Japanese Folklore Meets Real-Time Strategy in the Boldest Xbox Partner Preview Reveal

Torii defense.

screenshot from Kunitsu-Gami Path of the Goddess

Upcoming action game Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess first turned heads with its striking but not terribly informative reveal trailer at Summer Game Fest 2023. While its Japanese folklore-inspired aesthetics were as pretty as they were creepy, it didn’t say much about how the game would play. Developer Capcom later shared that it’s a “strategy/action game experience,” which still didn’t tell us much because that’s not really a genre. But eight months later, an Xbox Partner Preview stream finally showed us what Kunitsu-Gami is all about — and it’s both stranger and way more interesting than I would have guessed.

It would have been easy enough to watch the game’s initial reveal and come away thinking it was a pretty straightforward action game. In a stream with plenty of interesting reveals, Kunitsu-Gami’s inventive combination of hack-and-slash combat with surprising tower defense elements made it the star of the showcase for me.

Kunitsu-Gami’s new gameplay trailer shows its intriguing blend of action and strategy.

According to an Xbox blog post, “The story begins when the legendary Mt. Kafuku is covered by an evil defilement and the 12 masks, including their special powers, are stolen.” I hate it when that happens. In order to restore Mt. Kafuku, a shrine maiden named Yoshiro needs to perform a ritual at each affected village to fight back this defilement. Unfortunately, the yokai (supernatural beings from Japanese mythology) responsible for said defilement aren’t too happy with it being cleansed and will fight back to prevent Yoshiro from doing her work.

That’s where Kunitsu-Gami’s protagonist, Soh, comes in. Where Yoshiro is skilled in mystical arts, Soh has the simpler ability to whack yokai with swords until they disappear. Soh and Yoshiro don’t fight alone, though.

Kunitsu-Gami takes place on a cycle with distinct day and night phases. During the day, Soh rescues villagers from the yokai’s corruption, allowing him to recruit them for his army. Using the aforementioned magical masks, Soh can then imbue these villagers with power, which turns them into capable fighters as well. Different masks correspond to different types of characters, so you’ll be able to choose whether a rescued villager turns into a front-line fighter, an archer, or something else. We see villagers wielding spears, axes, and bows in the trailer, but presumably each of the 12 stolen masks will correspond to a different character class.

Soh and Yoshiro get time to build up their defenses before the nightly yokai onslaught.


At night, Yoshiro needs to perform a ritual at the village’s torii gate, and you have some time to build up some defenses beforehand. Once the Sun sets, yokai will invade the village to interrupt Yoshiro’s ritual, and it’s up to Soh and the recruited villagers to stop them. As you slash away at yokai in combat, you’ll also be able to call upon these reinforcements and issue commands for where to position themselves and how to fight back.

The trailer shows boss battles against some intimidating ogres and a giant writhing spider alongside the waves of smaller enemies typical of tower defense games. We also see some combat on a boat and a bit of daytime exploration, so it seems these strategy segments will have some variety to break them up.

Hordes of smaller yokai are led by menacing bosses.


One thing that hasn’t changed since Kunitsu-Gami’s first reveal is that it looks stunning. In infected villages, supernatural structures plague the landscape, with giant, gnarled hands gripping buildings and strange growths covering the ground. The yokai themselves and imaginatively designed, with intricate patterns adorning both Soh’s clothing and the larger yokai bosses. Some of Soh’s abilities draw colorful trails in the air with each sword swing, as if they’re cutting through the veil to the yokai’s own dimension.

Even with this new insight into Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess, we’re still missing one crucial bit of information — its release date. Given how unique the game looks, it’s likely there are still more surprises for it in store before that comes along. It’s currently slated for sometime in 2024, so hopefully we’ll be diving into its inventive action/strategy hybrid before too long.

Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess launches on PC and Xbox in 2024.

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