For those who know about Kentaro Miura’s Berserk, it’s easy to recognize that the tale of the mercenary-turned-demon hunter Guts would make for a fantastic Warriors game. The epic manga/anime features grand scale medieval battles full of carnage and chaos – where thousands of soldiers rush into battle to engage in vicious melee combat, and an army of creepy and bloodthirsty demons ready to tear through flesh and bone. It made perfect sense for Omega Force to adapt the series after successful adaptations of The Heroic Legend of Arslan and Attack on Titan, and with Berserk and the Band of the Hawk, they successfully bring the bloody and action-packed fantasy world to life, even though it plays too familiarly to their previous offerings.
Berserk and the Band of the Hawk
Developed by Omega Force / Published by Koei Tecmo
Available on the PC, PS4 and PS Vita. Reviewed on the PC.
As you’d expect, Berserk and the Band of the Hawk is all about rushing into battlefields and tearing through legions of enemy grunts, which is the signature hack-and-slash gameplay from the Warriors franchise. The twist comes from using characters from Miura’s popular and long-running manga, and using special attacks befitting of their combat styles.
Berserk and the Band of the Hawk plays exactly like previous Warriors titles, but it also has a couple of tweaks to distinguish itself from the pack and add some flair from the source material. Players will still mow down baddie after baddie as they complete mission objectives, as well as have access to standard and heavy attacks and a number of combos to send enemies flying, but they’ll also have access to Frenzy Mode, which replaces the standard Musou attack. Frenzy mode allows players to power up and cause more damage by slaughtering enemies for a limited time, and once an additional meter is filled they can then activate a viciously powerful and flashy attack to cause even more damage. It ties in nicely with Guts’ bloodthirst and combat style, and other characters can use it as well to turn the tides in battle.
Despite being a formula many already know, the game is still a blast to play, thanks to the excellent visuals and heaps of blood that fly across the screen. Each attack and blow feels appropriate according to the character (such as Guts’ slow and heavy yet powerful swings, and Griffith’s quick stabs and strikes), and cutting through enemies never gets old. The fresh coat of paint inspired by the anime films definitively helps out as well.
Other familiar elements also make an appearance, such as the ability to equip gear to improve stats and enhance them for additional buffs, experience points that unlock new moves and improve stats, and equippable items that can be used in battle to heal, improve attacks, and more. It’s nothing too complicated or deep, but it adds some options and variety to combat.
Players also get to collect Behelits, the series’ iconic egg-shaped keys to another realm. Most stages offer specific objectives that must be completed in order to collect them, and these in turn unlock pieces of art that form an image once all are gathered. It’s not much of a reward, but it does add some replay value to the experience.
Story Mode takes place throughout the events seen in the three Golden Age Arc films up until the Hawk of the Millennium Empire storyline, complete with cutscenes straight from the source material. Players will mostly control Guts as he grows within the Band of the Hawk until the eventual twist, but they’ll also get to play a variety of supporting characters in specific stages like Casca, Griffith, and more. The stages and the number of objectives are shorter and quicker than previous Warriors titles, though it’s no less fun.
The game also brings Free Mode, which lets players choose from the variety of playable characters and formidable foes and play through any previously completed stage, and Endless Eclipse, which is a multi-layered dungeon that has players completing floor after floor to see how deep they can go. Once again, while there’s a lack of game modes, what’s available is still pretty entertaining.
While Berserk and the Band of the Hawk doesn’t mess with the established Warriors formula too much, it’s still a good time that’s sure to entertain fans of the manga/anime. There’s not much new here, but hacking and slashing enemies – especially as the one and only Guts, never gets old.