Battle Chasers: Nightwar (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Tomas Barry 07.07.2018

Review for Battle Chasers: Nightwar on Nintendo Switch

Battle Chasers is an American fantasy comic-book series from the late '90s that was extremely popular, but was hampered by long delays and a publisher switchover, which ultimately led to an early demise. It was created by writer and artist Joe Madureria, who subsequently transitioned into a career as a videogame designer in the early 2000s. Although he worked on projects such as Dungeon Runners, as well as the cancelled Dragonkind, today he is best known for his work as creative director of the much revered Darksiders series. It seems very fitting, then, that Madureria would eventually revive this comic book universe in the form of an RPG adventure. Battle Chasers: Nightwar released on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Mac in October 2017 and, back then, Cubed3 praised it for its carefully constructed battle system, plus its strong sense of adventure and atmosphere. How does the Switch version fare, then?

The short answer is very well indeed, despite one or two caveats. Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a 40-hour-plus JRPG adventure, which lends itself very well to a portable platform, since players can do short stints wherever a spare fifteen minutes presents itself. Sure, reviewers raise this as a plus point for almost anything that finds its way onto Switch, but since there's such a huge emphasis on grinding here, it cannot be underestimated how much the portability factor enhances the title overall. Many owners on different platforms deemed the efforts required to keep the whole team battle-worthy quite excessive, but the Switch version alleviates some of this tension because it's easier to get stuck in here and there. In addition, the XP system has been tweaked so that level progression is a tad faster and purchasable buffs have been added, which also improve matters. On top of that, minor skirmishes with 'lesser' enemies can now be avoided once the team is strong enough. All of this helps to ensure things never feel pointlessly laborious or testing.

Screenshot for Battle Chasers: Nightwar on Nintendo Switch

Although Battle Chasers: Nightwar picks up from where the comic book series ended, it's somewhat of a side-story tangent rather than a progression of the existing narrative. Garrison is the legendary swordsman, Calibretto the gentle war golem, Knolan the old wizard, Monika the red-head bounty hunter, and Alumon the monster hunter accompanying nine-year-old Gully, aboard their airship - and trying to locate her missing father. However, this pursuit is compromised when they are shot down by mercenaries over a strange island, thus beginning the team's endeavour to get to the bottom of another mystery. Airship Syndicate certainly establishes this new setting quite expertly. It's difficult to honour existing lore whilst establishing a new location, characters and plot parameters, but Battle Chasers: Nightwar achieves this feat without stretching itself. The pacing of these new discoveries is well laid out and delivered with poise, and things remain gripping throughout. It is a tangent, but feels well implemented within the existing Battle Chasers universe, rather than an excuse for a blank canvas in order not to put off newcomers.

Screenshot for Battle Chasers: Nightwar on Nintendo Switch

Perhaps the most successful aspect, and the key reason why it's so addictive, is how it honours the JRPG formula whilst simultaneously putting a modern slant on things. At the core of any successful game of this genre is a deep and intricate turn-based combat system, and Battle Chasers: Nightwar certainly shines in this department. On the surface, it is all quite familiar, but two new mechanics - overcharge and burst - really freshens things up. The former builds up when characters use standard (non-mana) attacks, providing opportunities to deal more damage with extra mana-power and the use of special abilities. Burst is an independent gauge, which applies to the whole team and builds up gradually during combat. Once charged, it enables some of the more interesting special character abilities and attacks, which can be upgraded as progress is made. It's an interesting dual dynamic, which keeps the pathway to success varied, and players experimenting throughout. Considering the huge array of items and buffs also available, everything seems extremely well balanced, which is quite a feat.

The other way in which [i]Battle Chasers: Nightwar[i/] modernises the JRPG formula is in its approach to dungeons. Most of these are procedurally generated, which, despite what you might think, does not at all work against how memorable they are. They seem just as crafted and well-orchestrated as the developer-designed ones, and this approach ensures no two dungeon slogs are the same experience. It adds a great deal of replay value, helping to keep things fresh for players grinding their characters up to scratch for their next objective. In addition, before entering, it is possible to set the difficulty, which incentivises revisiting older dungeons with a more powerful team, especially as worthwhile rewards are doled out for each incremental increase. There are also some developer-designed dungeons, which have more set-piece moments and feel a little more grandiose. Overall, the approach to dungeons must be commended. Eight may not sound like a lot, but their potential is maximised due to this modern twist.

Screenshot for Battle Chasers: Nightwar on Nintendo Switch

As previously stated, the Switch version benefits from the tweaks to XP progression, as well as some other minor balance tweaks and item additions, to help improve the flow of the first ten hours and make it feel a little less unforgiving in the opening third. This ensures players get the best opportunity to invest themselves in the Battle Chasers universe, without being stretched by overly-intense grinding sessions that previously were essential in order to be prepared for the next challenge. However, it does suffer from some other issues. Whereas the PC and console versions seemed to run at a much smoother 60 frames-per-second, the Switch version runs at half that. This is no surprise, nor a deal-breaker, but accompanied by some quite prevalent frame-drops, it certainly seems as though it is not particularly well-optimised. There are also long loading times, which are very frequent and a bit disappointing. Perhaps a patch in the future will remedy or improve these matters. Ultimately, though, they are only minor technical annoyances.

Screenshot for Battle Chasers: Nightwar on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Battle Chasers: Nightwar on Nintendo Switch is a highly engrossing experience, which JRPG fans, raised on the likes of Final Fantasy and Suikoden, will savour every minute of. In interactive form, Joe Madureria's universe has been brought to life in a whole new way. Strengthening and upgrading its endearing characters is a very enjoyable process. The world is atmospherically rich and aesthetically gorgeous, and is supported by a great soundtrack and voice acting. Moreover, the turn-based combat mechanic is such a finely-tuned formula that it sustains itself across a forty-hour campaign with great success, especially with the XP progression tweaks. However, it is an undeniable shame that the issues that plagued the other versions, like long and disjointed loading times, persist here. There are frequent frame-drops when traversing busy sections and the drop from 60 to 30fps is very noticeable. Thankfully, these minor gripes aren't enough to deter users from this excellent RPG.

Developer

Airship Syndicate

Publisher

THQ Nordic

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
K-Pop Korner - The Best of Korean Music
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
Gabriel PVJ Jones, Red

There are 2 members online at the moment.