Battle Chasers: Nightwar (Switch) Review

Comic Book Meets RPG

Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a fusion of comic books and classic role-playing games with a fascinating history. The title is based on artist Joe Madureira’s late ‘90s comic Battle Chasers, which followed five diverse heroes in a medieval steampunk setting. It was eventually cancelled as Madureira moved on to video game development, working on such series as Darksiders. As fate would have it, Madureira and other Darksiders veterans successfully Kickstarted a project that would revitalize the comics in video game form.

See the game in action with my Video Review!

The story builds off its comic predecessor and follows the same characters: the stoic swordsman Garrison, elderly wizard Knolan, notorious outlaw Red Monika, kind robot Calibretto, and Gully, a young girl searching for her missing father. Battle Chasers: Nightwar introduces a new character to the ragtag team, the mysterious Alumon. While the crew is en route to an island rumored to have reserves of Mana, the world’s magic, villains attack their airship and separate them. Adventure ensues, and the companions seek out the true enemy. The story is standard as far as fantasy RPG plots go: find friends, fight villain, save the day. The characters share a believable chemistry, although they remain static aside from dialogue scenes at inns. It sells the protagonists short, but the transition from book to game is otherwise effective.

BattleChasersNightwar_Switch_Review1.jpg.jpg
Animated by the same team from the amazing Netflix Castlevania cartoon!

I haven’t read the source comic, but between the eye-catching designs, detailed comic panel cutscenes, and fluidly animated intro, the production values are top-notch. The subdued musical score is a bit quiet for my taste, but the light piano and violin pieces fit the fantasy theme. The voice acting is solid and sells the game’s likable cast. My only complaint lies with some performance issues, namely occasional lag, long loading times, and worst of all, instances of the game soft-locking or crashing.

The journey itself is typical RPG fare. Once you run into an on-screen enemy, a fight ensues. If you’ve played old Super Nintendo or PlayStation RPGs (or modern throwbacks to the genre), Battle Chasers: Nightwar’s combat will feel right at home. Similarly to Final Fantasy X’s conditional turn-based battle system, your three party members follow a clearly displayed turn-order, and certain actions affect that order. For instance, some spells take time to cast and push you down the queue.

BattleChasersNightwar_Switch_Review2.jpg.jpg
Battles are like comic book panels come to life.

Each character has a unique moveset with over a dozen possible choices per turn. For example, the wizard Knolan can unleash strong magic spells or heal the party’s debuffs. Meanwhile, Alumon focuses on attacks that hit hard and simultaneously heal wounds. Since you can only bring three of your six members into battle at a time, it’s a process to discover which combos work against certain enemies. Rarely does a move only deal damage. Luckily, the menu’s move descriptions are detailed; they reveal exactly how many hit points you’ll shave off and which status ailments you’ll inflict, so planning your move is never a guessing game. You can formulate effective strategies by evaluating every consequence.

The overcharge mechanics also stand out: stronger abilities consume your limited Mana supply. By using a regular attack, you can fill Mana above your maximum, called overcharge, which is essentially free consumable magic power. Deciding whether to build up Mana with weaker attacks or unleash high-cost spells from the get-go provides a strategic layer of tug-of-war. It’s gravy how some attacks utilize the overcharged Mana for extra damage. Each turn is a calculated chess move, not to mention the powerful and flashy Burst attacks that characters activate by filling up a shared energy gauge. They can easily turn the tide.

BattleChasersNightwar_Switch_Review3.jpg.jpg
Dungeons are randomly filled with puzzles and events.

Overworld gameplay features both old-school and modern elements. The world map is barren, consisting of predetermined pathways towards towns, dungeons, and exploration areas with enemies littered about. The eight dungeons are more substantial. In a style evoking dungeon crawlers of the past, your set party of three seeks the path to the boss in an isometric labyrinth. There are some skills to utilize outside of battle like stealth or healing, but it’s otherwise a survival challenge. Dungeons are procedurally generated; the room layout and configuration are random, as are the events, traps, puzzles, loot, and fishing minigames within. As such, you can revisit dungeons for a new randomly generated adventure. Rather, you will have to revisit them to level up.

BattleChasersNightwar_Switch_Review4.jpg.jpg
The challenge indicator has listed “Impossible” for me before…

Grinding is an unfortunate relic of RPGs that must be tolerated, but in Battle Chasers: Nightwar, it teeters on excessive. At a certain point midgame, the enemy levels rise significantly above your party, and reliably winning battles becomes near impossible. This pattern persists from one dungeon to another, and you’ll end up replaying old dungeons repeatedly at higher difficulty tiers for experience points. The harder difficulties provide an enticing risk/reward challenge, but repeating entire dungeons gets tedious.

The miniscule EXP gain and overly expensive healing items don’t do the grind any favors, not to mention there isn’t a way to speed up battles. Furthermore, inactive party members don’t receive any EXP, so you’ll have to train them up separately. What should be an enjoyable journey ends up feeling like a chore, requiring much patience throughout this 25-30 hour ordeal. The only plusses are a healthy amount of sidequests and a good progression system, in which you earn ability perks from leveling up and defeating enemies multiple times. Character customization is fun, but it’s not enough to offset the slog.

BattleChasersNightwar_Switch_Review5.jpg.jpg
FOOOOOORE!

Conclusion

Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a solid RPG with a strategic battle system and challenging dungeon-crawling, but it’s held back by its harsh reliance on grinding and sudden difficulty spikes. Regardless, its slower playstyle can work in spurts thanks to the Nintendo Switch’s handheld mode, which works well aside from some lag. If you are a retro RPG fan who won’t mind the grind, the game’s worth checking out. Madureira has put passion into bringing his series back to life, and it shows in this beautifully produced comic book adventure.

Score: 7/10

Note: A review copy was used for this article. This review was originally written on DarkStation.

What do you think of Battle Chasers: Nightwar? What are your favorite comic book games? Shout out your favorite RPGs, whether classic or modern! I’d love to know what you think, so please share any thoughts or questions in the comments section below! Thank you so much for reading and watching! Your support helps a lot!

Advertisements

13 thoughts on “Battle Chasers: Nightwar (Switch) Review

  1. Great review! It’s awesome to see comics come to life in video game form! I would play a Marvel RPG in this style. Even better if it has the ATB system from Final Fantasy, one of my favorite RPGs! The opening totally looks like an anime I would watch, and the characters look really cool and voiced dialogue is always a plus. And I love RPGs, but the grinding is one of the most annoying parts of playing (except for Final Fantasy V of course), and I don’t think I have the time to grind where enemies suddenly have huge power jumps. I guess it’s cool that the dungeons are different each time you visit them, so that makes the grind a little better, hopefully? I’ll maybe check out Battle Chasers for the awesome artwork sometime, but there are some other RPGs I’m currently playing–like Final Fantasy, and you just know I have to beat those! Loved your review! :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much as always for your support and encouragement! I appreciate it! 😀 I had a feeling you might want a Marvel Final Fantasy RPG. Really makes me wonder about Stan Lee’s collaboration with Square Enix. That’s definitely something to look forward to haha! Grinding can be hit or miss. I’m not generally a fan of grinding, but I don’t mind when you get a lot of goodies along the way and I don’t have to be paying as much attention (so that I can watch or listen to something else at the same time). It’s not as fun to grind in Battle Chasers: Nightwar between the more difficult enemies and lower EXP gain, but I still enjoyed it a lot. I wasn’t expecting to have as much fun with it as I did! Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Looks cool! I actually like the look of the over world map, even if apparently not a lot happens on it. Also, how does the protagonist having the Infinity Gauntlet make any of this fair?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your great words man! I appreciate it as always! Hahaha! Hey, she worked hard to get that Infinity Gauntlet. The Marvel Cinematic Universe better watch out. Here comes Gully!

      Like

      1. Aww thank you so much! If you end up checking it out, I sincerely hope you enjoy it! Breath of the Wild is amazing! Have fun!!! I also recommend Super Mario Odyssey, of course, as one of my favorites on the Switch. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Yahoo! Enjoy! Plus there’s my video tour of our figurine and game collection on there recently too! Oh, and you’ll probably see two new videos on the channel by tomorrow hahaha. It’s my birthday surprise (to myself)! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s