What do you get when you mix a relatively unknown comic IP with classic JRPG fight styles, gorgeous cartoon art, and fun dungeon based mechanics? Battle Chasers: Nightwar is the answer, and now it has been released I can finally say, it’s kind of wonderful.
I wouldn’t blame you for having not heard of Battle Chasers before. It was a reasonably popular comic in the early 2000s, but I had never heard of it until I checked out a preview build earlier this year. This works in a weird way for the context of the game, as the excellent characters and world have already been built, but going into the game blind gives the feel of a new and unique IP.
After their airship is shot down by pirates, the misfit group of heroes find themselves scattered and in need to regroup. You start with Garrison, Gully and Calibretto who need to find and regather their team. After doing so they find themselves having to defeat the big bad wizard they come across. This is the general plot, and it’s a bit meh, but that’s not what makes the game special.
The plot is laced with the characters that make the game engaging.
Each of the characters are strange and unique, and thanks to surprisingly good voice acting, interesting. Though not all the lines are voice acted, presumably due to budget, they brought the characters to life, even when they were being a bit tropey. It is these character interactions that make this long game worth sitting through until the end.
The reason it’s worth playing until the end is due to its fantastic gameplay. There are basically three phases, the first of which is its world map. I wasn’t a fan of this because it is basically a series of paths with objects, including enemies. The restricted nature of this was tedious at times, but easily worth it for what comes at the end of each path, the Dungeons.
Dungeons start off giving you a difficulty option, and choosing higher difficulties will net you harder enemies, and better loot.
Dungeons involve walking around, working with puzzles to find secrets, and defeating, or running from enemy encounters. Each character has skills able to be used in a Dungeon outside of battle giving perks, such as healing, or knocking some health off an enemy before the encounter. The Dungeons can be long slogs so you need to ensure you‘re ready for the slog, and more importantly, make sure your abilities aren’t used too early.
The Dungeons, or the rest of the game, wouldn’t be nearly as interesting without the battle system which I fell in love with quickly.
It is based around a simple turn based JRPG format. Your characters on the left, the enemies on the right and a turn bar along the side letting you know how many turns you have until an enemy attacks. This is a super easy to approach combat system that early on gives a deceptively simple impression.
What the game then does is introduce you to more and more attacks, that have their pros and cons, which will make the difference in battle. Some take longer to charge, or sacrifice health, or do a small attack but give your characters buffs. Through this the game gets a lot of variety and depth, for when you want to use it.
The cherry on the top of the Battle Chasers’ cake, is the stunning art style.
The game kicks off with a cut scene that uses cells and cell shading to throw you into the story in style, and then it goes ahead and becomes more beautiful. Characters, enemies, backgrounds, and Dungeons are all wonderfully designed and animated, and a gem to look at throughout.
Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a wonderful example of what an indie dev can do with an established, albeit underground, IP. With solid and deep gameplay, stunning graphics and interesting characters, fans of turn-based RPGs would be doing themselves a disservice to miss this game.
Released: October 2017
Platforms: PlayStation 4
Genre: Action, JRPG
Developer: Airship Syndicate
Publisher: THQ Nordic</p