Koei Tecmo are no stranger when it comes to creating action games. They have tackled several different anime and manga adoptions from Japan. Some of their more recent efforts include games like Hyrule Warriors, One Piece, Attack on Titan and Dragon Quest Heroes. They are all mainly hack-and-slash games but they offer their own unique twist on the genre and are extremely enjoyable.
Berserk and the Band of the Hawk is the latest effort of Koei Tecmo and unfortunately unlike the recently released Attack On Titan, this is a rather lackluster project for the most part, which is disappointing to say the least. However the game still presents a story that is interesting to follow and even if you are not a fan of the Berserk manga/anime, you might enjoy the plot and twists presented in the game. This is a testament to the writing for Berserk series more than the game itself.
Berserk and the Band of the Hawk details the story of the legendary warrior Guts. The game closely follows the story featured in the original Berserk manga while going through the key events in the story, however the way the developers have presented it in the game often feels like a repetitive set of tasks where we play a typical musou game. Our objective for most of the story missions, which are usually short, revolve around running on the world map from point A to B, while occasionally stopping on the way to fulfill objects. The world map is also seen in the same vein as a typical musou game but the importance is placed on the location of the objective as well as the player. The objectives mostly revolve around killing a certain amount of enemies.
This is a gameplay mechanics that might be familiar to the players who are used to playing a musou game, however in the case of Berserk, it is also tied to a rather archaic equipment and inventory system let down by a difficulty system that hardly offers any challenge. We play the role of Guts through the majority of the story as we experience the events featured in the manga in the game. Boss battles are usually easier and revolve around the same hack-and-slash mechanics, which doesn’t really leave room for strategy. There are some unique boss fights that might please the fans of the series.
The game doesn’t offer a lot of options in term of replay value. Once the story mode is completed, there is choice to play the free mode with a different character, or an endless eclipse mode, which is a survival styled mode with a set of rounds to complete. These modes offer the ability to play as one of the many characters that we unlock in the story mode, but it still remains bare-bone while lacking incentives to play it. There are some secrets like the gallery mode featuring artwork and to unlock them, we can try to attempt the main story missions with 100% completion, which is pretty easy to accomplish in most case.
Story is told through cutscenes that appear to be taken straight from the animated adoptions of Berserk. They are beautifully animated and are absolutely gorgeous. As someone who has yet to take a look at the series, I found the story and the cutscenes to be really interesting and after playing the game, I was interested in reading more about it. While the game does offer us majority of the key story events in gameplay, the implementation feels lackluster as the gameplay is repetitive and doesn’t offer a compelling experience.
While it is primarily a hack-and-slash game, there are some RPG elements integrated into it. Characters can earn experience points and level up and there are also a set of stats that seem to effect the outcome of battle. There isn’t really much to offer here as the stats mostly pertain to attack, defense and technique, the last of which doesn’t seem to do much in actual battle aside from allowing the player to unleash a frenzy mode where attacks do more damage. Still the game is easy enough that just sticking with the default missions and the experience points they offer should be more than enough to complete it.
We can also equip our characters with accessories, items and sub-weapons that can be utilized in battle. These are mostly trivial and for the items, they revolve around giving a temporary stat boost or offering unique bonus with kills. These items have limited use in battle and the same applies to the sub-weapons that recharge after a set amount of time once used. As for the equipment, the accessories provide a way to boost stats and once equipped, they can be further enhanced using some items to improve their efficiency and level. However this system feels rather basic and there are not many customization choices available to the player.
Berserk and the Band of the Hawk appears to be a faithful adaption of the cult classic series. It is unfortunate that while the developers have managed to successfully integrate the story, they haven’t really managed to incorporate it all in gameplay. There was a lot of potential to be had with this game and it is hard to not feel disappointed with how it all turned out in the end. Regardless, if you are a fan of the series, you can give this game a chance and hopefully you can enjoy your time with it.
Berserk and the Band of the Hawk Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Berserk and the Band of the Hawk, known in Japan as Berserk Musou is a hack-and-slash game developed by Omega Force and published by Koei Tecmo for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and Microsoft Windows. It is a collaboration between Koei Tecmo's Dynasty Warriors video game series and Kentaro Miura's Berserk manga series.
Berserk and the Band of the Hawk offers an interesting story full of action but fails to deliver on the gameplay. It is a game for the fans of the series but it should also serve as an introduction to newcomers.