Battle Chasers, as a concept, started off as a 9-issue comic by American artist Joe Madureira. Published by Wildstorm and Image Comics, the issues themselves spread over 3 years, abruptly ending in 2001 with a promise to tie up the cliffhanger left over in issue #9, the last anyone might hear from the series…
Well, until now at least. Its 2017, and Battle Chasers: Nightwar has launched as of last week, October 3rd, on Steam and PS4 consoles. Starting off as a Kickstarter project in 2015, Nightwar met it’s desired goal of $500k for production, enabling fans a continuation into the journey of Madureira’s characters. The main story revolves around Gully, a 9 year-old girl whose father, Aramus, was lost beyond the Grey Line, an impenetrable wall of mist hovering over the West Waters. All that was left behind was his magical gauntlets, a keepsake Gully arms herself with in an effort to uncover her missing father’s whereabouts with a cast of characters familiar with Aramus, including Garrison, a swordsman shaped by constant battle, and Calibretto, a war golem in-tune with nature.
I like how the game overworld is displayed in traveling from place to place. While the story guides players a certain way, the cast is still able to interact with surroundings and accessible towns in ways that are memorable to the immediate playthrough. The game recalls the player’s actions at each site; In Harm’s Way, for instance, I was given the option to knock down a sign in one of the main establishments. While no dire outcome came back to me, the occupant of the house reminded me of those actions upon returning to the area. It isn’t quite a choice system, but it is entertaining in the same way Penny Arcade’s On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness was in meaningless but fun interaction.
The dungeons spread out across the game follow a very Diablo-isc formula, in so much that each area is randomly generated and we’re afforded an overhead view of our cast as they search each environment. Within each is a decent helping of fights, puzzles, and traps to get in the player’s way. The environment’s really only gives to the audience in looks; the fights are fairly scarce over the field, keeping me wanting for more. I’m not sure if that’s a design choice, or if I’m just playing the wrong game. There is a benefit in items found scattered in area, however. Lore and story somewhat overcome my hunger for more battles, although not quite
The fights themselves follow the classic JRPG turn-based example, and very well done in that aspect. Each attack the characters use contain effects I’m not used to seeing with the usual gameplay, like Garrison’s Rallystrike, giving the entire cast haste for a few rounds till the end of battle. While not being revolutionary, it shakes up the system a bit, much to my liking.
Finally, the storytelling is a mix of comic book-bubbles and small voice-over parts for the bigger scenes. It leaves an impression simply because, along with the lore snippets left over the game’s environment, the game is doing more with less. It just feels more stylized in it’s creation, rather than the same generic RPG’s I’m used to seeing sprawled all over indie networks. The artwork itself tailors to it’s original source staked in the late 90’s, where bigger was better in terms of character models were concerned. The anime-ish touch is there in some of the animations, provided by Powerhouse Animation, a feature that is small enough to savor, allowing the rest of the story to be told by it’s surroundings.
For the $30 price tag, I really find the game enjoyable. The homages are there within each section of the game, the creators tailored the title with samples that multiple generations of gamers might recognize. Nightwar isn’t the most awe-inducing, eye-popping title players will ever encounter, but it does well for it’s fan base and reaches in order to provide an enjoyable journey for all.
Our Game-Rating for Battle Chasers: Nightwar on the PS4: 7/10
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– Reporting, from 20XX