Battle Chasers: Nightwar Review – “American JRPG”

Battle Chasers: Nightwar Review – “American JRPG”

Battle Chasers: Nightwar  is a turn-based, dungeon-crawler RPG with a modern take on the retro mechanics of the JRPGs of old. It is based on the hit comic book series, Battle Chasers  from the late 90s by Joe Madureira, who was influenced by Japanese manga upon its creation at the time.  And Nightwar  itself takes inspiration from well known JRPGs such as Final Fantasy,  Suikoden  and Chrono Trigger  among others. The game was developed by indie studio Airship Syndicate and published by THQ Nordic.

Genre:  RPG, Turn-based, Dungeon-crawler
Developed by:  Airship Syndicate
Published by:  THQ Nordic
Release Date:  3 Oct, 2017
Platforms:  PlayStation 4,  Xbox One,  Windows,  Mac,  Linux,  Nintendo Switch
Website:  http://www.battlechasers.com/

Battle Chasers: Nightwar – Review

  • Classic turn-based combat inspired by the console RPG greats, with a unique overcharge mana system and incredible Battle Bursts.
  • Beautiful, randomly-generated dungeons loaded with traps, puzzles, secrets and loot.
  • Explore an overworld peppered with hidden dungeons, rare bosses and randomly appearing friends and foes.
  • Action oriented, randomly-generated dungeons loaded with traps, puzzles and secrets. Use each hero’s unique dungeon skills to survive
  • Build your adventuring party by choosing three of six available heroes from the classic Battle Chasers comic series, each with unique abilities, perks, items and dungeon skills
  • Dive into the deep crafting system, using the unique ingredient-overloading system to create epic items!

Story & Setting

Battle Chasers: Nightwar‘s  plot revolves around a girl named Gully who discovers a pair of powerful magical gauntlets, which once belonged to her father who mysteriously vanished years prior. The gauntlets themselves happen to be sought after artifacts, making Gully a target for enemies. To her aid, comes a colorful cast of characters that include a wise magician, a mech with a heart, a criminal and a broken sellsword.

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Whom, together with Gully, go on a journey to find her missing father. But things soon go awry when their airship is attacked, crash landing on a mysterious island filled with inhospitable residents. In this land they’re stranded on, is then revealed to be the ‘Creasant Isle’, home to an enormous reserve of Mana. And on top of being targets for the gauntlets, these heroes will have to keep watch for other, more worrying forces descending on the isle.

Though featuring mostly the same characters, fans might be disappointed to find that this game is not a continuation of the Battle Chasers  comic, but rather a spin-off with a whole new plot, set in a new world. The cast themselves are quite the endearing bunch and charms you with their personalities. Particularly Calibretto, the ancient golem of war.

While the overbearing plot of “go stop the baddies”  appear trite, Nightwar  does inject enough twist and turns to keep your attention. And speaking of twists, conventional RPG tropes have been reversed in this indie title. The aforementioned hulking mech, Calibretto, is actually one of the healers in the game, while Gully with the gauntlets, takes on the tank role.

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Gameplay

Just like the games it set out to be, combat in Nightwar  plays much like your standard turn-based RPG. With each side having a team of 3 members, exchanging attacks and abilities. An interesting battle mechanic is the ‘Overcharge’ system. Essentially being an extra pool of man on top  of your regular pool of mana.

But why have this? Well, it turns out that your heroes have a small pool of innate mana, and this is quite prevalent throughout the entire game. The Overcharge mechanic offsets this, but with the trade-off that it can’t be stored outside of battle. This encourages you to be strategic with how, what and when you should use your abilities. This adds a layer of depth and challenge for an intense and exciting battle. And managing to pull off a come back to then annihilate your foes, gives immense thrill.

Should you continue to chuck basic attacks in hopes of getting enough points to unleash that one ability? Or go with whatever you have to save your hide?

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The game features a total of 8 dungeons which are procedurally generated and filled with loot, with its layout shifting as your re-set and re-enter the area. Within them also contain puzzles to solve as you go along your way. These should keep things interesting if not for the unfortunate drawback of farming/grinding becoming somewhat of a chore, especially on later sections where the difficulty ramps up and you need the levels.

One of the reasons is the lack of enemy variety in the game, making you feel like you’ve seen it all. And add to the fact that dungeons are massive areas where you can run into the same ragtag group for little variation in EXP, slowing the pace further. Another would be that benched party members won’t gain experience points unless they’re actively out on the field.

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Outside of the dungeons, you’re presented with a nice looking Overworld map. This is where you’ll be traversing between the various regions and subregions in Nightwar.  And scattered throughout are an assortment of items, which you can then use to upgrade your abilities. There are also landmarks such as fountains to replenish your mana and plenty of encounters between you and your destination.

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Audio & Visual

Starting a new game, Nightwar  immediately pulls you in with its highly-produced opening animation, leaving you hyped and pumped up for the adventure that you’ll inevitably crash land in. From there, you’ll notice that the game is certainly quite the looker, and adorns the gorgeous art-style of its source material well. The visual assets on the character models are colorful, vibrant and polished.

While environments in the dungeons set the stage by showcasing meticulous detail all throughout. If anything, the art direction somewhat resembles that of Torchlight  and League of Legends.  But overall, it’s a very pretty title to look at.

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Audio on the other hand is fantastic. The soundtrack is a joy to listen and is varied enough in style to keep you engrossed to the point that some tunes will still ring in your head long after you’ve played. A good example would be to just listen to the animation’s track. Giving a late 90s to early 2000s vibe with the melodic composition and the buffet of layered instruments (think Linkin Park).

8.1
Summary: Despite the drawback of potentially becoming a grindfest, Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a fun and challenging old-school RPG with an engaging combat mechanic. In addition to being a feast for your eyes and ears. And regardless on how you view grinding, it's still worth a play when you get the chance.
Story & Setting (7.9)
Gameplay (7.7)
Audio & Visual (9)
Replayability (7.4)
Pricepoint (8.4)
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