Indie turn-based RPGs seem to be a growing genre. Battle Chasers: Nightwar is certainly a solid take on the classic JRPG formula but does it offer an enjoyable campaign from start to finish? Enter Harm's Way and let's find out.
Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a video game revival of the late-'90s comic book Battle Chasers from Marvel veteran Joe Mad. Although I was unfamiliar with the franchise before playing this game, I'm quite captivated by its world. For starters, the cast of characters is spectacular. From the young and determined girl Gully to the massive yet kind machine Calibretto and the protective swordsman Garrison to the elderly wizard Knolan; you're bound to enjoy watching the story unfold. To help with this, the visuals are fantastic complete with gorgeous art, well-animated character models, and intricately-designed environments. The audio is superb, too, with a talented voice cast, epic soundtrack, and satisfying sound effects. Overall, the sights and sounds of Battle Chasers: Nightwar are sure to impress even the most jaded gamers right off the bat.
The campaign in Battle Chasers: Nightwar basically involves traversing an overworld map and working your way through dungeons. Both the combat and dungeon crawling aspects are handled very well. Battles are generally what you'd expect from the genre as characters take turns attacking and performing a variety of abilities which use mana. One thing that I've never seen before is the overcharge system. This allows characters to charge their mana after deploying basic actions (such as standard attacks). Although overcharge mana is lost between battles, you can take advantage of the system in order to emerge victorious without having your actual mana decrease. It's very cool stuff and adds a layer of strategy that you'll need to think about in order to overcome tougher battles.
Battle Chasers: Nightwar contains eight main dungeons to traverse. Before entering one, you can decide on the difficulty level. The higher the challenge, the more you'll be rewarded. Exploring these dungeons is super-satisfying as every action rewards you with something whether it's discovering a secret, collecting all the pieces of lore that are scattered about, or crafting a brand new weapon or piece of armour. Speaking of which, setting up your party is a rather involving and satisfying experience in itself. Aside from levelling up, you can optimize equipment, assign an array of perks to boost stats, learn and deploy field skills, amass a collection of materials for crafting, and acquire a vast armory of goodies via NPCs in the town (known as Harm's Way). On top of all this, there is plenty of extra content to discover as you play. You can find secret areas on the world map, slay optional bosses, go fishing, fill out a bestiary, and much more. There's so much to do that you'll play for hours upon hours and still discover new things.
All of that being said, I found the gameplay loop of exploring dungeons and traversing the world map to get a bit tedious after a while. The dungeons themselves are very similar, the puzzles start becoming predictable, and once you beat all of the enemies in a dungeon; running around while trying to collect the last bits of loot is mind-numbing. You'll also reach a point at about a dozen hours in when you have to grind a lot in order to simply overcome regular enemies. When you combine the monotonous nature of the gameplay with the fact that you have to grind, it's hard not to want to play something else. Finally, some of the loading screens are excessively lengthy and I had the game completely crash about ten times during my playthrough. I hope these problems get fixed soon because as it is right now, having to replay portions all over again and waiting for the long load screens while you're at it is unacceptably irritating.
Battle Chasers: Nightwar makes an awesome first impression and features solid dungeon crawling gameplay. However, the campaign gradually turns from fresh and exciting to a chore about a dozen hours in so don't expect it to be the next must-have RPG.
- + Solid turn-based battles and dungeon crawling gameplay that constantly rewards you
- + Incredible visuals and sound
- + Loads of content to discover
- - Gameplay loop starts to feel a bit hollow and tedious after a while
- - Too much grinding is required
- - Long load times / frequent crashes