controller uses the touch pad to pull up the menu at the bottom of the screen while the Vita uses the select button. With the Vita, it’s not quite as comfy to do, but I never had any problems getting to my items when I needed them. With the item menu open, the shoulder buttons let you scroll through your items, and the square button uses the currently selected item. In addition to the aforementioned health pills and grenades, there are also traps to hold monsters in place for a few precious seconds, a healing item to share with all the teammates, and an ampule to recover “oracle power” faster. (Oracle power is what the guns use to fire, and while it can be recovered using melee attacks, someone specializing in gunner roles will often find they need a little help getting back into the fight quickly.)
Now, here’s a caveat that may turn you off of the game: there’s a very limited number of locations to fight in, and only a slightly larger pool of Aragami. Later levels introduce larger monsters, but quite a few of these are just reskinned variants with a different elemental attack and a different elemental weakness. So if you need a lot of variety, this game is going to get dull fast.
Personally, I didn’t find it dull because of the sheer variety of weapon types that I could use for any given mission, and the longer I played, the more toys I unlocked. There’s short blades, which are fast and make up for their lack of oomph with the ability to get in several extra swings before gracefully dodging away from an angry counter-attack. There’s long swords that do great damage and look real purdy to boot. There are buster swords, absolutely massive blades that require a hell of long time to draw back and swing, but reward each connecting hit with a crap ton of damage. There are huh-yuge ass hammers that are just as slow as the busters, but will smash through Aragami and break body parts with just a few swings.
Ah, right, allow me to explain that mechanic. All Aragami have armored bodies, but some body parts are weak and can be broken. Once a part is broken, any attack directed at that limb will do extra damage. The game isn’t always clear on what to hit, but with enough practice, it becomes second nature to aim for the best targets and wail on them until the monster goes splat. Even more tricky is understanding what types of damage work best on certain parts. Some might be broken faster by shooting them, but on a couple of the bigger monsters, the only way to break their limbs is with a super massive hammer. It sounds complicated, but it really just comes down to practice to make sense of it all.
One thing that annoyed me slightly is that a late game monster had breakable parts that removed their offensive capabilities, and after beating that boss, I wondered why it didn’t work the same on all the Aragami. Like, if I break a scorpion monster’s tail, shouldn’t that at least mean the tail attack does less damage? Buh, I dunno. It just feels to me like that mechanic could have been used on all the monsters, thus rewarding you for targeting the most dangerous bits first. Anyway, let’s move on.
The monotony of fighting the same monsters over and over in the same locations is also helped by the fact that most of the monsters are real nice to look at. The early Aragami may not be very colorful, but the variants begin taking on the colors of their attack element, so you get monsters in color combinations that will make you go “Oooh, soooo pretty!” (Well, that’s what I did on many occasions, and one of the companion characters opined of a giant tiger-like Aragami “I know this isn’t a popular theory, but I think it’s kind of cute. I mean, it’s (sic) furry tail and trying to murder us…”) There were a few monsters so pretty, I called hubby over to look at them, and he agreed, they are real damn pretty.
Now, remember when I said Aragami are supposedly eating each other? That’s shown in the opening cut scene and is a key part of a late game plot point, but in the field, Aragami never eat or even attack each other. Regardless of what types you face for any mission, they will all clusterfuck up around you and your crew, and until you get a feel for moving out of trouble, these moments of monster collaboration will quite often lead to a lost mission. Somewhere around Difficulty 6, the combinations of monsters may also include Aragami of opposing elemental weaknesses, meaning you either go in with a weapon sans elemental attacks, or you just accept that one of the monsters will be a harder slog than the other. (Well, much later on you can get weapons with dual elements, but even then some missions will drop in a third monster that the dual element weapons can’t cover.)
As seems par for the course with Japanese games, the camera can sometimes become an ally to the Aragami rather than to you. I’ve many times gone into rifle mode to aim at a monster rushing toward me, only to get a loverly view of the tree or grass behind my character. Tight hallways offer a similar problem in that I can’t see where to move or swing my weapon because I’m looking at the other side of the wall, and I end up spinning the camera uselessly in a vain attempt to see which way is safe to run.
I should also mention that there’s a HUGE problem with the companion AI. If there’s just one monster to deal with, they’re mostly decent, with a couple of exceptional morons who have a tendency to shoot their comrades in the back every 45 seconds or so. But even adding in one extra monster makes your whole crew spaz out and go all derpy. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to kill two or three monsters on my own because my companions were just running in circles, seemingly unable to sort out what to attack.
As to the exceptions, that would be Kota and Kanon. If I had my choice, I would NEVER take these morons into the field with me, and I’m not being mean when I say that. Kota is an idiot who sleeps through training courses during the cut scenes, and in battle, he will fire wildly and miss more often than he hits any monster. He will drop traps that are nowhere near a monster, and he will shoot your character in the back and stagger them, setting you up to be pummeled almost every single time. As for Kanon, after I babysat her through a mission and had her shoot me about 40 times, she declared, “I’ve learned something today! I learned I don’t miss my targets if I don’t shut my ears in fear!” Oy fucking vey, lady.
And here’s the kicker: in free missions, you can take whoever you like into battle, and almost any other God Eater is fantastic at their roles. But the story mode quite often forces you to go into battle with at least one of these morons, and every time I saw I had to take Kota or Kanon, I groaned loudly. I just knew the next mission would involve a whole other level of fuckery because my companion has decided to be an ally to the monsters instead.
After Difficulty 8, I had a mostly easy time of things because I’d built up a big collection of weapons and a memory of what weapons worked best on which beasties. Then the game decided to drop me into a confined space just slightly larger than a walk-in closet with a fucking dragon. I think I put in about four hours into this one fight alone, but coming out on the other side of it, I suddenly found that even the hardest monsters were that much easier to dodge. So in hindsight, I hate that mission, but I’m glad it exists because it helped me git gud.
From there, it was mostly smooth sailing to the end of the story. I’d do all the free missions at each difficulty level before moving up to the next level, and I’d struggle through the story missions that gave me morons. Everything was going mostly honky dory until the second to last story mission against a beast called a Blitz Hannibal, a dragon that moves three times faster than anything else in the game. I got wrecked by this bastard for literally two days before I backed off to grind for gear.
Oh, right, the grinding. Oh come on, it’s a Japanese game, so you know there has to be constant grinding. But there is a difference to this game’s version of the grind. You see, you don’t level up your character. Instead, you grind to get components to upgrade your gear. So you don’t get more health points by leveling up. You equip items that give you more health…to a point. See, you only have 100 health points without upgrades. So you put on a couple upgrades and you get 150. You put on a couple more and you get…150. That’s the upper limit, and as you get closer to the end game, it’s entirely possible to be dropped in one hit. You have Endurance, so once you drop, you can be revived by companions through a link aid. But there’s another catch. Link aid takes half of the companion’s health and applies it to you. So if they had 10 health points when they revived you, you stand up with 5. And unless you use up a ton of health pills IMMEDIATELY, you will get one-shotted right back to the ground again. Good times.
But so, yeah, the grind. You have to grind to get materials to craft and upgrade weapons, and sometimes a material is rare, so you have to keep doing the same mission over and over until it drops. Then there’s grinding for Personal Abilities. Each companion has four slots that you can add abilities to, and those abilities use a currency called AP. That builds up real slow, and the upgrades get real expensive real fast. So to get your companions into shape to face the later monsters, you have to keep taking them into the same missions over and over again. If it sounds like a chore, that’s because it is, and the only positive to be found in this dull exercise is that afterward, they come out with some nifty talents that will keep them and your character alive longer. Mostly.
So, with that explained, let’s get back to the grind and the dragon moving in fast forward times 3. I upgraded my shield and tried again. No dice. Every time, he put my companions down within 5 minutes of the fight starting, leaving me to solo against him and hang on for dear life to around 15 minutes. Then I had a crazy idea to get a short sword and level that thing as high as it would go, and I fought every dragon over again to make sure that sword could put them down. I did the AP grind to give my companions more endurance and lots of other perks, and I hoped that would keep them upright for longer than five minutes. I got back to that fight and my companions all dropped in the same amount of time despite the upgrades I invested in them. But having the short sword meant that I was moving way faster and could dodge most of his attacks. I put him down with plenty of time to spare, so after all the endless ass kicking I took from him, beating that dragon was DEEPLY satisfying.
So cue the final boss fight, and I beat it on the first try in ten minutes, even as my companions were wasted and left lying in the dirt. Here’s a pro-tip to game developers: if you want to make the last boss challenging, don’t make the second to last boss move at the speed of sound. By comparison, the last boss was a garden slug. Granted, that slug had a number of ranged attacks and razor sharp wings, but I’d seen all of this slug’s moves before on a similar monster in at least twenty other missions, and those winged beasties had friends. This poor monster was alone, so I just kept up a simple pattern of dodge, dodge, dodge, PUNISH. Easy peasy. Well, not really easy, but not that hard compared to the dude who came before.
The final credits rolled and the game dropped me back into the lobby with a new set of missions, a pair of unlocked Predator Packs that hold a dozen or so missions each, and a special challenge pack that looks insane. (defeat 8 monsters in under 30 seconds? Dafuq?) I intend to get to those later, after I’ve played the game I actually paid for, but at this point I’m satisfied to put this one down and issue my review. Which I did, just now, as you’ve seen with your very own two peepers. And given that this is a great game for my Vita, I can see holding onto it when I feel like slaying monsters while I’m on the toilet or taking the train somewhere.
As for my score, I’m giving God Eater Resurrection 4 stars. The camera and companion problems take off a star, but all told, I had a lot of fun with this. I liked the story, the graphics are fantastic, and the music is superb. The voice acting is good, and the writing is a great mix of funny, sad, and shocking. So if you can look past the monotony of the reused locations and forgive the reskinned monsters, and if you can handle a game that gets insanely difficult near the end, I’d highly recommend this to y’all.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to crash. Tomorrow I start my journey into the sequel of this bonkers thrill ride.