Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess preview – it’s wild

It makes no damn sense. Compels me though... Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess is a wild game that leans into the weirdness.
Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess

When I approached one of the demo booths for Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess at Summer Game Fest, the PR representative from Capcom immediately asked if I was familiar with the game. “I saw the trailer during last year’s Xbox showcase,” I told them.

“Okay… Well it’s deeply weird,” they replied, with what sounded almost like a hint of exasperation in their voice about just how they were going to explain it to me. “It’s sort of a tower defense but you also fight and command guys. Just, uh… Jump in and see,” they said.

Folks, they were not wrong about any of it – including the ‘being nervous about how to explain it’ part. Now it’s my turn to try to explain it to you, dear reader, and honestly, I’m worried about how exactly I can do so in turn.

In Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess you play as a sword-wielding warrior charged with protecting a princess. Still with me? Cool.

You’re journeying across a mountain that’s plagued with a fleshy, demonic ‘defilement’. You and the princess begin at one end of a corridor, and a demon-spawning torii gate lays at the other end, which only the princess’s power can cleanse and seal. 

Time is of the essence in Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess

Each level of Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess operates on a day/night cycle with a slowly ticking clock. No demons spawn during the day, and so this is where you do all of your preparations; chopping up infected objects to earn coins, getting a feel for the map’s layout, finding and oftentimes rescuing villagers, searching for unlockables, and so on.

The coins are the most valuable part, as they’re what you use to pay villagers to transform into different kinds of warriors, and also feed to the princess to make her move further down the lane toward the gate.

You can snap to a command screen on the fly to re-position and give orders to your villagers. They don’t stray from their assigned spot, but they’re also not invincible and will require constant support (and occasional healing) from you directly.

The Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess demo only allowed villagers to be turned into axe-wielding melee soldiers, or spellcasters that possess the ability to greatly slow any enemies who get near them, but there was a greyed-out archer class as well. You can pay to change a villager’s class at any time, which helps a lot for being adaptive on the battlefield. Doing so will cost you the full coin fee for each class, however. 

Your hero, meanwhile, fights with the full breadth of abilities that you’d expect from a third-person samurai action brawler, but firmly so on the Dynasty Warriors end of the spectrum as opposed to the Sekiro one.

Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess
Image: Capcom

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The ability to feed coins to the princess with the goal of making her move disappears at night, and if any demon touches her she instantly dies. If your hero dies however, they simply turn into a ghost and have to wait to respawn. Villagers can still be fully commanded while on the astral plane though, so self-preservation need never be your number one concern.

After successfully cleansing the gate across two in-game nights and three days, the site transformed into a new basecamp for the party. From here, your hero can be modified and upgraded, though the demo didn’t present much opportunity to explore these systems.

The next level was a simple boss fight against a large demon, this time taking place in one small circular arena. There were no coins to collect, just one small pool granted at the start with four villagers to spend on kitting them out for battle. The princess stayed in a fixed spot here, and the objective was simply to kill the huge beast before it could make its way to her.

Deeply weird, right? Here’s the thing though, I really enjoyed playing it.

Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess might genuinely be the least commercial game I’ve played from a AAA publisher this console generation. It’s a truly distinct mashup of several game genres wrapped up in an extremely Japanese aesthetic. 

I have no clue whatsoever how Capcom are going to market it, but I sure hope that they figure out how, because this deeply specific oddball of a game deserves some love for its originality if nothing else. Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess is launching day one on Game Pass, and I highly encourage subscribers to give it a shot.

Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess is scheduled to release on July 19th on PC, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, and PlayStation 4.

Jam Walker is a games and entertainment journalist from Melbourne, Australia. They hold a bachelor's degree in game design from RMIT but probably should have gotten a journalism one instead. You can find them talking entirely too much about wrestling on Twitter @Jamwa