Berserk and the Band of the Hawk is Omega Force's latest Warriors-styled experience based off an anime. The brutal nature of the battlefield feels right at home as you move from one fight to the next with the once-young man named Guts exploring his life through its veritable rollercoaster of ups and downs.
Any fan of Omega Force's Warriors series will feel right at home with Berserk. The controls are fluid, the animations are superb, and Berserk has some of the biggest bone crunching satisfaction yet. Guts uses a giant sword that rivals Cloud's but unlike the spiky hero, this one is designed to hit multiple enemies at a time instead of simply showing off. There are other characters that can be used at specifically given times, but the bulk of the single player campaign is based on Guts with the rest more so available for the Free Play mode.
The main campaign goes through the chapters of Guts' life from before bring a member of the Band of the Hawk into the time afterwards through a series of stages and anime cutscenes. A little like Arslan: The Warriors of Legend in that respect there's a flow to the events with the gameplay being the bulk of the experience. What differentiates the two is that Arslan used the gameplay as a means to an end in order to tell it's tale with the actions taken in combat being "what happened" more often than simply letting the player go nuts and seeing how high of a killcount they could have. It was a great experience, but it didn't always leave room to simply enjoy the formula that a Warrior's entry provides.
Berserk compared to this is all about mowing down anyone that gets close and then worrying about objectives as there never seemed to be a time limit unless a partner's health was in question. Objectives are generally to remove more powerful units from existence or to make it over to a certain location to provide assistance by taking out those guarding a gate. It's a lot more focused on gameplay than storytelling inside of the missions which is great in its own way as it has its own style.
Berserk at times felt more like an Action Adventure with its map layouts than it did a Warrior's entry. Yes there are loads and loads of minions to remove but it was just enough of a shift to make for a fresh experience. The brutal nature of Guts' story simply feels at home and the 1v1000 format often suits it as over the course of the journey he is praised for single handedly taking out over one hundred men. I may have taken out one thousand, but hey, who's counting?
Adding to the feel are the crazy boss fights that are provided. We are talking about a level that even Lü Bu or Oda Nobunaga would think twice before engaging*. Not everything that Guts will face is human and some of the worst customers are giant demons with multiple health bars that only increase in power every time one is removed. These fights at first can feel like everything is under control until they start hitting harder while simultaneously taking less damage. Blocking and dodging become just as important as attacking which adds to that Action feel.
If, or when the going gets tough (I'm looking at you hell…), each character has the ability to go into a Frenzy Mode that upgrades their attack power to devastating amounts. Starting the gauge at level 1", after using it the next fill will bring it to level "2" and then once again up to level "3" making it all the more powerful each time. Not using it when it's ready is actually more of a disservice to yourself unless you are running to towards heavy unit or know that the stage is wrapping up and you've already gotten to level three. This resets every stage so getting back to three, and then to even higher levels once they are unlocked, is generally the first thing that should be done. That and it makes killing enemies that much easier.
The main campaign in lengthy with tons of dialog and anime to fill in the longer sequences. From what I understand, the anime portions have been taken from the newer Berserk series over the older one. With how fast time flies I hadn't had a chance to either read or watch like I had Arslan so I've approached this experience knowing nothing more than it was brutal and bloody. From start to finish? I have not been disappointed and I have to make time to know more about the series as I'm sure that not EVERYTHING was covered.
From the beginning, surprisingly actually, the secondary mode of Endless Eclipse Mode was available. This mode opens up more of itself as the main storyline is uncovered instead of simply being a reward for having finished it in the first place. This too was refreshing as it allowed for a break from the main experience with any of your characters that had been unlocked. If they weren't a high enough level then they could simply be leveled up with the gold that you've amassed.
The Eclipse Mode is "Endless" but only in the sense that you can keep on doing it until you're either A) tired of it and want to return to the main campaign or B) run out of current floors and are returned to the main menu. Unlike Samurai Warriors 4-II's Tower with bosses every few levels, this form of endless massacre is brought to you by people's desires every set of five floors. Once a desire is chosen then that will set the pace of the upcoming events for the new few floors. Helping someone out and then having them attack you is one possibility of how events will turn out and if that happens? Put them down with as much brutality as possible as there are many floors past them and to falling to this person means having to start all over again.
There are a hundred total levels but only twenty five are available in the beginning. From there checkpoints are unlocked every twenty levels as you go through and fulfill people's desires. The only catch to remember is that is you quit before a checkpoint has been unlocked then it has to be restarted from either the beginning or the previous checkpoint twenty floors ago. Upping the challenge is that any items that are used can only be replenished if you are lucky enough to receive that bonus from a treasure chest or reward for defeating a tough enemy. It's a neat distraction from the main event and a good way to level up your characters and obtain both new equipment and the materials to upgrade them.
Starting off with Guts and then moving to everyone else, three pieces of upgradable equipment can be equipped. Each piece comes with Strength, Defense, and Technique scores alongside a series of other stat boosters such as extra attack, attack range, luck or vitality. Some of these extra skills will be locked away safely while others could disappear all depending on what you do when the feature to merge equipment together is unlocked.
Merging equipment is just as useful as upgrading because it means that an item with high values in the three basics and no other bonuses can then receive these bonuses. Up to four pieces can be inserted into the base item though just make sure that you don't merge in a previously upgraded or merged item unless that's what you were aiming for. The process takes a fair amount of Gold at time but short of using your funds to level up each of your available characters? You coffers should be up to the task.
Berserk has a feel to it that has yet to be matched by another of the Warriors titles when it comes to feeling how powerful you are in combat. You can feel the hits out on the field of combat more than simply hear and run through your attack patterns. Some of them are downright brutal and that feeling is transferred over with a combination of both slight vibrations from the controller and a bit of shaking of the screen. It's more immersive than running through the fields of Hyrule or of Japan or China and I hope that this feature translates to the next projects.
Berserk is a great addition to Omega Force's Warriors lineup. Between the smooth controls, the immersive feel that makes you feel sorry for your enemies at times and the integration of the story from in-game cutscenes to the anime insertions, the whole package is a great one.
Sony PlayStation 4
Tecmo Koei America
Hack and Slash
Provided by Publisher
Article by Pierre-Yves
*Don't quote me on that, they may have both dived in head first for all I know!