When you hear the name Dynasty Warriors, you probably immediately think of battles involving thousands of soldiers against a one-man army of sort, with plenty of button-mashing in between. For years, Koei Tecmo has said the franchise is about strategy as well as action, but that hasn’t normally been the case. Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers looks to change that, by taking elements from the popular series and merging them with a more strategic, tactical approach.
Like most strategy RPGs, Godseekers takes place on a top-down perspective, although you can change the camera angle if you’d rather pretend you’re playing one of the “normal” entries in the series. It plays just like any basic strategy game: you have close-range and long-range units, maneuver around the battlefield to get the best attack opportunities, and choose to either attack (with multiple attack types) or defend. You can upgrade your weapons, outfit your “officers” with either recovery items or additional buffs, and so on. Your enemy moves its units, then you move yours, and so on. Occasionally your allies will become so synchronized with each other that you’ll be able to pull off a “synchro” attack, where two officers can lay waste to a whole group of enemies at a time. Each round also keeps track of each side’s morale. The higher your side is, the more damage you can do. While the system is simplistic, there’s enough room for everyone to come up with their own unique strategy, and it can be fun at times.
In addition to playing through the story – more on that in the next paragraph – you can revisit prior locations for new rewards or to level up, plus visit a “training room” to hone your skills. You’ll need to go back and grind often if you want to keep up with the “recommended level” the game lists for later levels, even as early as chapter 2. The combat isn’t as fast paced as the more traditional entries in the franchise, and while that’s perfectly fine for a strategy game, some battles do seem to drag on for what seems like longer than they should, although there is an option to speed things up when it’s your enemy’s turn.
As for the story, although the game’s website promises “the untold truth behind the Romance of the Three Kingdoms Saga,” there’s not much to tell, which isn’t necessarily different from any other game in the franchise. An ordinary soldier and his science-obsessed, monocle wearing friend free a magical pink-haired woman from a block of ice/magic seal/crystal thing. They battle across China to repel a rebellion and take down enemy generals. It’s some fairly basic fantasy ancient warfare stuff, and in a normal Dynasty Warriors game it’d be fine, but strategy RPGs like Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy Tactics are known for having engrossing and engaging storylines, while Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers struggles to make that early connection with the player. The voices usually fit their characters, which includes a “who’s who” of Dynasty Warriors favorites, but in those occasions where things don’t quite line up, it’s noticeable enough where you may just skip the cutscenes entirely.
There is some room for customization, with items being dropped after each battle that can be forged, upgraded, or just sold outright to a merchant that’s reachable through the world map’s menu options. The process of forging or upgrading is simplistic: pick a weapon, then either merge it with another weapon to get certain bonuses or just pay money to make the weapon stronger without any improvements to buffs. As for your characters, they level up on their own during combat at a basic level, but also have a “skill board” that looks a lot like a Chinese Checkers board, where you assign points earned through battle to increase your stats or give your attacks an extra punch. Some benefits even allow you to steal items from your enemies, which can prove useful if they’re hoarding something to heal themselves with.
For those new to strategy RPGs, Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers provides a helpful “guidance” menu that retreads walkthroughs you encountered at the beginning of the game, as well as hints on keeping your officers prepared for battle, how to prepare for battle, and plenty of help understanding the mechanics of the game as a whole.
As far as visuals and sounds, Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers almost displays a split personality. The battles themselves feature maps that for the most part feel generic with a few changes to the environment, and the top-down camera does little to hide the lack of detail on enemy units. Your officers are detailed enough, with plenty of little bits and quirks to make each one unique and identifiable, and you get a much better look at them when performing a special attack, but overall the art direction feels somewhat mediocre. Where the game shines visually is the cutscenes, which are gorgeous. From a sound perspective the music is beautiful, while the sound effects in battle are adequate, if not anything earth-shaking. The game is available on both the PS4 and PS Vita, but there shouldn’t be too much of a difference in the experience a person has with each version, if at all. The Vita should easily be able to handle the visuals we encountered playing the PS4 version.
The Verdict on Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers
There’s not much that Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers gets wrong, but what it does get right is basically what any other strategy RPG is expected to get right. It’s simply one of a number of similar games in a somewhat crowded genre, with nothing to really help it stand out other than its license. Putting that aside, Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers may not be what you expect from Dynasty Warriors, but it’s a competent strategy RPG that should at least satisfy fans of the franchise. Those new to the series may want to think twice, however.
Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers
- Available On: PS4, PS Vita, PS3
- Published By: Tecmo Koei
- Developed By: Omega Force
- Genre: RPG
- US Release Date: January 31st, 2017
- Reviewed On: PlayStation 4
- Quote: "Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers may not be what you expect from Dynasty Warriors, but it's a competent strategy RPG that should at least satisfy fans of the franchise."