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Path of the Goddess feels as luscious as it looks

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Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess is lush. Set on the side of a mountain that’s been covered in a terrible black defilement, Kunitsu-Gami’s world is an ancient, psychedelic dreamscape packed with magic and otherworldly horrors. It’s also mechanically dense, with moments of slow strategizing and rapid-fire hack-and-slash combat. After playing for nearly an hour at Summer Game Fest, it’s clear that Kunitsu-Gami is much more than a beautiful screenshot.

The game is divided into day and night mechanics, but all of the action takes place in various camps along the mountainside, set under green canopies and among dense foliage. The defilement creates plants with glowing pink orbs and slathers some areas in an iridescent black goo, trapping villagers in putrid sacs and infecting the local deer population.

Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the GoddessKunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess

Capcom

Players are tasked with protecting the Maiden Yoshiro from the Seethe, the monsters that spawn out of the defilement at night. Yoshiro is the key to cleansing the mountainside, but her ritual takes time and she’s incredibly vulnerable. It really takes a village to protect her.

During the day, players purge the defilement and rescue locals from their containment sacs, while also clearing a path for Yoshiro’s dance. Press B on the gamepad to assign an attack role to a villager, and then press RB to place them in the environment. At night, the Seethe pour out of the Torii Gates — the basic hordes are composed of globular, juicy monsters with long, thin arms and gaping mouths lined with sharp teeth.

Combat plays out in a rhythmic “sword dance” style, with simple inputs that can be combined into fancy combos. Using just two attack buttons and a 360-degree camera, players slash through the Seethe, make sure the creatures don’t get too close to Yoshiro, and manage their additional attack units. Combat flows smoothly, with satisfying swordplay and a challenging rush of monsters to defeat at each Torii Gate. After cleansing an area, players can hang out in the camp, upgrading their skills, unlocking new abilities, and learning about the food and culture of the region that’s been defiled.

There are also challenge areas with bigger, deadlier monsters to kill. Here, players are provided a small team of villagers plus upgrade materials to assign these units specific roles, like archer or woodcutter. The challenge enemy I encountered, Gakinyudo, was a giant, eyeless beast that ripped its own jaw in half before the battle began, revealing an even more disgusting form. The monsters in Kunitsu-Gami have distinct backstories dripping in vile details, and I adore the amount of attention their designs have been given.

Here’s how Capcom describes the beast I battled: “The ravenous Gakinyudo are born from the corpses of lecherous monks who fell to defilement from their debauchery while alive. They prefer to dig up their meals from graveyards.” Metal.

I defeated the Gakinyudo, but it took some time, unit rearrangement and a new group-attack move to finish the job. I enjoyed every slice of my sword in this fight.

Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the GoddessKunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess

Capcom

The game’s environments and character designs are dense with fascinating details. The Maiden Yoshiro wears layers of flowing fabrics, a delicate face covering and intricately adorned jewelry, and she dances with a slow, focused purpose. She feels both fragile and incredibly powerful. The distanced, third-person perspective and fully adjustable camera encourage players to investigate every corner of each new area, slashing plants to receive resource orbs and purging shrines that have been covered in ooze.

As each night approaches, the game’s background music becomes more unsettling and discordant, until it’s overrun by hellish screams and the Seethe begin spawning. Details like this make Kunitsu-Gami memorable, even just in demo form. It’s clear that there’s much more to uncover in this game and I’m eager to explore its ancient, magical mountainside in full.

Kuntisu-Gami: Path of the Goddess is due to come out on July 19 for PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC. It’ll be available on Game Pass at launch.


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