Occasionally here at Player2.net.au, we will play something that deserves your attention but probably doesn’t need a full review written for it. Be it DLC for the latest AAA title, a little indie game or even an Android/iOS title. We play these titles for a blockbusting amount of time (2 – 5 hours) and report back to you the reader on what we found. So grab your popcorn and settle in for the latest episode of Blockbuster Gaming.+
Blockbuster Gaming – Battle Chasers: Nightwar
PC, PS4, XB1
I’ve had a deep love of Japanese Role-Playing Games (JRPGs) for many years, if you at all followed our recent JRPGJuly month-long feature then you’ll know that the genre has been incredibly prominent through many phases of my life. In recent years, their influence waned as the gap between significant releases grew larger and the genre began to deviate from the formula I adored, however some studios have recently sought to revive the older, glory days of the genre. Bridging the gap between the old, and the new takes on the old are the likes of Child of Light, I Am Setsuna, and the topic of this review – Battle Chasers: Nightwar.
Rising from the ashes of Vigil Games (the developers of Darksiders 1/2) came the Airship Syndicate and with the help from several thousand fans, and $850,000+ on Kickstarter the dream that was Battle Chasers: Nightwar became reality. Now available for all to consume, Battle Chasers: Nightwar reconnects with the roots of the JRPG genre whilst embracing a number of current day trends to entice newer audiences, and deliver a stylish and gripping experience.
Based upon the original Battle Chasers comic series, but spinning its own tale, Nightwar thrusts you immediately into the action and keeps you on the unrelenting narrative rollercoaster throughout. I personally entered Nightwar without any prior knowledge of the Battle Chasers series, but quickly felt at home due to some seamless character introductions, and a clear indication that despite being dropped into the middle of the Battle Chasers story, requisite prior-reading was unnecessary. Nightwar makes a lot out of very little in the narrative space and kept me engaged throughout.
While a throwback to classic JRPGs, I certainly wasn’t expecting node-based traversal, as well as loot and upgrade systems to be piled on top of the tried and true in Nightwar, but despite some inconsistency in execution, these serve as excellent additions. The star of the show is the Overcharge system; with each basic attack you perform, your pool of red mana fills, and this Overcharge can be used in favour of your standard pool. MP is often in short supply, so careful management of your mana pool is often important as the crawl through a lengthy dungeon continues to wear you down. The game will take you through eight impressively designed dungeons on your quest to completion and throughout you’ll tackle a whole host of devilish monsters, but of unfortunately it is upon reaching the third dungeon where things take a nasty turn.
Imbalance is quite an issue in Nightwar, with random difficulty spikes kicking in at random times, but once you’ve followed through on a significant level grind, the bosses at the end of the dungeon are suddenly a walk in the park. If you want to level up quickly then your best bet is to replay previous dungeons but even then, the grind can be several hours long and not particularly stimulating. Adding to the problem are some particularly long, and often quite intrusive load-times which seem to emerge at the most inopportune of moments. Often they’ll strike when you would expect but then in others situations they emerge after you’ve confronted an enemy and all of a sudden you’re stuck waiting while the battle loads – it’s quite frustrating.
Imbalance and lengthy load screens aside, Battle Chasers: Nightwar does some excellent things, the puzzles are sublime and differ each time you enter a dungeon because the dungeons themselves are procedurally developed. Combining the many items of equipment with the correct perks, skills and status effects is a learning curve at first, but as you grow more comfortable with these systems, you’ll quickly see the cross-pollination between each of these systems making for a cohesive, ever-evolving combat experience.
Nightwar opts to use the same stunning visual aesthetic that worked so well for the Darksiders games and it again shines the case of Battle Chasers. Rich, vibrant colours gel wonderfully well with impressive design philosophies of The Airship Syndicate and result in a gorgeous product. When you add this fantastic visual style to a wonderfully scored soundtrack that every bit feels like a modern refinement on past genius as is minces strings with medieval chants to create some haunting and exciting themes.
While there are certainly some load time and balancing issues, there’s also a great number of implemented systems that come together to create a magnificent playing experience that’s both immediately accessible and boasting incredible depth. Throw on top of this systemic brilliance, an engaging plot, gorgeous visuals and a powerful soundtrack make Battle Chasers: Nightwar a flawed, but worthwhile experience.