God Eater Resurrection PS4 Review
There’s no denying that the Monster Hunter series introduced an innovative new genre for videogames, foregoing the fast-paced fodder-destroying blueprint of most action games and introducing a more methodical approach, where preparation and precision was the key to taking out massive boss-type enemies with unique patterns and weaknesses. Combined with multiplayer and loot-based rewards, both features that were ahead of its time on console, Monster Hunter’s bold new take on the action genre resulted in a breakout hit in Japan and cult status in the West.
While the series’ slower pacing and pattern-based battles aren’t for everyone, there is a valid criticism about how Monster Hunter has taken too long to evolve many of its antiquated mechanics. While each new game does offer a few new quality of life improvements here and there, they are often too far and few between to offer any meaningful changes to the formula. Thus it has fallen upon third party imitators looking to cash in on the monster-slaying craze and offer their own alternatives in the hopes of nabbing fans who want a break from hunting Rathalos for the umpteenth time.
One notable copycat is God Eater, which started out as a PSP title and has since branched out into a Vita sequel that is also releasing on the PS4, not to mention a recent anime adaptation. Before making a proper console debut, PS4 owners get to experience the series from the beginning with God Eater Resurrection, an expanded console re-release of the original portable title (which in itself had received an enhanced version called God Eater Burst). This re-release includes all of the additions of Burst as well as new weapons that were originally exclusive to the sequel, not to mention enhanced visuals and story content to make it the most complete package of Bandai Namco’s edgier and more anime-driven answer to Capcom’s long-running franchise.
Whereas Monster Hunter typically takes place in a bright and optimistic fantasy setting, God Eater goes for a bleaker post-apocalyptic setting following the destruction of modern society. Bio-engineered monsters known as Aragami roam the desolate streets and hunting down the last remnants of humanity, and it is up to the titular God Eaters to reverse the roles and hunt the creatures to extinction. The story follows a more JRPG-inspired path than Monster Hunter, with lengthy cutscenes featuring anime trope characters such as the energetic rookie, the soft-spoken loner, and ridiculously endowed women wearing even more ridiculous outfits. Despite the bleak concept of God Eater, much of the story is presented with an uneven tone, including some of the most bizarrely inappropriate musical cues during cutscenes. The story’s attempts at drama are also executed in such a sporadic and absurd way that one has to wonder if it was intentionally meant to be a parody (such as the introduction and immediate death of a named character during one cutscene).
Like most Monster Hunter-type games, players create a custom character and can outfit them with different weapons (called God Arcs) that all control differently with various strengths and weaknesses: lighter weapons like the blade and knife offer quick attacks but deal little damage, while massive weapons like claymores and hammers deal massive damage at the expense of slower swings. Players will need to get accustomed to how each weapon handles, while also picking out the most ideal loadout depending on the target (both the mission briefing and NPCs offer hints on what works best for each Aragami). In addition to melee weapons, players also go into each mission wielding a firearm and shield, with firearms offering long-range attacks at the expense of Oracle Points (OP). OP primarily acts as ammunition for guns, and can be refilled either with items or, more ideally, using the Predator form of the God Arc to devour part of the Aragami (devouring also yields Aragami parts which can later be used for crafting).
Missions tend to follow the same format: find the targeted Aragami and kill it. The missions are selectable in front of the player character’s headquarters, which thankfully confines all the necessary resources to one screen; there’s the shopkeeper that sells additional items, there’s the terminal to customize equipment and upgrade weapons, and there are also bonus missions that can be unlocked after progressing through the story. The player character also has AI allies to call upon, and who have their own skills that can be unlocked with points. Said skills can offer additional bonuses in battle, such as extra damage, faster healing and so on, while also providing post-mission rewards including extra materials and experience points. There are a lot of options to tinker with in God Eater Resurrection, but it is thankfully streamlined enough that it won’t take too much time away from Aragami hunting.
Another aspect improved from Monster Hunter is how mission zones are all linked under one area, rather than having to load into a different part of the map in order to find the target. The zones themselves do little to differentiate the layouts or even the environments; the character models and textures received a nice sprucing up while moving to PS4, but it is still easy to tell that this was originally a portable game, especially with the zoomed-in camera and overly large HUD elements. This is especially apparent with the control scheme, which relies heavily on button combinations and having to cycle between various sub-menus in order to perform various actions, from using recovery items to issuing orders to teammates (both AI and online). The PS4 controller’s touchpad, which could ideally be used for all sorts of convenient shortcuts, is instead reduced to opening up the item screen, a feature that is already mapped to an existing button. Even the d-pad is wasted by acting as the camera, a trade-off that many PSP games had to do, but is a complete waste when the right analog stick does the same.
As much as God Eater tries to modernize some of the antiquated mechanics of Monster Hunter, it too falls victim to some cumbersome control quirks; targets can be locked-on to get a better view, but the lock-on immediately turns off when bouncing between melee weapons and firearms, since the latter doesn’t have a lock-on feature. Firearms do have an over-the-shoulder option for more precise targeting, but shooting is mapped to the square button, rather than one of the shoulder triggers. Small details like these add up to a game that feels much more antiquated than it should, and not all of it could be justified as intentional. The tougher Aragami enemies behave similar to Monster Hunter’s most infamous bosses, having specific animation patterns that give away their various attacks as well as having specific body parts that act as weak points. The flow of combat works well enough, and there’s always the satisfaction of bringing down a tough enemy after an extended battle, but it still would have been nice if the game streamlined the control scheme to better suit the more action-packed aesthetic it’s touting over its predecessor.
If there was one word that could accurately define God Eater Resurrection, it would be “uneven”. The concept and the combat both give it a unique identity over Monster Hunter, and could lend itself to great things that help make it stand out. But the amateurish story direction and outdated control schemes hinder its chances to emerge from the shadow of Capcom’s multimillion dollar franchise.