Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess Hands-On Preview

In a nutshell:

  • We demoed Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess and spoke with the developers about the creative choices and technical aspects that went into the game.
  • Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess is first and foremost a tower defense game as the director Shuichi Nakata is a fan of strategy.
  • The developers wishes for players of Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess to appreciate the game regardless of their exposure to the Japanese art and culture that inspired it.

At the Summer Game Fest, we were able to demo Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess for the first time. With such an elusive reveal last year, we were wondering what kind of game it was and how it matches its unique aesthetic.

Our guides to this elusive spirit world were Shuichi Nakata and Yoshiaki Hirabayashi, who spoke to us extensively about the art, gameplay, and overall flow of Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess, as after our experience with the demo made it one of the titles to look forward to later this year!

The Path of the Goddess is Paved In Beauty

As seen from the many trailers, we’re really loving how we’re seeing and playing an art installation. It appears based on traditional Japanese culture heavily inspired by animism. We asked what art style inspired Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess’s main aesthetic.

“The setting is based on Japanese mythology,” asserts Nakata. “It is inspired by the paintings of Ukiyo-e, but I represented the visuals I way I thought it would be best.”

Path of the Goddess Path

One past Capcom game that reminds us of this style from before was the mid-2000s title Okami. When we asked if it Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess was inspired by said title or whether it’s set in the same universe, I was greeted by a laugh, “We’ve received many comments that Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess is a spiritual follow-up to Okami, which we feel is a happy misunderstanding.”

Playing through the short demo of Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess, we finally see these brilliant paintings come to life. From the trailers, we expected an action-based game with a bit of strategy. After a few rounds on the Myojin-Pass, I realized I was wrong with my initial impressions, and for that we were glad for this happy surprise.

Kunitsu-Gami’s Agency in Strategy

While Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess may seem to appear to be an action-packed game, it is most definitely a tower defense game where the main character, Soh, would acquire several townspeople and territory by purifying tainted regions and populace in the map. These units can be utilized to protect Yoshiro, a divine maiden, as she walks a path to ultimate purify the Torii gates.

“I personally like tower defense strategy games,” Nakata admits. “However, if it’s just a game that focuses solely on defending the base, once you are on the losing side, there’s no way to overcome that flow of battle. So there was a point where I thought that there’s a way we can add elements that to that which would allow players to take action themselves. Or change the flow of battle to make it a more exhilarating experience, which leads to this new genre of action game.”

Path of the Goddess Combat

The flow of Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess is determined by a day-and-night cycle. During the day, you can gather your resources, and pave a path for Yoshiro to follow. At night, you’re attacked by the Seethe, a fearsome foe that comes in waves. If you’re not careful, you will succumb to their relentless attacks, leaving you behind as a spirit, unable to attack.

“When Soh dies, you enter into a spirit state,” Nakata explains. “You will need to wait until you’re able to revert back to your old state. During that time, you’re still able to command your units to attack the Seethe, defend Yoshiro, or however you see fit. This gives you agency in your strategy.”

I did not clue into that mechanic during my first try as I mostly relied on Soh being able to attack the Seethe, leaving my units unmoved. This dynamic changed when I faced off against an area boss, whose brutal attacks left me defeated after a few hits. Had I known that I could control my units in a spirit state, I would’ve succeeded right away.

Path of the Goddess Respawn

The Seethe that we encountered during the demo are the Gaki and the area boss, which is an alpha version of the swarm. They’re mostly basic Seethe that have a close-range attack and attempts to overwhelm Yoshiro with sheer numbers. We asked about the enemy variety and a preview to see what other Seethe we’ll encounter in the future.

“The enemies available during the demo are limited because we wanted users to understand what kind of game they’re playing, so we kept the enemies simple,” Hirabayashi explains. “As seen from the trailer, one of the enemy units we’ve introduced is the Batsu. It’s an enemy unit that buffs other enemy units, so you will need to tweak your strategy to prioritize buffed enemies or pick off the weaker units.”

We also get to see a few of the basic units on display such as the Ascetic and the Woodcutter. The Woodcutter is a close-ranged unit that delivers strong melee damage. While the Ascetic is my favorite unit thus far as they cast status magic that freeze enemy units in place, buying you time to regroup or speeds up your attacks.

kunitsu-gami seethe

As you complete the level, you will unlock slots in your sword guard or tsuba that enables beneficial passive bonuses that empower Soh to face off against the attacking Seethe. We wondered how else we can acquire these powerful power-ups to aid us in our ultimate battle.

“There are many ways you can receive these tsuba in the game. Once you complete certain conditions in the game or after battle. Furthermore, these bonuses allow you different playstyles in your game. You can strengthen Soh and relegate your units as pure defense to protect Yoshiro. You may also strengthen your units to do the fighting and Soh can behave as a general and be in a more strategic position. There are many options.”

Purity In Cultural Exchange

Finally, we asked the developers if they have a message for Filipino players curious to try out the wonders of Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess.

“We’ve spent a lot of time to make sure that we were able to merge Japanese culture to create a fun, engaging type of game. The more they play the game, they’ll be able to understand how deep the gameplay unfolds,” Nakata claims.

Path of the Goddess

“There is a lot of Japanese culture imbued into the game and we want the users to see that. We feel that by playing this game, players will see another side to Japanese culture,” Hirabayashi concludes.

We don’t have to wait too long in order to experience the full range of what Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess has to offer as the game launches next month!

Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess will be available in PS5, Xbox Series X|S and PC on July 19, 2024.

Our Summer Game Fest 2024 coverage is powered by Lenovo Philippines and Lenovo Legion.

Leave a comment

Tooltip Text