Review: Battle Chasers: Nightwar (Computer)
- Release Date (NA): October 3, 2017
- Release Date (EU): October 3, 2017
- Publisher: THQ Nordic
- Developer: Airship Syndicate
- Genres: Turn-based RPG
- ESRB Rating: Teen
- PEGI Rating: Sixteen years and older
- Also For: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Single playerLocal MultiplayerOnline MultiplayerCo-operative
For those unacquainted with the series, Battle Chasers is an American fantasy comic book series by Joe Madureira. It features a quintet of main characters including nine year old Gully who inherited her missing father’s magical gloves, an artifact much coveted by her detractors. Helping her out is five hundred year old wizard Knolan and his outlaw, kind-hearted war golem aid Calibretto, to look for her father, Aramus. Joining the crew is Aramus’ friend and legendary swordsman Garrison, and the latter’s scantily-clad bounty hunter friend Red Monika. Their stories all intertwine when powerful villains breakout from a high-security prison and they try to save the day.
While it was quite popular when it launched in the late 1990s, it was also notorious for its extreme scheduling, with an average of about six months between issues. To top it all, the series ended up with a total of nine volumes in four years in a cliffhanger ending that was never concluded and Joe Madureira left the comic book industry to pursue a career as a video game designer.
In 2015, Madureira started a Kickstarter campaign for a turn-based role-playing game that serves as a continuation and jumping-on point of the original comic book series. That’s how Battle Chasers: Nightwar came to be!
I would strongly suggest to get a hold of the comic books so that you can get a general feel of the universe the title is based on if you want to try this game out. But of course, the game can also be enjoyed without prior knowledge of the comics as it offers a quick recap before delving into the current adventure.
In Battle Chasers: Nightwar, we’re reunited with Gully & co. heading towards the mysterious Crescent Isle where Knolan planned to study more about Mana, when they are attacked in their airship and the group of adventurers is scattered.
Shortly after, you are given control of Gully who is found stranded on the Crescent Isle following their airship’s crash and is soon joined by Calibretto and Garrison. Together, the band go on a search for their other team members, and in so doing, come across some sinister characters...
With an artstyle fitting for a comic book adaptation, Battle Chasers: Nightwar plays like an old-school turn-based RPG. Maybe a bit too old-school to everyone’s liking…
The battles are a make-or-break deal. Either you’ll love it for being hard on the player, requiring you to grind and level up or you’ll hate it for thinking that we’d have outgrown grinding in this era. The difficulty curve is quite high, and feel poorly implemented. The enemies, even the regular ones, tend to deal quite significant damage and you’ll need to have recourse to other actions than mere attacks to get the better of them, even for the more regular encounters.
Thankfully, Battle Chasers: Nightwar has a feature-rich gameplay to come to your aid. While the turn-based battle system is pretty regular, to execute it well, you’ll have to make full use of its options. Your regular attacks will help fill up the Ovecharge pool which can be used instead of Mana and for bonus effects in certain abilities. Since MP is quite the commodity, you’ll have to manage your resources well and mindfully execute the use of Overcharge and/or mana for abilities. This adds a layer of engagement in every battle, from the regular ones to the Boss battles. Additionally, each character has a special skill that affects enemies within dungeons like ignition and ambush. But you’ll also want to defend and heal your allies whenever possible to parry those strong enemy blows.
The game furthermore features some customization options for your party. New characters join the party roster from which you can choose to form a trio of your liking. For each member, you can shop for a variety of new gear and/or trade your old ones for gold. The latter is quite hard to come by and selling your old equipments will earn you a pittance. Moreover, the more tempting armors are often locked to a higher level than you actually are. Further customization is available in the crafting and enchanting system to pump up your party members’ abilities on top of the Perk points gained by leveling up.
However, even if you have recourse to the good ol’ grinding to progress in a certain area (and you will have to do that quite often), the next major one will present itself with a whole other difficulty level. So the overall challenge feels poorly optimized rather than actually offering a challenging experience.
You’ll also have plenty to explore on the map and in dungeons, where you’ll have several battle encounters, exploration and side-quests to take on that’ll get you additional hours on top of the main game’s 25+ hour length with the merry bunch of diverse characters to keep you entertained.
For such a lengthy game, the plot feels lacking at times. Often you’ll progress for a few hours without meaningful exchange between the main cast and most of their interaction will take place through idle conversations while resting at an inn and not in the eight main procedurally-generated dungeons of the game. So while the latter have been prettily rendered, they feel lifeless other than the regular enemy walking around or guarding an area and some puzzle sequences. There is not much to write home about the latter either as they are mostly stuffs that you’ve probably come across before: memorizing patterns, flipping switches and feel like a desperate attempt to give some unique personality the dungeons.
Battle Chasers: Nightwar - Trailer
+ Feature-rich gameplay
+ Interesting Overcharge mechanic addition
+ Artstyle that replicates the feel of the comic
- Dull plot at times with little character progression
- Poorly optimized difficulty curve
- Rely on grinding quite often
- Unmemorable dungeons
- Unsatisfying upgrade system
I’ve found that the artstyle, soundtrack and environment reproduce a faithful depiction of the general feeling the original comics tried to portray. However, the plot and character development could use some polishing.
A feature-rich, old school turn-based RPG combat mechanic not without issues.
The main game itself is pretty huge and on top of that you’ll have the option to take on side quests, explore dungeons for treasures and grind, a lot.
out of 10
(not an average)
Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a proper adaptation of the comic that it is based on as far as artstyle, soundtrack and environments are concerned. However, as a lengthy, old school turn-based RPG and a narrative perspective, it is not without issues.