Something old, something new, something lackluster, something contrived.
Before Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers I’d never played a Dynasty Warriors game. Today, I’m unsure if that’s a good thing. It might have dramatically swayed my review, given that Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers is quite the deviation from the original button mashing arena-style games that make up the majority of the Dynasty Warriors franchise. This time, however, Koei Tecmo decided to go the route of a grid-turn based strategy game (think Final Fantasy Tactics only heavily watered down) complete with cluttered exposition dumps, sub par instructions, uninteresting dialogue and a whimsical but utterly unrelatable team of protagonists, Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers may have been seeking after goals a bit loftier than this series can attain.
In truth, this game belongs in the original wave of Dynasty Warriors Tactics, but for some reason it didn’t quite make it in. As I stated above, I’ve never played any of the Dynasty Warriors games, so I cannot make a viable comparison as to whether or not this holds up with its predecessors, but what I can tell you is that this title was especially mediocre.
The story goes as follows. One day, Zhao Yun and friend Lin Bei are out on a stroll and discover a stone which just happens to be coveted by the villainous Yellow Turbans; a secondary group of enemies that crop up to fight you whenever the main story falls away for a few chapters. After defeating a small horde of them, Lin Bei cracks open the stone to reveal Lixia (Lee-ja), a woman who by all perceptions appears to be a cross between a human sized fairy and a Pokemon (look at that hair!) but is actually a…god? That’s not really established for the first few hours of the game, which is frustrating because you spend the rest of your time doing her bidding for reasons unspecified.
Cue the plot, or at least a semblance of one. The boys are instructed by Lixia that they must go to Luoyang. Lin Bei agrees, because that is the only place he will be able to research just exactly what Lixia is, because apparently she isn’t going to tell them. Naturally, on the way they encounter armed forces that are interested in taking over Luoyang fighting against the city’s armies. Having to always side with the side of good, the duo join forces with the horribly incompetent Yuan Shao, adding their power and tactical expertise to help win the fight.
If you’re a fan of the previous entries in the series you’ll be happy to know that old favorites show up along the way to join in the fight, but they can often leave just as suddenly, usually right after you’ve spent innumerable funds to get them the best weapons your money can buy and leveling them to peak performance.
With all of that, this isn’t even the most disappointing part of Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers. When it comes to the actual gameplay, the game handles with very little finesse. That’s not to say that Dynasty Warriors is bad, necessarily, but when comparing it to gems of this genre like Final Fantasy Tactics, it’s easy to see where the gaps reside and what was done wrong.
Throughout most of my time playing I was more or less bored to tears. Very little tactical knowledge is needed to progress through even the heavier battles. Simply follow the basics of not allowing yourself to get flanked or allowing your forces to be separated by another opposing force more or less guarantees success for every battle in the game. Pay attention to your SynchroMeter in the upper center of the screen and things get even easier as you and your generals can make quick use of the battlefield with just a few well executed blows. Also, make sure your generals are always armed with the best available weapons.
On that note, always use your money for weapon upgrades. Drops within the game are uselessly under powered, and you’re honestly better off selling the majority of what you earn at the end of battles, using only the best ones to “Reforge” their attributes into what you buy along the way. However, even this won’t boost your beast weapons enough, so make sure to do as many of the side quests as possible to earn enough dough to also “Temper” your weapons. This will make your weapon’s overall attack value much stronger, meaning that your team will be wielding the best items available by the time you join in your next fight.
Levelling is more or less useless as well as you nickel and dime your way toward slightly better percentage stats in the major food groups of warrior building. The only person worth worrying about at all is Lin Bei since he levels slower than the rest given his lower damage output. After a few appropriate selections he’s more or less untouchable on the battlefield, once again eliminating most strategy the game claims it requires for progression.
Dig a little deeper into Dynasty Warriors and you’ll, more sooner than later, come out on the other side. The game tries to tag in more depth with (repeatable) side missions, the Path of Destiny menu which enables even more side quests as well as the opportunity to build stronger bonds with the generals you’re actually mind controlling to fight alongside of you thanks to the powers of Lixia, and some story elements that Koei Tecmo didn’t even bother to have voice acted!
Overall, Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers falls inexplicably short for what it could have been. The game style is lackluster and unimaginative. Battles are linear and without any sort of flair. The game itself doesn’t need to exist, and probably shouldn’t for the full release asking price. Mind you, this game will offer over thirty hours of playtime if you opt to do everything, but with battles sometimes ranging to nearly an hour long on Normal mode simply because they take so long to execute, that time estimation is almost cheating. If you’re looking for something new to play, you won’t be hard pressed to find better places to spend both your time and money for Q1 of 2017.
Final Verdict: 2.5/5
Available on: PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita; Publisher: Koei Tecmo ; Developer: Omega Force; Players: 1 ; Released: January 31, 2017 ; ESRB: T for Teen ; MSRP: $59.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a PlayStation 4 review copy of Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers given to HeyPoorPlayer by the publisher.