Developed by Airship Syndicate and Published by THQ Nordic, Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a return to the classic RPG style. It features turn based combat, dungeon crawling and expansive story lore that pays homage to the JRPGs of old. It looks like your standard take RPG at first, but it’s much more than that and offers its own interesting twist on the genre.
You begin Battle Chasers: Nightwar with your classic cut scene of static images presented in a slideshow format with voiceover. Your airship gets attacked, plummets to the ground and your party is scattered. We begin as Gully, a young girl entrusted with the power of her deceased father’s gauntlets. She must find the rest of her party along the way, which has been entrusted with her protection. Battle Chasers foregoes the typical format of laying out the story at the beginning and then having you explore to find a way to overcome the villain. Instead, it uses a nice twist of leaving the story open for mystery and utilizing lore to complete it along your exploration. Notes can be found scattered in dungeons or open areas that give you an idea as to what is really going on. You should definitely take the time to read them, as the story in Battle Chasers is very involved. The lore not only completes the story, but tends to offer you hints on how to proceed as well.
What I was most impressed with is how Battle Chasers: Nightwar takes the best of both old and new style RPG along with adding its own twist to it. Newer type RPG’s have gotten away from strategy oriented, turn-based combat for more dynamic combat. They’ve instead implemented various upgrades and crafting systems to substitute for the strategy element. Battle Chasers: Nightwar utilizes both aspects, and it’s a lot better off for it. True RPG fans will appreciate the battle element, as it isn’t just turn based combat that you need to plan for.
All your typical attacks, abilities and spells are present in Battle Chasers: Nightwar. Spells use mana which can only be replenished by potions or resting at inns. Some attacks also power up your overcharge meter - and this is the best part of the game’s combat setup. Overcharge is a separate meter that gets filled by certain attacks. Your special abilities and spells draw from it first, with any leftover being pulled from mana. A strategic player will find that using attacks to generate overcharge prior to using your spells is more prudent as you end up playing with house money. With mana being so rare in the game, it is much better to conserve. You may use a spell needing 25 mana, but only use five because your overcharge meter is sitting at 20. This becomes a necessity as your progress in the game and enemies become tougher.
There’s also a new feature called Burst. This becomes available once you reach a certain level, and charges with each attack. Once it’s filled, you may use any player to trigger a super move. This includes a cut scene focused on the player using it and emphasizes their respective skill. You can unlock more as level up, and attacking isn’t always the prudent choice.
You’ll often encounter issues with games that combine elements of different aspects of the genre, as they sometimes won’t blend well. Exploration is one of these areas, and I really enjoyed the way it was set up in this game. Battle Chasers: Nightwar uses two types of traveling with both linear and free exploration. The majority of the game takes place along a grid system surrounded by 3D environment. You see enemies along the path, and you can choose to either fight them or find a way around. The battle ensues once you touch the enemy location on the map, which results in that classic screen crack followed by the battle screen.
It’s only linear to the point where you may not leave the path. There are many instances along the path, however, and each one offers a different route or sidequest possibility. Along the way you will encounter various camps, dungeons, sewers, etc that you can explore. If you choose to go in, you’ll find that the exploration becomes free roam. The enemies will attack you if you get close, but there are ways to avoid some of them as you proceed. It’s a great setup for exploration as Battle Chasers: Nightwar makes use of the best aspects of both turn-based and free roam gameplay while adding its own twist for an extra something special.
Soundtrack is usually a staple of JRPGs. Whether in battle or exploration, I’m used to hearing that catchy tune as i’m playing. Surprisingly, that is absent Battle Chasers: Nightwar - but only partly. Combat has incredible music, sound effects and character sounds - I have zero complaints with it. The exploration aspect is quite different. Whether in the linear aspect or dungeon areas, the soundtrack is quite minimal. While there is some music, the low amount stood out as it’s such a large part of the game. It didn’t take away from gameplay as there are many things to do and the game is so deep in lore, but it would have been a bit more enjoyable with a deeper soundtrack.
In terms of art style, Battle Chasers: Nightwar draws its inspiration from the 90’s comic of the same name on which it is based. Just as with exploration and battle, the developer uses its own combination to make it stand out. We get 3D rendered characters and movements draped in comic book style colors. Not only do they stand out from their design, but they are accentuated by their vibrant colors.
When I first heard this was going to be turn-based combat type of game, I made sure to keep an eye out for the one thing that can kill the fun in this type of game: repetitiveness. I’m a side quest whore. I tend to do all of the side missions I can prior to story missions so I can upgrade my characters appropriately for the larger boss fights. I was really happy to see that the character progression takes place at such a proportional rate. The enemy difficulty isn’t drastically increased, which can be the case in some JRPGs. This can be time consuming in some games as you’ll find yourselves simply running in circles in order to trigger battles for XP. This could have been a game killer for Battle Chasers: Nightwar, especially considering most battles take place along the linear portion of gameplay and are not random. Everything blends so well in the game though, and it’s an incredibly well-rounded RPG.
Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a true RPG that all fans of the genre will appreciate. You’ll get a few dozen hours of gameplay featuring great strategy, art and exploration and top notch story lore. Overall, when you combine everything involved, Battle Chasers: Nightwar had me pleasantly surprised, and is the RPG that all fans of the genre need to be playing.