Any fans of the JRPG genre will find some comfort with Battle Chasers: Nightwar, which splices its old-school DNA with modern trappings. For all its familiarity of turn-based combat and impressive visuals, this is a skillfully put together and modernized JRPG with a Western touch.
However, the plot of the 30-40 hour fantasy romp is not up to snuff. On your journey towards vanquishing the big bad, your party grows and as you explore the huge overworld, one would expect developments and fleshing out of these diverse bunch of characters.
That is sorely lacking in Battle Chasers: Nightwar. Characters seldom interact outside of a few specific instances, there are no intriguing backstories that get explored, and worst of all, there are no emotional stakes and payoffs. Outside of their usefulness in combat, much of your party remain likeable but are just too two-dimensional to be memorable.
What Battle Chasers: Nightwar gets right are its visuals. Both character designs and the varied environments that await your first step are teeming with details. There is a certain, attractive style to each of the eight major dungeons on the overworld. Expect lush forests, dank underground areas and more, with a plethora of smaller areas that are filled with perfect lighting and melodic music.
Be it your party members, the enemies, or even the NPCs, they are brought to life with strong strokes and vibrant colours. Characters who are voiced are done competently, and their distinct personalities shine through. The metallic golem, Calibretto, is a definite favourite, with both animations and voice acting at its very best.
Battle Chasers: Nightwar eschews the idea of random battles, with encounters clearly visible on the overworld and represented by moving units when in dungeons. Once defeated, these foes are gone until a visit to the inn, which is useful when you have to grind to get your party up to speed, especially during the middle act of the game where the difficulty spikes rather unfairly.
This is par for the course for a JRPG, and Battle Chasers: Nightwar does not prolong the proceeds to egregiously.
In combat, Battle Chasers: Nightwar introduces Overcharge, a separate resource that is generated through normal attacks that complements your mana reserves. Overcharge can grant access to powerful abilities, adding an additional tactical layer to an otherwise routine turn-based system.
It is extremely satisfying lining up attacks in sequence and unleashing a powerful Overcharge ability to clear the battlefields, and learning how to do is part of the fun.
Outside of the dungeon runs and exploration, there are also plenty of activities to busy yourself with. Hunts present optional bosses that must be tracked down and defeated for highly lucrative rewards.
Players can also take part in arena bouts where waves of increasingly potent enemies await, beat them and you might unlock some of the best items the game has to offer. If that is not your poison, try your hand at a simple yet addictive fishing minigame.
With a deep and full-featured crafting and enchanting system, you can spend hours fine-tuning your party for the best experience. Add to that several secrets and each party members’ Legendary Weapon to be found, and you could be in for the long haul.
Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a dense and visually pleasing experience, with its well-designed combat system and a world teeming with activities. While the plot and character development leave plenty to be desired, at its core, it remains an entertaining and worthwhile investment as a modernized JRPG.
Battle Chasers: Nightwar is available on the US PlayStation Network for US$29.99.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
A great attempt at modernizing the JRPG, Battle Chasers: Nightwar is but a few steps away from being truly great.