Battlechasers: Nightwar is a great RPG. That needs to be said straight off the bat. There is a ton of content here, a robust skill and perk system, side-quests that involve hunting hulking beasts and slippery fish, great voice acting and a stellar look. This is by far the best JRPG I’ve played in a long while. It’s too bad that this greatness is marred by a wildly fluctuating difficulty level and some technical problems that crop up more often than I would have liked.
Story & Flow:
The story runs parallel to the comic book the game is based on, but if you’ve never heard of or read the book, don’t worry, it’s not required reading. You’ll be able to follow the story easily by just booting up the game and diving in, no reading required.
The gist of the story follows a girl named Gully and her friends, a group of traveling warriors who are on a grand quest (aren’t they always?). Gully and her crew’s airship is shot out of the sky, the party is separated and you’ll have to find your missing friends while you navigate the hostile world you’ve crash-landed on. The story starts off very simply, but it gets more interesting as you slowly find your friends and piece together the mysteries of the strange island you’ve landed on.
The graphics and voice acting here are top notch. Even when discussing the mundane, you can’t help but get invested due to the line-delivery and beautiful visuals. The game has an appropriately comic-bookish style, and most of the game is bright and colorful. Unfortunately, multiple times throughout my play-through I found myself staring at a pink screen instead of a cut-scene, which luckily I was still able to skip with a button press, but twice I had to just reload a previous save, losing a little of my dungeon progress. The cut-scenes are well done and well-acted, so it’s a shame that some didn’t actually play.
The technical problems didn’t stop there. My “sunder” buff hardly ever showed up on the enemies I inflicted it on; I would strike my foe, the word “sunder” floats up, confirming I had successfully landed the buff, but when I looked at the active buffs on the enemy, it wasn’t there. In a couple fights, I cast Guff’s ability, “heroism”, which shields the entire party. I cast it twice, but no shields. I even used Knolan’s mana shield directly after “heroism” and it worked just fine. I checked my enemies’ perks and buffs, but couldn’t find anything that would negate my ability to cast “heroism”. It’s possible one of my foes did have some sort of skill that negated my shields, but if this was the case, I couldn’t have known from the information I was given. Seeing as how “heroism” costs 20 mana, this was a costly way to learn it didn’t work in that fight. The other possibility, of course, is a glitch, and with the problems I had prior to this, I couldn’t really trust that it wasn’t, making the rest of the fight pretty tough, as I was afraid to waste mana trying "heroism" again.
Another issue I had (if I can call it that), was the overdrive system. At first, it’s cool; basically, certain actions, like attacking, will give you “overdrive points”, which acts as a supplement to your mana, allowing you to burn overdrive instead of using your mana. But after a while, I realized I was more or less being trained to never cast abilities at the outset of a battle, instead building my overdrive before letting loose with my serious attacks to conserve the precious blue stuff. It’s hard to say if this was my own fault, me refusing to learn a lesson or stubbornly feeling like I should be playing a certain way. Still, it’s a cool idea and later in the game when I acquired characters with higher mana, I wasn’t as scared to use mana, but in the first 8 hours or so, it got pretty repetitive; make all three characters attack two rounds in a row to build overdrive, then begin to really take the fight to my enemies with my abilities.
The battles themselves are classic JRPG style, with a few welcome updates to the tried and true turn based combat formula. Everyone has to take their turns attacking, but you can manipulate the speed in which a given character cycles through the rotation with your haste stat. The more haste you assign to a character through rings, weapons or perks, the faster that warrior will cycle through the attack order. It’s a simple but important feature and makes for some interesting choices. For example, do you increase your attack power or your haste? Is it more important to hit harder or have more chances to hit? There’s a lot of customization to be considered, like turning your traditional healer into an offensive juggernaut or vice versa.
Another combat feature in Battle Chasers: Nightwar is the burst meter. This meter fills up as you fight, allowing you to unleash a special attack. The bar can be built up by “levels’, much like Capcom Vs SNK. Get in a hurry and cast a level 1 burst (ranging from a meaty attack to a group heal, depending on which character you're using) or hold out, build your burst to level two or three and unleash more powerful attack or heal spell. The animations are generally pretty good here, with a couple (cough, cough, Garrison, cough) that look more like they belong on a PS2 than a PS4.
Buffs and ailments are a big part of the combat and instead of feeling restrictive, it opens up a lot of options in combat. Do you want to have your saucy, well-endowed redhead unleash a big, nasty smash, or should she cast a spell that will improve her haste and evade for a couple turns? Should you poison this steam-punk werewolf, which will inflict a little damage now but more over time, or just go balls out and unload a heavy attack for maximum damage immediately? It adds a lot of consideration to the combat, almost making some fights chess-like in how you need to think ahead and prioritize attacks and enemies.
In addition to the combat, there is a crafting system for armor and weapons, an alchemy system for various potions, hunting and fishing missions, multiple shops and NPC’s to meet and a good amount of lore in the form of letters and reports scattered around the game. There is no wanting for content in Battle Chasers.