Written by the most talented, and least prolific (TT), writer Eushully has, Matsue Akira (松江旺來), Ikusa Megami Zero (Goddess of War) is a medieval fantasy RPG depicting the birth of the god power wielding, morally ambiguous adventurer by the name of Serika.
As Serika begins his journey as a positively-minded, kind adventurer he is constantly exposed to atrocities, betrayed and manipulated by his comrades; even a gods risk divine intervention to make his life more miserable. There is just that much to the phrase “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”, as Serika gets his mind messed up so much, he is rendered unable to even piece his memories together, or sustain a stable personality for that matter. Not that he’s poorly written, in fact, he’s one of the more interesting characters in the fantasy genre, maybe not as much for his depth as his sheer unpredictability.
The dark, epic plot is full of tragedy, crazed deities and perverse rituals, and it works very well at creating a genuine sense of adventure. The only real problem I had with it, was that it centered on Serika, as an individual, a bit too much, with fates of other characters and even countries feeling almost trivial next to his grandiose, yet aimless quest. I think the game could have been even better with a few more permanent side-characters to spice things up. Then again, they tried that in the subsequent Verita and totally fucked it up (it was written by a different guy who is a talentless hack though).
The fascinating setting is another great aspect of this work. Being honed for years since the release of original Ikusa Megami, it offers a variety of mind-blowing fantastical concepts; I was particularly fascinated by its innovative take on immortality and the notion of corporeal hell, though the hints at post-apocalyptic sci-fi would have definitely taken the cake for me if they had been fleshed out a bit more. It’s really unfortunate that the game raises more questions (setting-wise) than it answers, and I still don’t know some of the most curious stuff despite playing pretty much all of the games set in this universe.
The game-play is both challenging and intensely satisfying with a fair amount of strategy needed to overcome the game’s harder bosses. I also noticed that the “epicness” of the game’s plot and the hardships Serika is facing narrative-wise, actually scale quite reasonably with the game-play level of the character. Ikusa Megami is a shining example of how game-play mechanics can intermingle with narrative to make it grow on you even further. I’m actually quite surprised such a gem was devised for a niche market as it can easily kick the ass out of pretty much every mainstream CRPG I have ever played.
Good, addicting game-play, paired with an interesting epic story and cool fascinating characters, makes this game a must-play for anyone interested in medieval fantasy or RPGs in general. Really, the only things I can complain about is that the story and characters aren’t really on the same level of complexity as in the “highest-tier” visual novels, though they are still better than what I got from most fantasy novels I’ve read, including Lord of the Rings and whatever copycats it spawned.
|Good HCG artwork||Story is a little bit too unicentral|
|Nice music||Lacks variation in important characters|
|Interesting medieval fantasy setting full of crazed deities and perverse rituals|
|Good addicting game-play|
|Great challenging difficulty|