The Dynasty Warriors series is no stranger to spin-offs, what with its library of Empires titles and its catalogue of somewhat lacking offshoots like Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce. The property has a spotty record when it comes to swapping out its tried and tested hack and slash formula for something different, so it's safe to say that we approached Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers with some caution. Taking the series' huge cast of characters and plopping them into a turn-based strategy game with its own alternative story, Godseekers isn't the deepest tactical excursion on the market, but it's far from the shambolic spin-off that some may have been anticipating.
As mentioned, the release carves out its own story. The historical Dynasty Warriors timeline is left mostly unchanged, but fantastical elements are sprinkled throughout. As the game's name suggests, the existence of God-like entities is the driving force behind much of the plot, with poster boy Zhao Yun and newcomer Lei Bin embarking on a quest across China to help the mysterious Lixia gather ancient relics. The story itself isn't particularly engaging, but fans of the franchise will appreciate the ways in which it intertwines with the existing Three Kingdoms narrative.
Journeying across China is as simple as selecting a new location from the map. As you progress through the story by completing key battles, you'll gradually unlock new regions that house their own side skirmishes, and slowly but surely, you'll build up a vast network of relationships with characters that you've come across during your adventure. This bonding system gives way to tons of additional dialogue sequences, allowing you to discover the backgrounds and motives of every famous fighter. Needless to say, there's a lot of content to get through if you're looking to push that completion statistic to 100 per cent.
Unfortunately, the gameplay doesn't do quite enough to keep you properly engaged throughout the title's long runtime. Godseekers suffers from a lack of real depth; get through the first few chapters and you'll have likely found a strategic system that suits just about any situation – and you'll have little reason to change things up as you progress. It also doesn't help that there are only a handful of enemy types to contend with; barring specific bosses, you won't encounter many adversaries that pose much of a threat unless you're purposefully trying to make mistakes.
Indeed, it sometimes feels as though the odds are always in your favour – even when you're up against an entire army. You're given access to two different types of special moves: musou attacks, which hit for huge damage, and synchro offensives, which allow for multiple characters to combine their abilities. Both techniques are governed by gauges that fill reasonably fast, and once you know how to best take advantage of them, you'll be able to tear through the enemy with ease. Playing as an overpowered hero and smashing through countless opponents is of course typical of the series, but the concept doesn't really gel with a game that's supposed to be a strategic spin-off – even if there is satisfaction to be had in unleashing your ultimate attacks at just the right time.
The silver lining here, though, is that Godseekers stands out as an accessible strategy title. It only takes a couple of hours to wrap your head around the majority of its workings, and battles are relatively fast-paced, so those who don't appreciate the often glacial gameplay speed of similar games may find the game's quick and easy approach an attractive proposition.
Despite its shortcomings in the gameplay department, the release is surprisingly competent at rewarding your efforts. You may eventually tire of blitzing the same adversaries with the same set of attacks, but opening up loot chests at the end of each battle never gets old. In fact, character progression is one of the game's strongest elements, with dozens of weapons to find and enhance, while huge individual skill trees add a meaty layer of customisation. There's definitely an addictive quality to levelling up your favourite officers and boosting their abilities, but whether that's enough to keep you invested will come down to your tolerance for repetitive gameplay.
Although it's not on the same level as other, more popular tactical titles, Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers is a fair attempt at a strategic spin-off. A lack of depth does hurt the release as bigger battles drag on, but there's fun to be had in gathering allies and creating unique teams of your favourite officers.