We’re hitting a magical, important point for the Nintendo Switch in which developers and customers alike are beginning to realize the limitations of the Switch in terms of what it can and cannot do. While still a robust and peppy little powerhouse, it simply does not have the raw horsepower of the other consoles currently on the market, a sacrifice that was purposely made to help adapt it to a “hybrid” console idea. There have been a few groups that have attempted to port their higher quality titles to the Switch “as-is,” with varied results. L.A. Noire, for example, ran pretty well and looked good, but was staggeringly large for install size. So for Bandai Namco to make the call to bring the latest in one of their more popular series to the Switch would require a bit of finessing to make everything look and feel great. I’m incredibly pleased to say, after a few days of hunting, bursting, devouring and more, that God Eater 3 is a joy to play on the Nintendo Switch.
The plot of God Eater 3 is as such: there are massive monsters roaming the Earth, called Aragami, and they like to destroy everything and everyone, and usually lay waste to civilization in the process. As an added bonus, the world is currently being plagued by a mysterious force called the Ashlands, which literally transforms everything it touches to ash. This Ashland not only is ruining real estate, but it’s also creating new variants of Aragami that are more fearsome and devastating than their fellow monsters. Like previous God Eater titles, you’ve arisen as a God Eater of a new breed: the Adaptive God Eater, or AGE. You’re resistant to the Ash and can hunt without too much difficulty, plus you still maintain the strengths of those who could hunt down and destroy the Aragami. However, you’re viewed as a barely contained threat as a result of your power, and you begin the game living as a slave whose only job is to be dispatched to hunt Aragami when it suits your masters. Shortly, though, you’re able to be freed by the Chrysanthemum, an Ash-crawling ship that is looking to help out other “Caravans” (mobile fortresses that move between the Ash) and to deliver a very important package. This package could end up changing the tide of the world as we know it, though whether for good or evil, no one can say for sure.
God Eater 3 plays as a mission dispatch sort of search, engage and destroy type of game. Throughout the long and sordid storyline, the protagonist (whom you can customize with gender, appearance and such), will befriend other AGEs that he or she meets along the way, and then get assigned various missions which ultimately loop back to “defeat the Aragami.” Depending on the mission, sometimes you’ll do battle with multiple smaller Aragami, or, more often than not (later in the game), a massive, unbelievably terrifying singular beast. You’ll never truly go at the field alone, as you’ll often be flanked by one to three other AGEs in order to take down your target. Combat can last anywhere from a few fleeting moments to several long, agonizing minutes of fast and hectic decision making, and the combat itself is an insane mixture of ranged, melee, magic, items, abilities and learning patterns/tells for when you strike and when you flee.
The combat of God Eater 3 is seriously the make or break for the entire vessel, so, if it’s not something that clicks with you, you’re going to have a problem. Early on in the game, players can easily fall into ruts and traps of thinking the game is too easy and relying on quick-and-dirty simple combat. Get into the thick, mash the Y or X button until the monster falls, call it a day. But the game takes painstaking care to give you all the tools you’ll need to survive later encounters, and it pays to heed their advice. Learning how and when to use your ranged weapon (which can vary from a sniper rifle to a shotgun) is important for both engaging an Aragami from a distance and also to give yourself enough time to prepare to get into the real suck. Timing with throwing up a shield could mean the difference between life and death for your and your fellow AGEs, plus proper shield work means activating different abilities in later instalments, such as triggering a Regen spell on everyone and gaining back some precious HP. There is such a variety in the melee weapons that you’ll have plenty of smaller missions to work out what you want and need to work with the best. The first set of tools you get are simple versions of every other weapon you’ll see in the future, from the common broadsword and axe to the scythe and dual blades, and, my personal favorite, the massive bat’leth inspired ring. Figure out how you best mix in with these weapons, because you’ll be able to add more abilities to them and also craft stronger, faster, and cooler sounding versions quickly. One of the first iterations of the dual blades is called Furious, and I so wanted to just stay there because that’s a damn fine name for a weapon.
The “eating” of God Eater 3 is the AGEs ability to summon powers and bite a literal chunk out of the Aragami they’re facing, which then triggers a Burst mode of new, powerful attacks that work as long as you’ve got some of that delicious Aragami meat in your system. These abilities get stronger the more you use them, and you learn to adapt to different and more interesting fights as time goes on. It can sometimes break up the flow of combat to constantly need to bite the enemies to maintain your strength, so making sure that you get the job done quickly and lean on the other AGEs to keep the combat tight (using things like the Engage System) in order to be your damn best. The sheer number of mechanical ideas to keep the combat going in God Eater 3 can sometimes be overwhelming, but it’s no worse than what people often need to keep in mind when they’re playing other giant-hunting games, such as Monster Hunter. If you’re interested in focusing on a single target instead of just constantly cleaning out simple mobs in the overworld, God Eater 3 is the game for you.
In fact, as someone who did take a bit of time with Monster Hunter back in the 3DS days, I quite prefer God Eater 3’s approach and balance of the subject. For one, I feel like I’m able to cut to the quick of what’s most important to me, which is fighting and killing monsters. There’s plenty of plot preamble (more on that in a moment), but I’m less confused about needing to do this for one quest or do this for another, or making a goddamn campfire and cooking myself dinner. There’s one machine in God Eater 3 where I go for my all-purpose shopping, from upgrading equipment and installing skills to crafting new items and customizing my look, and, oh yea, saving. It’s all in one spot, and, once you figure out where that is (be it on the ‘Mum or in a Port city), you just remember that and the rest is put into combat. You can do various side missions to get more items, unlock more skills and hone your abilities (plus improve your rank for online hunting), but you can just focus on the damn story and do just fine with the missions as a result. You can’t put the JoyCon in your behind and just pretend the game will play itself, but, as long as you’re not a schlub and do your best, you can clear story mode without needing to go too far off script with side missions.
Additionally, I think the game looks positively great. There’s a clear downgrade in how God Eater 3 looks in handheld mode versus when it gets docked, but not enough for me to feel angry at the overall experience, and certainly not at the performance. I never had any slowdowns or lags within the actual game itself, and I only suffered some stuttering during a cutscene once or twice (which I amended by rebooting the game after saving). I’ve also had the same microSD card for close to two years now and play THIS MANY GAMES, so take that with a grain of salt. Plus, the monsters are these fearsome, angular monstrosities that feel more inspired by yokai and kaiju than dinosaurs or actual animals, which makes the fight more grim and exciting for me. I adore the level of customization for the protagonist, which lends an air of roleplaying that I don’t always enjoy in certain titles, and most of the other characters are delightful to engage with and interact with as well (Amy and Phym are clearly my favorites, though I have a soft spot for Zeke). The levels are sometimes a bit repetitive in design (especially earlier on), but they get the point across and allow for good hunts with some texture and palette swaps, and a much better variety later on.
While I fully understand the plot of God Eater 3, it does feel incredibly…anime. That’s the only word for it, and people who’ve watched a bit of anime will understand the vague blanket a bit better. There’s a clear direction in where the story is going, there are people who think they’re the heroes but they’re actually the villains, some of the acting is ridiculously over-the-top, and the way to salvation and hope seems so clean cut that you would walk down the road blindfolded and not trip over anything. Additionally, with a more anime influence, there are moments of ridiculous breast exposure that doesn’t seem to fit into the game whatsoever. Like, okay, we’re in the wastelands, we’re fighting against monsters and a coming plague, there are new Aragami who can DEVOUR US LIKE WE DEVOUR THEM, and that all deserves a huge amount of attention, but let’s make sure the camera rests on Claire’s rack for a couple of beats while the player wonders how the hell you can keep those things contained in a top like that. I’m all for objectification in certain elements and games (see my last couple of reviews), but it has to at least make sense with the story and the target of the game. It just feels out of place here, like they thought they might lose the interest of the audience with too much, I don’t know, gameplay, so let’s throw in some boobs.
With a huge amount of side missions and extra content to explore, not to mention a surprisingly vibrant online scene for players to hunt together and take on the appropriate roles needed (being a healer or a tank for fifteen minutes at a time), God Eater 3 is a deity-sized instalment on the Switch that is worth your time, worth the price and worth the free demo available. I was extremely happy with my time spent hunting monsters, and that’s as someone who absolutely abhorred Monster Hunter. If you want a dope post-apocalyptic game with some darker undercurrent from previous God Eater games, more flashy mechanics, and a story that’s a bit predictable but at least not overlong, then this is a great departure from the everyday and a step into the Ashlands.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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GOD EATER 3 Review
Gameplay - 9/10
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Replay Value - 9/10
User Review( votes)
Devour and Burst your way across the desolate wasteland in this magnificent game that can show, once and for all, that man is meant to totally consume nature.