The Monster Hunter franchise has had a dedicated cult following for years that has jumped from Sony to Nintendo over the course of the last couple generations of consoles, and many developers have come in light of this to fill the massive hole that Monster Hunter left. Now, God Eater Resurrection, a concept whose genesis initiated on the PlayStation Portable, has arrived on the PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 4 in hopes of hitting the Monster Hunter jackpot and paving the way for its direct sequel this August.
Described as “conglomerations of tens or hundreds of thousands of thinking, voracious single-celled organisms,” Aragami are creatures of all shapes and sizes that arrived without word or warning and began wreaking havoc on the human race. Along with them came specialized weapons called God Arcs, which are the only means of executing Aragami; for this, Aragami were coined Gods and those accepted by God Arcs as wielders were ultimately called God Eaters.
Within this concept is the ability to gather Oracle Cells from Aragami in order to craft new weapons and equipment as well as upgrade them in preparation for bigger and stronger baddies as the story progresses. With the only difficulty in gathering components being in how challenging the monsters may be, the act of crafting is a rather simplistic affair. Monster parts are always at access, so there’s no need to worry about personal storage while going into combat, as is the case with Monster Hunter. This helps narrow the focus of the game to combat, which makes the game itself accessible to more players while still accommodating fans of the genre enough to keep them coming back for more; though a fair few of the latter may wish for something more involved.
As far as story goes, the narrative does a decent job of moving things along with the focus still remaining on combat. Missions pave the way through the game, but story-specific missions feature cut scenes that weave the narrow characterization of the supporting characters into the world now infested with powerful creatures. These characters can all be leveled through benefits earned after each mission, such as increased returns from a successful run, which are permanent to that character. The narrow progression system feels more engaging with all the attention needed for each character along the way. All aspects of the game work well together and, while narrow in scope, fall together in perfect tandem for a nice, even pace that spans the entire game.
Combat itself, after a fair acclimation period, has a favorable flow to it. While most games of this ilk are slower paced, God Eater Resurrection moves rather quickly, and the player has the skill set and commands to match. Varied attack combos, dodges, blocks, and range attacks are all at the ready at all times. With a generous array of weapons from scythes to hammers (all of which have a range weapon transformation to them), combat is just fun under the proper preparation. What God Eater does correctly over all other hunting games, even when compared to the original source matter, is issue warnings for each mission that help indicate what weapons will be more potent against the upcoming monsters. This helps reduce the necessity for borderline-unnecessary trial and error and helps maintain the consistent pace of the game as a whole. With a camera mechanic that is favorable in all but the tightest of spaces, combatting evil cannot be more engaging and accessible.
Not everything is sunshine and rainbows within God Eater, however. Apart from a lack of graphical output benefitting the PS4, a few button mappings are nothing short of egregious. Having to use the same button for multiple functions must be programmed well and easy to differentiate, thus making the line between functional and broken a risky line to walk. Here, that line is walked often, wobbling back and forth due to unforeseen circumstances within combat. The item menu is opened with R3, navigating through the item list is done with R1 and L1, and using items is executed with Square. When no enemies are around, everything works well, but the risk of opening the menu is yours when enemies are around, because the dodge and attack buttons in this state are either used for something else or completely useless; this gripe isn’t as big, because this case is all about proper micromanagement in lieu of the limitations on the Vita, but the PS4 has many more buttons at the ready that aren’t being properly used. The D-Pad controls the camera, much like the Right Joystick, and the Trigger buttons do nothing.
The biggest issue I had with the controls revolved around the R1 Button, which is bound to both sprinting and switching between melee and ranged weapons: A tap will switch weapons and holding it will sprint. This combination sounds great on paper, but the big problem lies in the throes of combat. Quite often I needed to make a second reaction to a situation, so I would end up swapping weapons and lose the lock-on I had on the enemy, leaving me vulnerable and the enemy out of sight while I try to stumble my way back to what I initially wanted without getting slaughtered. With the lock-on system complicating things when monsters are up close and personal, close quarters combat can become an inconvenient chore once the battlefield narrows.
Really, though, the combat issues have enough wiggle room that with some more discipline and know-how become nothing more than the rare misstep, leaving the final product of God Eater Resurrection a success ready for both new and seasoned hunters. The differences between the Vita and PS4 versions are really the difference between the portable screen and the television. In fact, jumping between the two versions is a breeze as well as a downright convenience, so it’s unfortunate that the title isn’t Cross Buy; but at $20, it may be worth buying both versions.