Libra: God Eater 3 (Switch)
Libra is a series which provides first impressions of games before their full review. These are generally spoiler free, however some base plot points – as well as some mechanic/system reveals – could lurk ahead.
I love Monster Hunter. I think the feeling of preparing for a battle by investing a great deal of time and preparation in various other subsystems and prior skirmishes with particular monsters is one of the most satisfying gameplay loops in the Role-Playing Genre – though I do know that it isn’t for everyone. Since I’ve started playing games in the series, I’ve enjoyed both the narrative and multiplayer aspects of the games, which shy away from lore in favor of more urgent, pressing matters that suit the overarching theme of “beat monster, get stronger.” My love for this series in particular was what caused me to pick up God Eater Burst on the PS Vita, and now the Switch port of God Eater 3. If there’s anything you’ll need to know before going into the game, it’s that it plays similarly to Capcom’s iconic series, with enough wrinkles in the fabric to give even a Monster Hunter skeptic a look.
As a recipient of one of the God Arcs, you take on the role of a mostly-silent protagonist as a member of a new age of Artificial God Eaters. God Arcs are weapons infused with Oracle Cells, the same single-cell building blocks that comprise the dreaded Aragami, this game’s equivalent of Monsters. The process of creating A.G.E.s is not without its risks, and many are recruited at a young age to serve more wealthy beneficiaries as the world suffers through a toxic atmosphere known as the Ash. Conscripted to serve under harsh conditions, you and your fellow A.G.E.s long to break free of your slavish existence, and through a series of fateful events, manage to gain such an opportunity. You’ll travel the land alongside a cadre of quirky characters as you fight to carve your own legacy.
There’s much more of a narrative arc in God Eater, along with numerous important characters to keep track of, but God Eater sets itself further apart from Monster Hunter with its much bleaker atmosphere and tone. There is no semi-peaceful coexistence with large monsters in the Ashlands, and the safest place you’ll find yourself is likely on an Ash Crawler or a Port, which are anything but secure. There’s some intrigue to be found in the way A.G.E.s are treated in the current climate, as well as the politics connecting ports and provinces. Though the tale has an air of gravitas, the character interactions are still fairly generic and lighthearted, at times devolving into the most stock interactions one might find in a JRPG. Although the various hubs force you to interact with NPCS with some mandatory character dialogue, these exchanges rarely add much to the already-dramatic cutscenes.
Fortunately, the majority of God Eater is gameplay and not story, and this is where you’ll find the more familiar ARPG traits on display. Though the x and y buttons are used for heavy and light attack strings respectively, there are plenty more button combinations to try out in order to maximize the potential of your God Arc. These devices are made of previously-mentioned manipulative cells, which means that a God Arc can function as a melee weapon, shield, and gun via mid-battle form shifting. The melee options are the most varied, with short and long sword variants, buster swords, hammers, lances, scythes, dual blades, and a ring blade called the heavy moon.
Surprisingly, the ranged mode of God Arcs are almost as colorful, with assault, blast, sniper, shot, and raygun variants. Lastly, you can choose from three sizes of shields, which have semi-unique properties. If you think that’s the whole of your unique loadout, however, you’d be incorrect – skills of all shapes and sizes can be added to your moveset, requiring specific button combinations or status conditions in order to execute. These skills level up based on usage, which means the “gear grind” in God Eater comes more from executing moves over the course of many battles rather than gathering materials. You will be doing that, of course, but you’ll only need to craft and upgrade your God Arcs, not your wearable equipment. There are additional combat mechanics, such as an objective-based Acceleration Trigger and a team-play-based Engage system, but detailing each of these, even in a full review, would be exhausting.
The resulting combination of mechanics, as well as the general game speed, results in something more briskly-paced than Monster Hunter. The game’s addition of a dash mechanic allows players to close gaps between them and their target Aragmi at an absurd speed, and most God Arcs have impressively fast animations – even the hammer, which has a rocket-powered swing. But the cycle of combat itself – which involves constant action in order to devour the opponent Aragami and boost your own abilities, means that you’ll need to adapt to the game’s speed, or get left behind in the process. With a constant juggling act of melee and ranged abilities, it can be difficult at times to get your bearings, but extended play sessions and a deeper investment in all of the game’s facets will gradually help you adapt to the overwhelming nature of the game.
While I’ve yet to face all of the game’s Aragami, or sink substantial time into the game’s multiplayer, I’m starting to see why God Eater is more than just a simple imitation of the ARPG combat found in contemporary titles. The addition of an intriguing world and narrative is nice, but the Aragami battles that are equal parts visceral and wacky are the star of the show. While the game is just as heavy – if not more so – on menu navigation and proper preparation as its Capcom counterpart, I am looking forward to seeing where my journey through the Ashlands takes me.
- An impressively weighty, yet acrobatic combat system
- A variety of playstyles, further enhanced by custom skill slots and multiple weapon transformations
- A bleak, post-apocalyptic setting and storyline
- A wide array of avatar customization options
- Lots of menu navigation and preparation, with little elsewhere to explore
- Shallow characterization and writing in the main narrative
- An overwhelming amount of options for newcomers
Keep an eye on SwitchRPG for our full review in the future, and let us know your thoughts on God Eater 3 – whether as a newcomer or a seasoned veteran – in the comments below.