The terminology in God Eater 3 is in a world of its own, and it even feels a little complicated to explain the game/s in our own words. The series tells the story of a conflict between the weak human race and a superior biological life form. Independently acting cells, which decompose everything they come into contact with, have invaded Earth and release poisonous ash as part of their attack, ash which now covers the remnants of our dying world.
These cells can also combine themselves to form huge creatures too strong for us to fight - how can you possibly defeat something that can't even be touched? Those who remain, however, have discovered an answer to this riddle and pay a high price to be able to counteract the threat. The so-called AGE - Adaptive God Eaters - are themselves the result of a series of inhumane experiments, and we play one member of this special unit in the latest action-game by Bandai Namco.
From the very beginning, the game makes it quite clear to us who and what we are in the eyes of the remaining humans, despite the great sacrifices the AGE must make. In this sense, God Eater 3 tells the classic hero story of a character who transcends the capabilities of his own kind and becomes the hope of everyone else. Unfortunately, the title doesn't really seem to care too much about the telling of its own story, which is why there are few narrative beats to show for a game that offers around 25 to 30 hours of gameplay.
So much of the narrative is completely ignored by the gameplay. The reason for this is the old-fashioned mission design that comes straight from the early Monster Hunter games. There is just one sole mission type that, despite a certain level of variance, can only be played to a very limited extent. While God Eater 3 tries to tell a rousing, emotional story with all too human problems, the game keeps us slaying giant monsters called Aragami and there's a disconnect between story and gameplay.
The narrative is broken up in a number of places by randomly-positioned hunting missions, and we got frustrated when we had to play through further assignments in order to experience the next story beat. On the other hand, our gaming experience was also marked by the fact that there is no narrative progression at all until the next set of frivolous scenarios have been completed. It's a pity that God Eater 3 doesn't want to provide a coherent gaming experience and does so little with its own strengths. The game rarely succeeds in conveying tension or meaning, and when it does these moments never last long. The all too fragmented mixture of gameplay and story is irreparably split, which might even leave die-hard fans unsatisfied at the end of the day.
Aficionados of the series surely know most of this already, since the story has always been a disguise to draw newcomers into the engaging gameplay spiral. This still works, though, as we spawn in one of only 10 maps and must kill randomly assigned enemies. There are pre-determined resource locations, a timer ticking towards our game over, and a set of mission rewards in case we succeed, which in turn flow into the creation or expansion of our arsenal.
Although, as explained, the story is mostly about human problems and solutions, Aragami are the only things we fight. These creatures have their own patterns of behaviour and by smashing certain body parts we can reduce their combat effectiveness or inflict additional damage to their weak spots. An innovation for God Eater 3 is the Ash Aragami, which can utilise extra skills when they nibble on us. We should probably explain that further: the God Eater's special weapons extract certain properties from their victims when they come into contact with them, and in the game that is used to increase one's combat strength. Ash Aragami have this ability too, which is why the monsters can unlock dangerous burst states (even more aggressive fighting phases); as long as this state persists, our own buffs will be blocked, so we can't, for example, use bond links with the members of our squad.
Other than that, we're basically playing the same game from 2016, because little work has been done to improve the overall package. There are a few new weapon types (double blades and a laser) and some additional combat systems that provide further buffs to our crew during combat. It might not have much impact, but God Eater 3 gains a bit more depth thanks to these revisions. When it comes to crafting, however, we see a lot of wasted potential as the various weapon branches divide into different elements, but generally speaking, it makes little difference which club you use and when you use it.
In the technical department, God Eater 3 ran solidly on the PS4 Pro we used for testing, showing no problems at all (however, we can't comment on the quality of the PC port). The localisation works pretty well, too, although the dubbing is only available in English or Japanese. Unfortunately, our protagonist is the strong silent type who doesn't make any noise during the cutscenes but who screams and moans endlessly during battle. Luckily, some of the music tracks work really well with the action, so we'd encourage you to turn down the annoying comments and combat effects to focus on other things. Also, navigation around the menus leaves much to be desired and undermines the otherwise middling production values of the game even further.
The list of Monster Hunter clones is a long one, but over time God Eater (in addition to the Toukiden series) was able to excel and offer a true alternative to Capcom's everlasting monster slasher. With Monster Hunter: World, however, the bar has been raised and God Eater 3 makes that terribly obvious. The game runs smoothly and the style will certainly satisfy anime fans, but despite some minor innovations and additions, it feels like the franchise is treading water. The story is broken and distorted and the gameplay can get dull and repetitive, while much more can be easily missed or overlooked due to lacklustre explanations or the use of progress restrictions. Fans of the last game probably know all of this already, but nowadays there are better alternatives waiting for us to play.
Loading next content