Roleplaying games are stuck in dark, depressing worlds where the buildings are decaying and the player is merely trying to keep back the tide of doom. At first glance, Battlechasers seems like it might go that route. Features touted include random dungeons, random loot, and randomly appearing friends and foes. It’s apparently more random than an emo kid in Hot Topic. And then the anime opener starts and it’s clear you’ve misjudged.
Battle Chasers: Nightwar
Developer: Airship Syndicate
Platform: PC (reviewed), PS4, Xbox One
MonsterVine was supplied with Steam code for review
Battlechasers is a throwback to Super Nintendo-era of RPGs, with all their hallmarks: bright colors, a ragtag band of heroes on a mysterious island, a missing father, and plenty of classic adventuring. The missing daddy backstory provides ample excuse to roam around the world and collect things, delve into alchemy, and even indulge in a surprisingly gripping fishing minigame.
More importantly, it’s fun and laid back. Battlechasers isn’t an RPG that’s going to hit you with a steel chair to prove its hardcore bona fides. Lose in battle and the team pops up at the nearest inn, down a little gold but otherwise ready to go. Take a few minutes to do some crafting or exploration and you won’t be penalized or miss out on an important quest. Do well and you get experience and crafting ingredients.
As characters level up, they unlock new skills and abilities. Customization on that front is very limited, but it does prevent you from screwing up your characters. On the other hand, it’s possible to buy appearance items to give everyone funny hats if you’re so inclined. And that’s with in-game money, there’s no microtransactions or spending $3 for a particularly amusing hat, thank God.
Combat takes place in the familiar turn-based fashion from Final Fantasy and a host of other JRPG series. For all that it’s instantly recognizable, it feels and looks great. Big, bulky characters have a tremendous heft to their movements and attacks land with heavy thuds. Light, fast characters do intricate, speedy moves. It’s a joy to watch.
The twist–because of course there’s a twist–is that in Battlechasers, enemies can come in waves. This adds some strategy to the classical form: save the mana to execute that super move later or burn it now and risk being tapped out for the later rounds. It’s easy to figure out but suitably engaging, especially as status effects and counters begin piling up so it’s more than just hitting each other.
Production values are quite high: the music is great, the occasional anime cutscene is extremely well done, the art is gorgeous. The overworld map tends to feel a lot like the classic Warcraft–the RTS–maps, where the world feels suitably rich and magical, with little flourishes of menace here and there. There’s voice acting and, for once, it’s actually pretty solid all around. The story is fairly decent, with every character getting some time to shine even while we have an idea how the whole “quest for understanding dad’s mysteriously powerful artifact” is going to turn out.
Even on that note, there’s a lot to do besides the main quest. There’s crafting diaries to fill up, a Bestiary to fill out, little subquests for various things, the fishing system. Dungeons even have “Heroic” options for better loot if you want to keep grinding, grinding, grinding.
The Final Word
Battlechasers is an RPG to kick back and enjoy. It may not have the customization or character development some players enjoy, but with a big main story and plenty of subquests, minigames, and journals to fill out, there’s always something to do.
– MonsterVine Review Score: 4.5 out of 5 – Great