GameSpot may receive revenue from affiliate and advertising partnerships for sharing this content and from purchases through links.

Kunitsu-Gammi: Path of the Goddess Made Me Feel Smart In Ways Few Action Games Have Before

Capcom's upcoming game is difficult to describe, or even show, but feels incredibly satisfying to play.


When I first saw the Kunitsu-Gammi: Path of the Goddess' reveal trailer last year, the gameplay made it seem like Capcom was returning to the hack-n-slash action of Onimusha. The style of the trailer was rooted in a fantastical and monstrous Sengoku Japan setting, and a masked hero, armed with a sword, slashed through mobs of grotesque beasts. There wasn't much need to decipher it beyond that--it was an old-fashioned brawler from a developer that has done plenty of them in the past. Now that I've had hands-on time with the game, I find that my initial assumption from a year ago--while not entirely wrong--was only half right. Kunitsu-Gammi: Path of the Goddess is more than a return to a tried-and-true genre, and is instead shaping up to be an all-new twist on two genres I love.

Kunitsu-Gammi: Path Of The Goddess
Kunitsu-Gammi: Path Of The Goddess

To explain Kunitsu-Gammi: Path of the Goddess at its most basic level, it's half tower defense-style strategy game and half hack-n-slash, in which both operate in real-time, complementing one another in novel ways. As Soh, you must guide the goddess Yoshiro through Japanese villages that have been defiled by a demonic-like presence. In order to rid the land of evil, Yoshiro must cleanse the village's Torii gates, from which Seethes--grotesque and terrifying monsters--emerge in an attempt to stop the goddess from purifying the land. Each level operates in a day-and-night cycle. During the day, you'll gather resources and purge villagers who are imprisoned in ghastly cocoons, who will in return join your party to fight alongside you. When night comes, battle commences as Seethes pour from the Torii gates, and you must protect Yoshiro at all costs.

As my first night pushed on, I stood guard at the Torii gate as mobs of monsters emerged. I used a series of combos to dance between beasts, cutting them down and gathering crystals (the game's main resource). With the press of a button, I was able to pause my game and reposition some of my villagers to better guard paths on either side of the helpless Yoshiro, preventing my enemies from flanking her. Moving back and forth, I would change my strategy, sometimes assigning roles to the villagers to take on a more defensive position, then re-enter real-time combat to whale on monsters using an array of light attacks ending with a heavy blow.

The combination of these genres creates a synergy that is extremely rewarding for someone who, like me, loves the flow of strategy games just as much as I love to slash through hordes of enemies. It's a merging of contrasts that synchronize in a way that feels fresh to play and intuitive to learn. In the 45 minutes of hands-on time I had with the game, it took me only a short moment to learn the game's many working systems, from resource management and commanding a group of villagers in battle, to getting to grips with its melee combo system. It might sound like a lot, but to the game's credit, the many systems at play are simple enough to understand on their own, such that interlacing them together felt finely balanced and easy to grasp. Once I found my bearings, the reward of executing a well-laid plan followed with punchy combat made it difficult to set the controller down.

Kunitsu-Gammi: Path Of The Goddess
Kunitsu-Gammi: Path Of The Goddess

The game's director, Shuichi Kawata, admitted that it can be a bit complicated to understand from simply a trailer, but its combination of genres was the foundation of the game from the very start of its conception, and Kawata-san believes there isn't quite anything like it at the moment. "I like tower defense games and strategy games," he said. "But I felt like there was something missing, something else I could have added to it."

For Kawata-san, he loved the feeling of being overwhelmed in a strategic battle, but wanted to create a sense of urgency in being able to turn the battle around in its final moments. By adding action combat, it elevated the potential to give the player more agency in being involved first-hand in the fight.

As night looms in each level, there's a harrowing sense of dread as the day comes to a close. The music droned with dark tones as I scrambled to make sure I had gathered enough crystals--a currency used to both carve the darkness out from the path so the Yoshiro can get closer to the gate, and to assign roles to the villagers to help in the fight. During my time, I was only able to get a look at three roles that can be assigned to villagers: the woodcutter, an up-close brawler; the ascetic, a mystic type that executes an area-of-effect that temporarily slows down enemies; and archers. Producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi told me that there are five roles that have been revealed in the trailers, including a wrestler and a shaman, but there are still a few more to look forward to that haven't been revealed.

There's a strategic balance in deciding whether to use the crystals to get the goddess closer to the gate so the level can be over sooner, but the trade-off could be you may not have enough crystals to turn your villagers into fighters, thus putting a lot of the burden on you to defend Yoshiro personally until the night is through. Combined with being surrounded by absolutely mangled-looking monsters makes the game's terror remarkably effective, and in turn cleansing a village and returning it to its former beauty all the more rewarding.

Purifying a village is reminiscent of the same feeling of relief I have when reaching a safe room in the Resident Evil franchise. It's a moment to let my guard down, as serene and majestic music swells with a series of twinkling piano notes. It's during this time when you can upgrade roles for villagers, abilities, etc. It's also a time to connect with the villagers themselves. Each villager has their own distinct names and stories; they have routines in a normal life, like taking naps in the grass or cutting wood. Animals--such as dogs, cats, deer, and pigs, just to name a few--populate the area, where you can interact and pet them, and it's great.

Having animals that you can pet and hang with is a vital part of director Shuichi Kawata's vision, despite producer Hirabayashi-san often questioning it. "Does it have any meaning to how many animals you can interact with in the game?" Hirabayashi-san would ask. But having played it, I stand with Kawata-san's inclusion of having an array of furry pals to interact with. Coming off the heels of a tense battle and taking time to pet the wildlife while roaming a lively village is similar to having therapy animals, alleviating a sense of tension before trudging into the next skirmish against the darkness that's ravaged the land. In blending two contrasting game genres, Kunitsu-Gammi equally manages to strike a marvelous balance between serenity and terror.

Going into the project, Kawata-san always knew that it was going to be rooted in not just the folklore of Japanese Yokai (traditional Japanese supernatural spirits and entities), but its monster designs. Monsters, like strategy and action games, are another focal point of Kawata's passions. During our interview, Kawata-san handed me his phone to show me dozens upon dozens of his own sculptures, which were meticulously detailed models of muscular, grotesque, and veiny creatures. Kunitsu-Gammi, by all accounts, seems like a passion project for Kawata, and it shows in almost every aspect.

Kunitsu-Gammi: Path Of The Goddess
Kunitsu-Gammi: Path Of The Goddess

In some ways, Kunitsu-Gammi: Path of the Goddess is reminiscent of Brutal Legend, the Double Fine cult classic that melded real-time-strategy with brawler controls and open-world exploration. Brutal Legend was an anomaly that attempted to blend several genres together, and as a result, didn't execute any of them particularly well. On the other hand, it also makes me think of one of my favorite series, Pikmin--an RTS primarily built on time management, exploration, and crowd control. Kunitsu-Gammi falls somewhere in the same category of these console strategy oddities, but honed in and focused on its genres in a way that feels well-realized, inspired, and--based on the few levels I got to play--unlike anything I've played in recent memory.

While I may have been caught off-guard by Kunitsu-Gammi: Path of the Goddess' initial reveal, the game has ended up being far more intriguing than just another hack-n-slash game, as it first appeared. I would have still been excited for that game, but what Kawata and team are making has me far more engaged as it feels genuinely new and fresh, making it one of my most anticipated games of the year. Kunitsu-Gammi: Path of the Goddess is coming to PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PC, PS4, and Xbox One on July 19, 2024.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email

Join the conversation
There are 1 comments about this story