Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers review

Koei Tecmo has had a virtual monopoly on the “Historical Chinese Era” video games. Between its meticulously deep Romance of the Three Kingdoms strategy games and its button mashing action-fest, Dynasty Warriors series, there isn’t a part of this era in Chinese history that hasn’t been covered. And with its latest release, Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers, Koei Tecmo has decided to bridge the gap between these two storied, but diametrically opposed franchises. The resulting mashup ends up being a diverting turn-based strategy game, with some clever RPG elements that will likely charm fans of both franchises, but not likely win over a new audience.

Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers makes a significant shift in gameplay from the main series, trading in the frenetic real time pace of battling hundreds of nameless troops with a more deliberate turn-based approach of…battling hundreds of nameless troops. Battles play out over a grid like field, similar to Final Fantasy Tactics and Fire Emblem. And tactics are generally simplified to pretty standard rock/paper/scissors-type battles between units and heroes. Battles start out relatively easy (with a robust and easy to use tutorial that walks newcomers through gameplay), but begins to quickly increase in size and scope as the game progresses.

Between battles, items are dropped, which give the game some very fun role playing elements as you upgrade weapons to increase stats. Your officers also get a chance to increase their stats and skills as they progress, giving players a better sense of personalization and creating a stronger attachment to the characters. This is particularly compelling for long time fans of the series, as a number of old favorites return in this game. In addition to your main character, Zhao Yun, pretty much all the major generals from previous games return in some form or another.

The game follows a main storyline of battles, but also includes a number of side quests that allow you to practice and develop new tactics as well as just gain additional XP to make future battles easier. The gameplay itself does an excellent job of ramping up the difficulty gradually, making battles challenging, but never insurmountable. There is a certain delicious glee in figuring out an optimal strategy to beating a particular level. The graphics, and in particular the cutscene animations for some special attacks are well executed with vibrant colors and detail, but they don’t exactly push the envelope of what a PS4 is capable of. That being said, this is a game where the graphics are secondary to the gameplay.

It’s nice to see a publisher like Koei Tecmo decide to broaden the appeal of one of their most venerable brands. And although the game isn’t the most groundbreaking strategy RPG out there, it definitely hits all the right SRPG beats. Layer on a rich backstory of Chinese characters and history (granted with some creative licenses taken), and the resulting game is definitely one worth playing.

Rating: 4/5 atoms

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