Berserk and the Band of the Hawk Review
Since the first Dynasty Warriors, developers like Omega Force have redefined what it means to “hack and slash” their way through a torrent of enemies. They’ve released various side games in the past, usually based on real history that’s been over-inflated, but have taken a liking to include anime into their games. One Piece and The Legend of Arslan are notable past Warriors games also based on iconic anime. Therefore, being the “weeb” I am, I needed to get my hands on it in case not many copies sold. The addiction quickly infected me and I was hooked but maybe for the wrong reason?
Captures the anime perfectly: Berserk fans will be pleased at the overall look and feel of Band of the Hawk as it encompasses the visceral nature that is the anime/manga. The team at Omega Force did their utmost to include as much gory detail as they could with body parts flying everywhere and people getting chopped in half. Some of the more R-rated material has been excluded such as sexual scenes and nudity but this still feels as true as it can be to the source material. The story is perfectly told throughout the game
Not just for fans: While this may come as a refresher to fans of the series, other enthusiasts out there will be pleased at the inclusion of Berserk anime clips as the cut-scenes, being able to follow the story from beginning to where it is now it is currently aired. Although it is true that the battles occur during game-play so they’ll miss out on how the anime portrays those but they will be pleased that the character-building and more emotional side of the show is present. This Berserk-Warriors title ensures that the story is brought forth and the player will have a good time watching it. Going further than the anime and into the manga has the game models used for the cut-scenes afterwards, still trying to present the story as best they can and with fantastic voice acting in Japanese only.
Can choose difficulty from the beginning: Experienced Warriors players will be happy to dive into a challenge right off the bat with the BERSERK difficulty which is the arduous mode where enemies deal more damage and have higher hit points. New starters coming into the game will be satisfied with slaughtering thousands on Easy mode which is very gratifying, all while enjoying the story in comfort. Understanding the easy controls will make higher difficulties not too strenuous at any point in the game, especially after leveling up but also giving veteran players a good challenge from the start.
Addictive: As was said before about slaughtering thousands, there’s just something about Warriors games that really gets people hooked into them. Omega Force has always done a good job at transferring anime-enemies into a hoard of disposable pawns to cut through. Guts easily becomes the 1000-man killer and it’s so satisfying in every way to do it. Players will enjoy the unique attack patterns of all the characters as they mow across the field of battle. There’s lots of stuff to do in this game and the Endless Eclipse mode really gives the player a chance to continue endlessly past the main story. Replay value for the story isn’t very high and Free Mode, where you can play the same missions as other characters, only presents the opportunity to play the same story as another character; this doesn’t add any new dialogue, however.
Cut-scenes are too long: Omega Force did include much of the anime into the cut-scenes but that’s just it, it may take a long time to get through them and other dialogue in order to get to the next battle. What One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 did nicely with their short-and-sweet cut-scenes is that they animated with the character models and it looked good but they were short so not too much time was spent waiting until the next battle. Even though the anime is superb it still defuses the gamer to not be pumped anymore but revert to a relaxed viewer mode.
Trophies are tedious: Veterans will be well aware of the grinding nature of the Trophies for Warriors titles. This may come as a shock to anybody Trophy hunting out there but this won’t be a walk in the park as you’ll require many hours to dump into game-play. Leveling up every character will be exhausting before taking on Endless Eclipse mode with each of them and require a lot of replaying of the same levels and skipping scenes they’ve already seen many times.
Focus is on Guts: Yes, Guts is the main “squeeze” when it comes to Berserk but it would have been nice to have more missions in the main story that solely focus on other characters. There are many times in the series where we saw or heard what the others went through and that could have been transferred into the game. Not only that but a Warriors game like this could have had potential “what if” scenarios or possible backstory missions that had characters fighting in past events only explained in dialogue. The main problem is that the game follows the series too closely and doesn’t really take a chance at being creative with the material.
Berserk and the Band of the Hawk is highly addictive to those people who love Warriors games as there’s lots of content to grind through. As goes with most Warriors games this will be one of those that you can get back into anytime as a stress reliever to just smash waves of enemies with a powerful character. The models for characters/enemies look amazing and so do the environments that make the story told after the anime cut-scenes look good. The inclusion of the anime is fun but can make the player relax to the point of forgetting they’re playing a game, somewhat like the Metal Gear Solid series and their lengthy scenes. This is a must buy for Warriors and Berserk fans out there but not really something that anyone else can get into as it becomes redundant in terms of game-play, which makes it very niche.
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Berserk and the Band of the Hawk was developed by Omega Force and published by Koei Tecmo. It was released for the PlayStation 4 [reviewed], PlayStation Vita and PC via Steam on February 21st, 2017 in North America and February 24th in Europe. A press review copy was purchased for review by The Hidden Levels. Many studios submit copies for site review but this is in no way factored into our review scores. Games are scored on their individual merits and our rating system is explained here.
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