Battle Chasers: Nightwar -- Post Modern RPG
Published by THQ Nordic, Battle Chasers: Nightwar (BC:N) is based on the 1990's comic book series of the same name, created by Joe Madureira and Munier Sharrieff. BC:N is set in a fantasy world featuring your run of the mill monsters, magic, and some good old fashioned mayhem. The game stars the rag-tag team of Garrison -- the veteran, Gully -- the team's young hero, Calibretto -- a robotic monk, Knolan -- the group's resident wizard, Red Monika -- a bounty hunter, and Alumon -- a demon hunter.
As a fan of RPGs, I have to confess -- I find it hard to get excited for them any more. The more familiar they happen to be, the more been there, done that they're likely to feel.
So when I had the opportunity to play the Airship Syndicate developed Battle Chasers: Nightwar, I actually got really excited. But does this modern RPG do enough for the genre to warrant a playthrough? Read on to find out.
Unlike many other RPGs, BC:N has the added benefit of drawing from its comic book origins, and serves as a continuation of the original run. It also helps that one of the comic book's creators penned the game. Even though the game treads familiar ground in it's fantasy setting, the plot feels very tight and focused, which can most likely be attributed to Maduriera's involvement as creative director. And whilst the story doesn't necessarily break any new ground, what does make it stand out is it's amazing cast of characters.
Battle Chasers: Nightwar is very much the tale of our heroes keeping the peace in a not so peaceful land. The narrative also delves into the heroes' motivations and weaves stories pertaining to each character throughout the game. One of the most important characters is Gully. She isn't even 10 years old, yet she's out bashing demons in the face. The characters often attempt to protect her, but due to her connection with her father's magical gauntlets, she sometimes comes across as a possible threat to them and even herself. So the discourse comes thick and fast as the group attempts to deal with this.
Of course, the rest of the gang have their own interesting stories as well. Garrison is attempting to follow a path towards redemption, Calibretto has to balance the fact he's a pacifist and a former death machine, and so on.
Rather than subject you to all of this in long winded cut-scenes, the game presents them in bite-sized intervals. This happens in the world map, dungeons, and at inns when you rest. This is a refreshing way to experience a story in contrast to the way most other games present theirs -- in a movie-like approach which gets old fast if not done well. I guess what I'm trying to say, is that I feel that Battle Chasers strikes a great balance between telling a story and letting a player experience it themselves.
Reclaiming My Time
From a gameplay perspective, Battle Chasers: Nightwar is built with the player's time in mind. In comparison to a lot of RPGs that tend to fall flat in this regard, BC:N allows you to play at a pace all your own. You can save anywhere and then continue whenever you want. They've effectively erased the biggest problem I have with RPGs -- having to set aside a lot of time. You can play this game for just 30 minutes or for hours if you'd like.
The game takes places in a seamless overworld. Here you can see enemies to fight, towns that you can head to, and dungeons you can traverse. Dungeons are fully 3D areas that provide players with a challenge. Before entering a dungeon, the game will ask you to choose between normal, hard, and very hard and you will be shown the prize for clearing each respective difficulty. This side steps the need to replay the game on a tougher settings later on. Just make sure you can handle the tougher difficulties.
Although you can go pretty much anywhere you want, you are provided with some basic direction in the form of map markers and quest objectives. You can take detours, sure, but thanks to the map markers and so on, you will never feel lost.
A Call To Arms
Combat is turn based but not in the traditional sense -- it's much more fast paced. There are plenty of strategies you can use with your party, which consists of three from a possible six heroes, so you can account for a range of situations. Although you could just ignore those more tactical decisions and stick with your favorites, that could make getting through the game a little harder than you'd like. You can also use character specific skills. For example, Calibretto can heal the group using some Mana and Garrison can dash for a short amount of time.
If you maximize your resources and plan accordingly, battles can be over pretty quickly. But's that's a two way street. If you find yourself fighting a much tougher foe and don't stay on your toes, you're dead.
Character customization gets rather deep, featuring a variety of armor, skills, and weapons. I won't bog you down with the finer details, but rest assured -- there's a lot to do.
The Sounds of Battle and Maddening Art
The game looks and sounds excellent and the art design really stands out. Madureira and the development team were really able to make characters pop in and out of battle. The battle animations are also both lively and expressive.
The sounds accompanying the game are intricate and visceral. From the foot steps of your heroes to the clashing of steel, the sound design is implemented flawlessly. The soundtrack of the game is more than just a standard fantasy score -- it has subtle themes that play in different environments during your travels. This includes grandiose battle themes and exciting sequential themes. Lastly, the the voice work in the game is actually quite good too.
My only complaint revolves around it's difficulty. You'll definitely need some familiarity with this type of turn-based RPG to do well. There are times where battles will be tough as nails and you need to keep your wits about you. It's far from impossible to beat, but if you don't pay attention you'll be regularly treated to a trip to the gameover screen.
Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a special game. It's built from the ground up with modern sensibilities and has as much charm and personality as a traditional RPG. Battle Chasers is a turn based RPG in itself but forgoes a lot of what they're known for to offer an exciting new experience.
Fans of RPGs can find Battle Chasers: Nightwar on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, and MAC. So you really don't have any excuse not to play this game as it's on every modern console and PC.