(PlayStation Vita Review) God Eater Resurrection

Developer: Shift
Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
Genre: Action / Role-Playing / Crafting
Players: 1-4
ESRB: Teen
Reviewer: Philip Smith

Overall: 7 = Good

God Eater Resurrection is an updated re-release of the 2011 PlayStation Portable-exclusive action role-playing game Gods Eater Burst. In addition to upgraded visuals, this new version adds extra cutscenes, weapons, attacks, and missions. There’s also a new English dub, with a few of the voice actors from the anime joining the gaming cast. For fans of the series, the additions provide a welcomed, rejuvenating jolt to an old favorite. That said, those who aren’t yet sold on the monster-hunting, weapon-craft formula will still find a repetitive—if occasionally intriguing—adventure.

In the near future, the Earth is attacked by ravenous Oracle Cells. Consuming everything in their path, they take the form of monstrous creatures that become known as Aragami. The level of destruction wrought by the invaders sends mankind into a freefall, as the mysterious enemy spreads across the globe, obliterating cities and infrastructure. Defeat seemed all but inevitable until the advent of God Arcs by the Fenrir Organization. Humans capable of wielding the new weaponry became known as God Eaters, an apt name given that the weapons not only morph into traditional armament—melee, gun, and shield—but also into Predators whose giant mouths consume the Aragami. Each bite is a bite towards victory, as the mouthful of what must be a hellacious-tasting concoction of vile goo and undulating meat energizes the soldier and garners an ingredient for the upgrading and construction of gear. In an at-times seemingly endless cycle, players gradually thin the Aragami herd while they and their squad grow stronger, and their equipment more powerful. If they persevere long enough, several story arcs will play out to reveal that not all is as it seems in this dystopian world.

A life of routine awaits a God Eater, or in the case of our protagonist a New Type God Eater (the older being restricted to either a gun or blade). A home base allows players to take on quests, minimally interact with others, access a database for resource and enemy details, and buy or craft weapons, armor, and items. Once an assignment has been accepted, it’s time to select a squad of up to three other members, along with a backup, and head out to the mission area. After completing several missions of progressively difficult tasks, a story sequence can be initiated to progress the game. Sometimes the event reveals more about the recent history and ongoing struggles against the Aragami, often taking an apocalyptic tone, while other, often shorter scenes further the ongoing character-driven plotlines.

Accessing these events will require surviving a lot of combat. They punctuate multi-mission sessions that will see the player’s squad combating beasts big and small throughout a barren, dilapidated landscape. Mission parameters are largely the same, and a brief describes the target(s) and any additional enemies in the area. If details are sparse, the database can be accessed to determine the Aragami’s element-based strengths and weaknesses. Standard weapons and bullets are available, but the most potent are those that are imbued with the elements, including blaze, freeze, spark, and divinity. Enemies also have vulnerabilities to different bullet types and attack types, such as slash and pierce. Monsters can have large amounts of hit points, and given that each mission is timed, it pays to go over whatever intel is on offer to down the objective as quickly as possible. That said, attack type tends to be less important than the infused element, and blaze is the go-to option, though it pays to maximize damage in order to minimize some of the lengthier battles. Melee and long-range attacks play off each other nicely, with bullets requiring energy gained by landing blows. Supplementing the traditional attacks are Predator Styles. These allow players to devour enemies after dodging, dashing, ending a combo, and while jumping. Devouring engages a heightened regenerative state called Burst Mode and generates special ammo from living Aragami, while material is gained from their corpses. These Aragami bullets can then be shot back at the monster, with its powers dependent on monster and gun type, or into a squadmate for a stackable Burst boost known as Link Burst. Predator Styles offer an extra benefit by engaging buffs that are determined by style. Add in multiple squadmates, the ability to lay traps, and all of the post-mission crafting that goes on, and it can be overwhelming. That’s especially true at first, since so much information is crammed into several unsearchable, unfilterable menus. However, the player will have to go through this process so many times within the first few hours that it will become second nature, eventually settling into a rhythmic routine.

The main drawback to this setup is that it can become too routine. This is especially true in the beginning when the player has to fight the same handful of monsters in the same handful of small- to medium-sized arenas for hours on end. Even when there’s perfect synergy between soldiers and weaponry that allows missions to be completed left and right, the story elements are so sparse and the mechanical elements so similar that it begins to wear thin. When the game expands to add more of something, be it weapons or enemies, there is an initial rush of excitement that re-energizes the player’s flagging enthusiasm. Inevitably, that sense gives way to the previous state, as the game settles back into its familiar base-to-mission pattern, only for the cycle to continue once the next plot reveal or set of gear is unlocked. However, the game waits just a little too long before doling out new narrative bits or content. It’ll eventually happen, but it always feels as if it should’ve several missions sooner.

Not helping matters are a camera and targeting system that work well under optimal conditions but slip up when in the thick of combat out in the wild. Given enough space or a lower enemy count, things are generally good, but that’s rarely the case. Missions generally require battling in or around structures or objects, and fending off multiple monsters while going after the targets, which is frequently when things go awry. I lost count of the number of times when my character vanished behind a giant leg or patch of grass, or when I went to swing but whiffed because the enemy was no longer targeted. Enemies also become enraged when hit, causing them to flail and rush about, which results in even more misses and a surprising amount of running as they need to be chased down. I often found myself spending as much time dashing and running as I did fighting.

Some of these issues are alleviated when playing with others. AI squadmates are best suited to healing and occasionally distracting enemies, which leaves the player to do the heavy lifting. They are less prone to lay traps, act decisively, corral, target weak points, and utilize other strategies that cut back on the pursuing, relentless hammering away, and frequent readjustments that cause single-player combat to drag during extended sessions. That said, they do have some benefits, including the ability to customize their loadouts and Personal Abilities, which adds a variety of buffs and bonuses, such as reducing damage taken, increasing their defense after receiving aid, recovering health through devouring. They also offer post-mission rewards that, if picked enough times, lead to a few extra scenes of the characters hanging out. These offer a decent incentive to play solo, and are especially welcomed for those limited to offline play, but as mentioned, the game really shines when players join together to form a custom squad.

Multiplayer sessions can be played online or via ad-hoc. Players cannot jump between single player and online during the campaign, but they can continue from their save on the main menu. There is a decent amount of options for creating games. Hosts can limit sessions by setting a password, player count, minimum story progress, and maximum story progress. Play Style allows for a bit more refinement, letting the host focus on material hunting, story progression, or taking on varied missions. It isn’t always easy to get into a game, though, as there aren’t a lot of games to be found online at any given time. To find games, players will often have to be open to searching without any preference filter or restriction, and even then, it won’t be uncommon to get the boot. This could very well pick up later on when the next entry releases for PlayStation 4, as it comes with a free copy of Resurrection, but by then, most might very well decide to stick with the newest release. For those who get into a game, the player can trade avatar cards that share basic stats, emote, select from set text responses, and type messages with a slide-in and -out keyboard. It’s a slick and an unobtrusive set-up. In the field, items and material can be collected by anyone who wants it, so there’s no bickering for who picks up what. Performance was generally good as well; though games did hang a few times due to players needing to advance the storyline themselves, which isn’t stated when first logging in, and the host can only initiate the start of the mission for everyone to ready up. At the moment, it’s a natural fit for multiplayer, but it would greatly benefit from more traffic.

God Eater Resurrection is a stylish, lengthy, and oft-repetitive monster-slaying, post-apocalyptic adventure. For some, especially those with friends to share the quest, the grind will offer an enjoyably predictable pattern of material acquisition, crafting, taking down bigger beasts, and new plot points. Others, especially those relying on heal-friendly but less-skilled AI squadmates, will want more of the story, as the scenes sprinkled between the missions arrive too infrequently given the cyclical structure of the design, the disproportionate work required of the player, and the tendency to be forced through the same areas fighting the same enemy hordes. There’s a lot of game here for $20, though, and fans of the monster-hunting and crafting genre will have plenty on their hands for the foreseeable future.

(This review is based on a copy provided by the publisher.)

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