The hunting genre, made very popular in Japan by Capcom’s Monster Hunter, has had plenty of screen time on the PlayStation Vita. We know the formula quite well by now: create a character and team up with friends to defeat enemies the size of buildings. The latest title in the genre is finally available in North America. Rather than a sequel or otherwise totally new entry, it turns out that God Eater Resurrection is an enhanced remake of the PSP exclusive God Eater Burst, which first launched six long years ago.
In God Eater, mankind is plagued by Aragami, the building sized monsters I mentioned before. I suppose most aren’t quite that big though. These fiends are actually remnants of gods, animated by aggressive and highly sophisticated organisms called oracle cells. To combat this foe, humans developed the God Arcs: remnants of Aragami that only operate if they bond with a compatible human. The player takes control of a “new type” of human that bonds exceedingly well with the living weapons.
The story that unfolds is one that pertains to the fate of the world. The world and narrative in this game are relatively dark and intriguing. The story is slow moving, distributed in tiny chunks between dozens of story missions. It is interesting in some spots, not helped by unconvincing English character voicing and an apparent lack of dual audio. Ultimately though, it seems to culminate in a mildly entertaining excuse to string together countless similar missions.
Depth might be the component that helps God Eater Resurrection stand out from the crowd. There are numerous customization systems you must consider when getting ready for a hunt. The huge enemies all possess certain strengths and weaknesses. Your character gets a melee weapon and a projectile, in addition to various kinds of items and special attacks to take into battle. You must consider the physical and elemental weaknesses of enemies to conduct effective battles. You will also quickly get in the habit of stocking up on items before each and every hunt, as heading out poorly prepared is usually followed by the sting of defeat.
There are various kinds of elemental bullets and guns, and different categories of physical attacks. This encourages you to proactively create and rotate weapons rather than cling to one set that you really like. When enemies have thousands of health points and your attacks can mete out damage as low as the single digits, you want to capitalize on any bonus damage you can get. Enemies themselves are quite varied. Some are heavily armored and can only be damaged in certain spots.
You can choose between different weapons like the short blades and scythes and your combos change depending on what you equip. At first combat is very basic and you just mash a light or heavy attack to create simple combos. You’ll later be able to customize a special attack and add effects to the attacks. Game-play can feel rather sluggish with one of the larger weapons but is fast and exciting with the short blade.
The guns also vary wildly in functionality. There’s some amount of room for you to choose a specific play style that suits you or to switch between them (which is recommended), particularly when you find a certain weapon more or less effective against a certain enemy. Unfortunately, if you’re playing alone, then utilizing the different tactics to deal increased damage to enemies doesn’t quite pay off as well as you might have hoped.
In single player, you are grouped with various AI controlled allies. Fans of this genre can probably guess what I’m about to say next: despite their best efforts, the AI allies simply aren’t terribly useful in battle, especially compared to human players. They will heal you if you’re knocked out and will use the ally bullets on you, drop traps here and there, and otherwise put effort into taking the enemy out, but overall they contribute so little.
You’ll see them stupidly standing very far from the boss shooting petty lasers or running and jumping around. Occasionally they’ll whip out their blades and run up, slash a few times and then keep running around. To make matters worse, many of the enemies move and run around a great deal, making it extremely time consuming to defeat them alone. I remember spending ten minutes in one mission chasing an enemy to and fro as it spun and jumped away from me every time I came near it. It wasn’t all that fun.
Many times I felt like the AI was just there to lend the feeling that I was part of team for story reasons and not actually to help me defeat the enemy. What drove this home was the bit of time I spent playing the game online. I don’t know if the game supports cross-play, but at the time of this writing there are extremely few people hosting games online on the PS Vita version, which is disheartening given that the title is barely two weeks old.
Yet when I was finally able to join a game, I was able to see the potential and synergy of a team of actual players. Other players attack the enemies weak spots, spam traps and healing items, make better use of guns and so on. It just works so much better and more fluidly when everyone is focused. It is way more fun than playing offline. It’s unfortunate that there isn’t much activity online currently, but it could very well improve as the game is still new. If you have a circle of Vita owning friends though, there is quite a bit of fun to be had here.
After missions you earn credits and materials you can use to create and enhance all sorts of equipment. I didn’t like that certain upgrades required components that I couldn’t find. An in-game glossary keeps track of which items can be found in which maps (in addition to tons more info and lore) but some items I could not find despite clearing all standard missions and with no direction from the game it slowed progression.
However, my biggest complaint about God Eater Resurrection is the tremendously repetitive mission structure. The only reason to takes breaks in between story missions is to grind through extremely similar missions with different enemies and maps in side missions. You can customize your characters and some of the pieces unlocked later in the game can cost quite a bit.
In the story, it starts out fun as you come to terms with all the mechanics and action, but it loses momentum quickly when you’re shoved into repetitive missions that you’ll most likely have to soldier through with AI allies for a one minute or so scene with a cast of cute if flat characters. Of course, great integration of online into the story mode makes this only a problem when playing offline.
If you get a party together, you can blast through the missions very quickly and view the story scenes in an in-game gallery later. I presume that this would let one get to the meatier endgame with better weapons and stronger enemies much faster, but I can’t say for sure since my online time was so limited.
God Eater Resurrection is a fun action RPG with a dark atmosphere and story. You’ll also find very deep customization options, fast combat, and a wonderful multiplayer experience. The characters are likable, even if held back by the omission of the original voices. There’s a lot to discover and complete in the game; completing the story mode alone will take upwards of 40 hours and there are scores of additional missions. However, without playmates the game loses a lot of flair and devolves into a harshly repetitive and far less effective romp with one guy, a huge enemy with tons of health and a few sidekicks to revive you if you get knocked out. There is still fun to be had alone, simply not nearly as much.