For the past few years, the Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors “Musou” series of games have taken somewhat of a back seat in the wake of other “spin-off” games that take popular franchises from anime and video games and amalgamating them into their genre. Such examples as of late are Zelda, One Piece, Fist of the North Star and the latest – Berserk and the Band of the Hawk.
First a bit of backstory, Berserk is a popular manga and anime series that began in the early 90’s that is still currently running on popular types of media. Berserk and the Band of the Hawk mainly covers the start of the Golden Age arc all the way through to the end of the Falcon of the Millennium Empire arc of the comic. Here we see the main protagonist of the whole series, Guts, who recently joined the Band of the Hawk. Even though I don’t follow much of the series, surprisingly the storyline feels structured enough that the world and its characters are easy to pickup, even if you know nothing Berserk-related, this game can be a good jump-off point for those even remotely interested in the brand.
The game’s story missions are very typical of what you would expect on the “Musou” series, which involves mainly eliminating hundreds (even thousands) of enemies, all from your blade. Taking control of the Guts feels very right at home with Koei Tecmo’s slaughter-spree titles. At it’s heart the game is limited to three types of objectives – rescue, destroy and kill. Even with the multiple ways to finish a scenario, I found that most of the chapters can take less than 10 minutes to complete. It felt a bit short, that at times even the in-game cut-scenes are even longer. Having played older games of similar vein, I was finding myself wanting this to be a bit more epic.
Like previous entries, the game boils down to how many light and heavy attacks you connect. After a few hundred kills, the hero can unleash a devastating finishing move that wipes out every nearby enemy. During the course of your quest, you have the opportunity to level up your characters, gain new abilities and weapons and, at some missions, you get to try out new characters.
As straightforward as this goes, even though the main idea is “eliminate everyone in your path,” during the course of the campaign, given the very limited variety of winning conditions, I really found Berserk to be tedious and repetitive as progress further the lengthy 46-mission storyline. It is good to know though that the boss fights are a welcoming change of pace on an otherwise groundhog day-ish grind.
Speaking of repetitive, the game’s endurance mode called Endless Eclipse, which basically emulates the campaign mode’s completion of the main objectives but at the same time, this mode gives you no penalty for ignoring the lesser enemies. To be honest I found this just a tad bit boring compared to the main storyline, as I see not much of an replay incentive (aside from the character-rewards) in plowing through this. But hey, it’s here if you want that added juice in your purchase.
Speaking about the games graphics, the game looks faithful to the original source, But having played it on the PlayStation 4, and comparing it to its other ports like the PS3 and Vita, I felt that they adjusted or downplayed the visual department a bit for its older brothers to catch up, as they look somewhat similar.
Berserk and the Band of the Hawk at its minimum, would satisfy both the fans of the game and the anime. While this version provides a much more simpler side of the spectrum, the game is quick to pick up and easy to introduce to people who are curious of the Berserk Fluff.
- Retains that “Musou” feel at the same time feels right at home with the source material.
- Boss fights are a nice change of pace.
- Cutscenes are nice and the overall story is well-structured for newcomers.
- Compared to other similar titles, this is more mindlessly repetitive than the previous games.
- Nitpicking but the cutscenes tend to be longer than the missions at times.
- Endless Eclipse does not push the player into diving further into the game.
Final Score: 7/10