Godseekers may seem like a change in focus for the traditionally action-heavy Warriors franchise, but this isn’t the first time Koei has dabbled in turn-based strategy. From Kessen and Romance of the Three Kingdoms to the aptly titled Dynasty Tactics, this is hardly new territory for the Japanese publisher.
Koei also has a knack for spinning out its big franchises, dissecting and piecing them back together to make entirely new games, as any Warriors fan who has ever bought an Xtreme Legends or Empires title will know all too well. However, with Godseekers, the publisher is going for something far less conventional.
This is a strictly turn-based affair, akin to Fire Emblem and XCOM. Each encounter will have you leading troops and generals across the battlefield, engaging enemies and chasing objectives. Gradually, you’ll begin forging a path through ancient China, rallying a shed load of characters along the way.
A series of main missions will have you visit familiar locales and conflicts in the Dynasty Warriors timeline, including the Yellow Turban Rebellion and Battle of Hulao Gate. That said, Godseekers attempts to throw in some added mysticism and character depth. Instead of bouncing between officers, you’ll stick with series posterboy Zhao Yun and his close friend, Lei Bin. During the game’s prologue they stumble upon Lixia, a demigoddess of sorts who they free from a giant crystal. Sadly, in addition to clashing with the game’s aesthetic, she isn’t all that interesting and is used more as a limp plot device to justify Zhao Yun’s ability to command units.
The turn-based battles aren’t particularly enthralling either. It’s all very by-the-numbers stuff as you trot from tile to tile, picking off enemies and moving towards a final boss or endzone. What depth there is stems from the slightly altered attack patterns of different characters and the supercharged “Synchro” attacks. As you brute force your way across the battlefield a guage will slowly fill, eventually triggering a state which allows several adjacent officers a free action. When you finish leapfrogging between them, they unleash a devastating final attack that can knock a fair few enemies off the board.
Like traditional Warriors games, Godseekers becomes more exhausting and joyless as battles grow bigger. It can get pretty tough too, especially if you put off upgrading your characters and their equipment. However, in order to reach the recommended level for most story missions, you’ll have to go back and grind your way through some of the side ops. It’s a slog to say the least and a lazy, artificial way of extending the game’s lifespan.
Recycling assets used in Dynasty Warriors 8, Godseekers is a decent looking game, if a little lacking in variety. Omega Force has also done a good job in attempting to convey tactical information and stats without clogging the screen with text. On PlayStation Vita, the performance takes a slight hit with the occasional stutter, though it’s nothing too serious. While it’s great to see Koei Tecmo still supporting the Sony handheld, the absence of touch controls when moving and attacking seems like an oversight.
Omega Force has decided to experiment here, though it’s an experiment that fails to live up to its full potential. Having sampled some of the genre’s top flight titles, Godseekers’ brand of turn-based strategy feels shallow by comparison. Still, there’s enough here for ardent fans of the franchise to wring some enjoyment out of. For something that feels truly new and innovative, all eyes now turn to Dynasty Warriors 9…
Version Tested: PlayStation Vita