Battle Chasers: Nightwar Review
Disclaimer: PC Aficionado purchased this game for the purpose of this review.
Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a turnbased combat, dungeon crawler, developed by Airship Syndicate, and published by THQ Nordic. Releasing on Oct 3, for PC, PS4, XboxOne and Nintendo Switch, this RPG was everything I could ever dream of.
The story follows a group of adventures who have been sworn to protect a young girl. The actual plot can be considered as quite basic. It’s your typical hunt down the big bad guy in the sky, however a few hitches along the way, and quite an epic finale to the game made the plot comparable to other games in this genre.
I was a little disappointed to see that there is very little in terms of character dialog. You only really get to see glimpses into the character’s emotion when you happen to rest in an inn. It is only then that you get to see some true character shine through the otherwise stereotypical game characters we have all grown certain opinions of. The dialog that is seen in those moments are both comical at times, and pull through some sort of backstory to what has happened between this group of adventurers.
If story isn’t your forte though, you can still get just enough enjoyment out of Battle Chasers if you chose to skip it entirely. It’s not as if quest objectives are hidden away in lines of dialog, in fact, all quest objectives have a big marker on the map telling you which way to go, so you don’t have to pay that much attention at all.
Battle Chasers looks absolutely stunning. The beautifully drawn world, and vibrant colour choices really pop out of the screen at you. The character sprites and 2D animations are also carefully drawn too. Whilst a couple of the female characters have your standard cringe revealing wardrobe choices that would be any 15 year olds dream, the rest of the cast look impressive. The art style reminded me of the likes of Bastion and Transistor, so if you digged the look of those games, Battle Chasers will certainly tickle your fancy there.
Apart from looking brilliant, Battle Chasers also ran perfectly too. Reaching a steady 60 FPS when playing on 1440p, with the graphics on high at all times. Controller input is also absolutely fine too. I played primarily on keyboard and mouse, but if you choose to swap controls on the fly, the in game prompts also change too which is always a welcome addition. I preferred the use of mouse though, as it allowed me to choose my options in battle much quicker than controller – even though there is no timers involved, it was still my preferred method.
If a character has any sort of importance to the main plot, then it will have voice acting. Everyone’s dialog is extremely high quality, and the attention to detail that has gone into the voice acting really does the game justice. When your group of adventurers are in a cave, the voice acting has an echo on, it was really these small adjustments to the dialog which made the overall production values of the title skyrocket.
At it’s core, Battle Chasers is a lite version of a Final Fantasy turn based combat game combined with the likes of Darkest Dungeon. With combat scenes played from a side view, with a team of three adventurers at your disposal. About half way through the game, you unlock new characters for you to mix and match in your team, but ultimately your party of three will consist of three class types. A tank style character, a damage dealer, and a support class. Of course you don’t need to follow the classic RPG route of having these classes in your party, but the advantages are obvious if you do. Each of the main characters in your party can specialise their skills in two different specs. For instance Calibretto can either focus on being a damage dealer, or more on the support side.
What surprised me, was that you could actually change these specialisations on the fly out of combat though. This is done through the game’s perk system. Each time you level up (I think it was past level 6?), you gain a Perk point. You can allocate those perk points into different skills. Say you have 10 perk points. You will have a choice of around 8 skills. Maybe the higher end skills cost 6 perk points, it means you can either use two of the perk points which cost 2 points each, or one which cost 4. As long as you don’t go over the maximum perk points, you can min max your perks till your hearts content. If you don’t see a skill that really benefits your playstyle in your main tree, then you can also spill over into the other spec tree too. This really allows you to build the character that you want to play.
Battle Chasers turn based combat is simple to grasp, but can also be very hard to master as you reach the more advanced levels. Each character has regular abilities which cost no mana, in fact your regular abilities raise your Overcharge points. Overcharge is essentially mana, but can only be used in the current fight, so you really can just use it when you please without any disadvantage. You also have a regular mana pool, to use on Abilities. These abilities, much like regular attacks, can consist of damage spells, support, and defensive skills.
Finally, there is your final abilities, called Burst skills. Burst points are gained by carrying out almost any action, whether it be attacking, casting a spell or taking damage. Once you have reached full burst points, you may use what is essentially an ultimate ability that will more or less turn the tide of a battle in your favour. Throughout the course of the game, each of your characters will unlock three burst skills. The higher end skills require more burst points, but obviously have much more advantages over say, the first burst skills you unlock.
Those burst skills don’t always match up with your characters spec. For instance I had Calibretto as my support class, but his second burst ability is an AOE flamethrower spell, which means he can also help out on the damage side too. More often than not though, you’ll want to use burst spells which compliment your characters role though, as gear also plays a part in Battle Chasers combat.
I often say, any game is instantly made better with loot. Just look at my previous reviews, I. Love. Loot. Battle Chasers instantly won my heart over when I found out I can equipped different pieces of gear for all my characters. I think it’s from my time in WoW. I love the thrill of grinding for more equipment and Battle Chasers certainly quenched my thirst for gear. The gearing system is quite simple really though. With only a few stats for you to contend with, it is normally a case of making sure you improve the correct stats more than anything else. Your tank will want to focus on stamina and defence. Support will need haste stats, and damage will need, well attack power and damage points. It’s not hard, but there was enough there to let me tinker around with all of the different gear drops to ensure my characters were wearing the optimum set at all times.
Like I said, the combat is turn based, but the order of the turn will be based on your characters haste stats. It’s important to note that also some abilities require a turn to “charge up”, and this is the same for your enemies too. You can easily see the order of turns on the left hand side of the screen, as character portraits show the order of attacks. This order can change slightly though, for instance one of your characters may get stunned, which will cause them to miss a turn for example. This method does allow you to plan a couple turns ahead though. For instance if you can see an enemy is almost dead, maybe you don’t need to heal up your party members just yet, since you see your enemy isn’t going to attack until the rest of your party has struck, so you can focus you turn on just finishing off the foe.
Even though the game mechanics do get quite complex towards the later stages of the game, and the difficulty does ramp up quite significantly once you get past level 10, I would still say Battle Chasers would be a really good game to start anyone off on this genre with. Even though the tutorial system could probably be improved slightly, as right now it’s just a case of an in game manual, and a few in game prompts; it does it’s job though. I only had to refer to the in game manual once to figure out what an icon on my map meant, the rest of the game was quite easily explained to me from the in game pop ups.
The game will take around 20 hours to complete. There is definitely room for a second playthrough if you want to experience the game with maybe a different party combination, or maybe you want to challenge yourself a bit more on the higher difficulty dungeon range. I could quite easily see myself putting upwards of forty hours into Battle Chasers, with ease. A second playthrough may not take quite as long, but will still garner the same enjoyment out of the gameplay mechanics.
Battle Chasers: Nightwar took me by surprise. I had not really followed the development of the game, but when I saw it on Steam earlier this week, I knew right away that this was going to be my sort of game. I was not wrong, and I had one of the best gaming experiences in recent memory. The combination of a gorgeous art style, stellar voice acting, and down right fun gameplay that left me wanting more, easily makes Battle Chasers one of my games of the year thus far. An excellent RPG that ticks all the right boxes.