Berserk and the Band of the Hawk seamlessly combines the ridiculous and over-the-top gameplay seen in most Warriors games with the brutal and hideously gorgeous world of Berserk, in a way that will please any Berserk fan.
Berserk and the Band of the Hawk
Developer: Koei Tecmo
Platform: PS4 and PS Vita
MonsterVine was supplied with a PS4 code for review.
Berserk is one of those series with a somewhat small, but endlessly passionate cult following. This is probably due to the incredibly dark content, which seems to have scared developers away from making games based on its fantastic story. Thankfully, Koei Tecmo stepped up to the plate and decided to match it with their tried-and-true musou formula, and for the most part, it works wonders.
The Band of the Hawk‘s story mode covers the Berserk manga from the Golden Age arc to the Falcon of the Millennium Empire arc, which as of this review’s publication date, is actually further than any anime adaption of the series has gone. The story is especially deep, as it covers moments from the manga that have yet to be adapted, such as the battle between Guts, Zodd, and Wyald, who’s never been animated. While most cutscenes are either taken from the film trilogy or done in-game, there are text-based side-events that cover the tiniest details in the story, such as Gaston’s fondness of tailoring, and Corkus’s constant comedic stupidity. The Band of the Hawk spares no expense when it comes to its story, and adapts it as well as one could hope for from an action-oriented Warriors game.
It’s also worth noting for the uninitiated that, like the series it’s based on, Berserk and the Band of the Hawk deals with some incredibly dark content, and includes disturbing themes such as rape and heavy torture.
The gameplay of The Band of the Hawk is obviously its biggest feature, as Berserk is the perfect candidate for the carnage-fueled Warriors genre. While the main objective for Warriors games tends to be capturing as many territories from the enemy team as possible, by hacking and slashing every enemy in your path in the most flashy manner possible. Berserk pushes the territory-grabbing to the side for the most part in order to fully embrace the gratuitous over-the-top violence that both franchises so gleefully frolic in.
“The sheer amount of ridiculous gore feels right at home when paired with the endless waves of flimsy, easy-to-dismantle enemies.”
The Band of the Hawk proves that few series feel as perfectly tailored to the genre as Berserk. The sheer amount of ridiculous gore feels right at home when paired with the endless waves of flimsy, easy-to-dismantle enemies. The somewhat disturbing sense of elation that comes from mowing through hordes of grunt soldiers and demons is something that can only be found here, thanks to the weighty feeling of combat that The Band of the Hawk boasts. This heavy feeling doesn’t hinder the speed or flow of combat however, as each character still moves and attacks with satisfying speed. This balance keeps combat fun and addictive, which proves to be an important aspect due to the game’s length and general repetition. The plethora of unique playable characters keeps things especially entertaining, with characters from every arc of the series at your disposal.
As previously mentioned, missions in The Band of the Hawk tend to provide territory-battles as a side-mission, rather than the main objective of each level. Missions normally revolve around slaying certain enemies, or certain quantities of enemies. This focus on violence is perfect for Berserk, and makes for a very generally enjoyable hack-and-slash game. The missions are spiced up by “Behelit” conditions, certain conditions that unlock gallery pieces when completed. These conditions add variety to each mission, as they normally have you doing things you wouldn’t normally go out of your way to do.
The Band of the Hawk‘s repetition is the most make-or-break aspect of the game. As with most musou games, the gameplay doesn’t really change from start to end. The last mission will be practically identical to the first one in terms of how you play it, which means you’ll either really enjoy the whole game, or get burnt-out early on. As is usually the case for musou games, an affinity for the series being represented boosts the enjoyment of the game immensely, though this goes both ways. Berserk fans will love the levels and the gameplay, but those who aren’t overly interested in the franchise will likely find it to be confusing.
“The last mission will be practically identical to the first one in terms of how you play it, which means you’ll either really enjoy the whole game, or get burnt-out early on.”
The visuals of The Band of Hawk are rather impressive, as they emulate the incredibly unique style of Berserk very well. The intricate details present in the various armours and environments is impressive to say the least, but the demons and surreal locations are where the visuals really shine. Miura’s iconic style of drawing incredibly detailed monsters and terrible things is reflected perfectly in the ghastly God Hand or the horrid world found during the Eclipse. Few things are as simultaneously beautiful and unsettling as Berserk‘s artstyle, so it’s great to see the game carry over its iconic look so well.
The Band of Hawk‘s sound is decent, though not particularly stand-out. While the voices for each character are fitting and well-performed, as they’re lifted from the 2016 anime adaption, the music isn’t particularly outstanding. While it sets the tone well, it’s more of a score than a memorable soundtrack. The sound effects are alright, with the iconic clang sounds from Guts’s sword standing out above everything else.
The Final Word
Berserk and the Band of the Hawk is a fantastic hack-and-slash for Berserk fans, and a good one for any other action fans. The visuals and narrative stand out for their accuracy, further cementing Berserk as the perfect fit for the genre.
MonsterVine Rating: 4 out of 5 – Good