During the late 1990’s, Comic Book Writer/Artist Joe Madureira created a new sword and sorcery series called Battle Chasers. Having previously worked as a penciler on Uncanny X-Men, Madureira channeled all of his creative energy into telling the story of several badass protagonists joining forces to protect their arcanepunk stylized world from menacing robots, grotesque werewolves, and slimy cave monsters.
Fast-forward to this week and the official release of Battle Chasers: Nightwar, Airship Syndicate’s first project, and the culmination of a successful Kickstarter campaign. Here are a few more reasons why this fun and challenging RPG rightfully deserves both your time and money.
Battle Chasers: Nightwar could be best described as a turn-based RPG rooted in heated battles and numerous dungeon explorations presented as a classic JRPG experience. The main protagonists are a legendary swordsman in Garrison, young female warrior named Gully, an outlawed war golem called Calibretto, a powerfully wisecracking wizard named Knolan, a skillful bounty hunter in Red Monika and a demon hunter named Alumon.
The story takes place shortly after our heroes are separated while attempting to explore a mysterious island referred to as the Cresent Isle. Players start out with the trio of Garrison, Gully, and Calibretto, slowly gaining access to the other characters after finding them scattered throughout the island. You’re only able to use three of six playable heroes in your party at a time but can switch them out accordingly once acquired through completing narrative-driven objectives. The campaign can take 20 plus hours to complete and a New Game+ mode is convenietly available afterward for those who want more.
The core gameplay aesthetics consist of players traversing across a map and examining various areas of interest. You can have conversations with vendors, craft items, collect loot, and defeat those who get in your way. When exploring dungeons, you can set the difficulty level and choose which combination of heroes are best suited for each adventure. As you encounter enemies on both the map and in various dungeons, a battle screen appears showing both sides in a tense face-off and the action begins once turn-based attacks are initiated.
Combat can be both tricky and rewarding in Battle Chasers: Nightwar based on how you manage your mana and health bar. Pulling off powerful attacks will earn you more XP but at the risk of losing mana. If you fail to replenish both of these bars accordingly, you may find yourself in a situation where you’ll have to engage in back-to-back fights. Once this happens, you can try fleeing from combat to regroup but this isn’t always guaranteed to work based on who you’re fighting. If you are defeated, gold will be deducted from your earnings and you’ll be sent to a nearby village inn to rest.
One of the coolest aspects of combat strategy lies within the ability for each character to use a Battle Burst attack. These special moves are built up over time and can either inflict an insane amount of damage on enemies or heal the entire party. These attacks, as well as others, can also be stacked on top of each other to take adversaries down even faster. It’s worth noting that a bestiary is also readily available to use at any time and aids players in letting them know which moves might be most effective on certain enemy types.
Not surprisingly, Battle Chasers: Nightwar looks absolutely stunning from start to finish. The entire art direction down to the painstaking detail in the character designs and rich environments beautifully illustrates all of the time and energy that Madureira and his colleagues have put into this passion project. The smart decision to merge the comic book world with RPG elements will be one of many reasons why this title will be highly regarded as a success.
Both the soundtrack and voice acting used throughout the entirety of Nightwar fit the game perfectly. There are some instances where there are text bubble discussions with no audio and other scenarios where voice dialogue takes center stage. This has been a standard practice for most RPGs over the last several years, meaning that most fans of the genre will feel right at home with this title.
With so many positives already stated, there are at least two gripes that I had with Nightwar. First and foremost, I experienced some performance issues with frame rate drops occurring during the battle engagement sequences where icons appear before each fight begins. I’m not sure if this is an issue that’s specific to the console versions of the game or just my 4-year-old PS4. While these issues were a bit bothersome for me, they in no way, shape or form take away from the overall enjoyable combat experience once the fighting has started.
However, the same statement can’t be said for the crashes I experienced during a few significant boss battles. After doing massive damage to an adversary, the game would crash and redirect me to the PlayStation dashboard with an error message. When booting up the game again, I would have to return to the previous checkpoint and start the process all over again which also proved to be frustrating. I’m not sure if everyone will experience this on their end but hopefully, a patch will be released should this become a widespread issue.
As a whole, Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a phenomenal turn-based RPG that will appeal to both new and diehard fans of either the genre and/or comic book series. Airship Syndicate has succeeded in knocking their first official video game project out of the ballpark and I’m very curious to see what’s next for them and the Battle Chasers franchise.
This review was based on a digital review copy of Battle Chasers: Nightwar for the PlayStation 4 provided by THQ Nordic.