Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess is a game that defies conventional genre

One of the hardest parts about being a genre site is when we have to make a call whether a game is enough of an "RPG" to cover it; and Capcom's upcoming Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess is a perfect example of this. We don't know what a "Kagura Action Strategy" game even means, but during our session with Capcom during Summer Game Fest we had the chance to get hands-on with Path of the Goddess prior to launch, and while we're still unsure just how much it matches our scope, we think it's interesting enough to merit a look.

On a basic level, players take control of Soh as he guides the Maiden through each stage in order to cleanse the mountain of Defilement, which is spread by the Seethe. The Maiden's dance can purify the Torii gates from which the Seethe invade the material world, but Soh will have to carve a literal path free of Defilement for the Maiden to reach her destination. To do so costs the same resources which are used to assign freed villagers Roles, as well as to upgrade those same Roles in-between stages.

Path of the Goddess is a game that wears many hats - or masks, if you were. On one hand, it's part Tower Defence; on the other, it's an isometric action game. As you progress through the game you unlock different masks which can assign different roles to rescued Villagers in stages; each Role has a number of abilities, and can be permanently upgraded. Cleansing all of the defilement in a stage will unlock accessories you can equip to Soh to boost his abilities; more slots for Soh's equipment and accessories are unlocked as you progress through the game.

It's difficult if not impossible for Soh to carve a path for the maiden as soon as he enters a stage; but even if he can, it takes time for the Maiden to dance her way to the Torii gate, and you'll want to expend the same resources on villagers, to repair equipment and more. Maybe you'll want to take a little more time in a level to gather extra currency to upgrade your units later; though it's unclear how useful that might actually be, considering that players can replay previous stages.

Players set up a path for the maiden during the day, while also managing their preparations for the Seethe's eventual assault once the sun goes down. It's an interesting gameplay loop; while Soh is plenty capable on his own, villagers are absolutely a boon to have in case any stragglers break through your defense. Your number one job is to protect the maiden, until the sun rises and she can continue her dance after all. While the obvious comparison point are tower defense games, it doesn't feel like that really encompasses everything the game is going for.

There's another wrinkle I'm curious about, too; dreadfully little of the story was highlighted during our session. We saw a brief glimpse of it right at the start of the demo, but to say that the plot feels deliberately understated feels like pointing out the obvious. Still - I do wonder where the game's story will go, what the connection between Soh and the Maiden is, and what might be causing the Defilement to spread so freely. The game is delightfully weird, and it feels confident in what it wants to be; I want more games like this, especially from larger developers.

Is Path of the Goddess an RPG, then? By conventional metrics, probably not, but it's not like the game is sticking to any specific conventions. Personally speaking, I love when Capcom gets weird; Exoprimal was one of my favorite games last year, and seeing them once again try something completely different has me fascinated. Even if it's not quite an RPG, it definitely feels like there's something here to appeal to RPG fans. We'll have to see how the full game stacks up come launch, but for now - we can't wait to play more.

Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess launches on July 19 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and PC (Steam, MS Store). The game will also be available day-1 on Game Pass.