Comic-turned-RPG Battle Chasers: Nightwar is out now

Battle Chasers

I’m not entirely sure how Battle Chasers: Nightwar [official site] has flown under my radar for so long. It feels like one of those games that has always been just on the periphery of my awareness. I know that it was a respectable success on Kickstarter. I know that it’s a hybrid of ARPG adventuring with JRPG style combat. I know that it’s based on a cult ’90s comic series by Darksiders creative director Joe Madureira, and now I know that it has been released.

I also know (on account of putting it there) that the incredibly ’90s animated intro is just after the jump.

It’s like the intro to the best ’90s action cartoon that never existed, isn’t it? Joe Mad’s ‘Anime is cool, but let’s make it BUFF’ art style is unmistakable, too. Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a revival of short-lived comic series Battle Chasers, which ran through the end of the ’90s and hasn’t seen a new issue printed in 16 years. Word from Joe Mad and crew is that the comic will finally get its planned ending in a handful of new issues to be released sometime after the game.

The game itself is a hybrid of isometric action-RPGing as you navigate the overworld, dungeons and their various obstacles and traps. Evading hazards plays out in real time, but when you bump into something nasty that isn’t made of spikes or fire, it switches to a turn-based, JRPG-style combat engine thick with over-the-top attack animations. The official site also mentions that there are randomly generated dungeons, which is always a tempting proposition.

In addition to the original cast of the comic, the game brings adds one more protagonist to the mix, thanks to clearing a major Kickstarter stretch goal; newly designed demon-hunter Alumon, as seen Castlevania’ing it up with his chain-whip in the intro above. I’ve heard broadly positive things about the game, and hope to find some time to give it a proper look sometime in the coming weeks.

Battle Chasers: Nightwar is available now for £25/€30/$30 on Steam and GOG.

22 Comments

  1. LearningToSmile says:

    It’s a surprisingly well-realized game – the environments look good, and the animations are nice.

    I got it after watching a bit of high level gameplay on a twitch stream, and I got to say, the beginning is really slow and relatively boring compared to the options that open in combat in later levels.

    Also, while there is a bit of real time dungeon exploring, I think it’s worth noting that it really isn’t an equal part of the experience – the turn based combat feels like the meat and bones of Battle Chasers.

    Oh, and last but not least, there’s also a fishing minigame, as there should be in any self-respecting RPG.

    • Kitsunin says:

      Indeed. Know why Torchlight is better than Diablo? Fishing minigame. Why is Stardew Valley better than Harvest Moon/Story of Seasons? Fishing exists as a minigame. Why are Final Fantasy VI, XII, and XV the only good ones? Fishing.

      • Rackam says:

        Same reason why Breath of Fire as a series is so good. Same reason why Ocarina of Time was so well regarded. Dark cloud? Fishing! Pokemon?! Path of Exile’s darkest secrets involve fishing.

        It’s like there’s a hidden pedigree amongst developers hiding a linage of fishing mini-game appreciation.

  2. KingFunk says:

    Just watched a gameplay video of this and I like the look of it. Currently playing Tales of Berseria and rather enjoying it, but turn-based combat has always been my preference in JRPGs, particularly after playing so much Persona 5 this year.

    This might just be the game I’m looking for so will definitely be keeping an eye on it…

  3. Someoldguy says:

    To echo the comment above, don’t be fooled by the low level content. It’s easy and there aren’t many options, but that changes.

    I love the look and feel of the dungeons. My only complaint is that the random dungeon aspect can really bite if you want to trigger a specific encounter. I’ve done the Iron Outpost more than 10 times now and still haven’t found one encounter that I need to meet twice to unlock certain things. It’s taken the shine off what has otherwise been a very fun romp.

  4. DanMan says:

    To all the “No Tux, no bux” people:

    “Linux version coming soon”: link to steamcommunity.com

  5. lagiacrux says:

    waiting for the switch version. will definitly buy it then.

  6. AngoraFish says:

    Watched the intro and I still have no clear what the game is about.

    Still, no need to enlighten me. I’m sure there will be many articles about the game to follow before it reaches a sale price at which I might be willing to cough up cash.

    • Premium User Badge

      Phasma Felis says:

      It’s about a bunch of chicks and dudes beating up monsters and skellingtons. Obviously. Seriously, get your eyes checked.

  7. LTK says:

    Always a pity when a game has a title that’s so generic you forget about it the moment your eyes move on to the next line.

    • Eight Rooks says:

      That’s funny: it was always the art that got me interested in the comic, not “OMG it’s called Battle Chasers! It must be good!” or whatever.

      I will get this at some point – the original comic is one of my favorite pieces of maximalist cheese ever, and for my money one of the few titles to really do something artistic with that design aesthetic and the 90s glowing neon color palette every artist working for Image, Top Cow et al seemed obliged to use. But eh, too many games, not much monies, and I’m trying to forego picking up anything new at all until I’ve really made some progress on the countless other things I want to play. I’m glad to see it getting positive coverage, though, and I hope it sells.

      • Scandalon says:

        You misunderstood what they said. They’re saying “This looks like it might be good, too bad their name is so generic I forget what it’s called”.

        • Eight Rooks says:

          “no u”, basically: I’m saying if I see something with art that floors me at first glance, then I make a mental note to never forget it. Maybe the original poster has some kind of weird pathological aversion to the word ‘battle’ that means their power of recall shuts down the moment they see it in print, but I can’t say that’s ever happened to me. If I forget the title, then I almost certainly didn’t think whatever it was applied to was that interesting in the first place, and I don’t go around claiming “Well if only it was called Correct Horse Battery Staple then maybe I’d have bought it”.

  8. draglikepull says:

    The turn-based combat in the game is a lot of fun, especially (as commenters above have noted) once you get a few hours in and there are more options available. The Overcharge meter is a smart system, and I often find myself trying to coordinate actions between characters rather than just mashing whatever ability does the highest damage. It’s also a fantastic looking game.

    My main complaint is that there’s basically no story. The overworld map is node-based, and even the main town in the game is just a series of nodes, not a place you can walk around. It plays sort of like if you took a game like Torchlight and replaced the combat system with a turn-based one.

    Which is not necessarily a bad thing, but you should know that 80-90% of your time in this game will be spent in combat; there’s no real story or exploration to speak of.

  9. ben_reck says:

    It’s got a plot and each dungeon/location contributes a bit to that plot. Said dungeons seemed to offer plenty of exploration; you do have to poke around some to find all of the avenues and they’re hardly two-dimensional in feel.

    Maybe it doesn’t have the most sophisticated of plots, but it’s all so pleasing to behold and play that I don’t care.

  10. PancakeWizard says:

    I backed this on KS because it’s Joe Mad and, you know, Darksiders. I will say however I dislike the title. Joe seems to have this thing for bombastic sounding titles that have little to do with what’s going on in the game. I guess that’s just part of his shtick.

    It’s very much a love letter to JRPGs with a Western twist. It’s good enough to hold my interest, but not for extended periods as the combat (at least in the first few hours) is very samey and not challenging at all. When I got the Junktown it more or less kicked me in the nuts all of a sudden.

    I could see it being an absolute best-seller on an iPad.

  11. MikoSquiz says:

    Wow is it gorgeous.

    But it looks like you spend a lot of time waiting for animations to finish and also a JRPG-style combat system is always alarming; there’s been a lot of development and variation on the style but I’ve yet to see anyone really do a decent job of making the baseline cribbed-from-1983-Spectrum-RPGs system of mostly choosing “attack” from a menu compelling. Those crude remnants of early Wizardry and Ultima titles hanging around forever made an awful lot of JRPGs a tiresome chore to play.

    • LearningToSmile says:

      You only really choose regular attacks at the very start to build up your overcharge meter, then you choose from a variety of different abilities suitable to each situation/enemy.

      For example if you’re facing a single hard hitting enemy you might want to make your tank character just taunts and defends while the healer focuses on keeping him up with single target heals, but if you’re against multiple enemies whose attacks do a bunch of low damage hits it would be better to use a spell that heals you for a bit every time you take damage.

      There are also bursts, which are more powerful versions of abilities that can be used after building up the burst meter – but since burst meter is global you have to choose whether to do more damage or save it for a mass heal.

      Then as the game progresses keeping track of debuffs and removing them before they do serious damage becomes crucial. Oh, and there are also curses.

      This is combined with a perk system, that can be swapped on the fly between battles and grants you passive abilities as well as upgrades your active abilities. So you might want to swap up to different perks before a tough boss fight.

      Trust me, the depth is there.

  12. racccoon says:

    Doesn’t look too bad :) link to youtu.be

  13. Scandalon says:

    I feel this Penny Arcade post/comic is relevant: link to penny-arcade.com

    Mostly because I really don’t get the love/attraction for it, as it seems a JRPG with a Torchlight/WoW look.

    • ben_reck says:

      I don’t know that referring to it as a JRPG helps all that much. It has turn-based combat with basic, mana-consuming, and then burst-meter attack options. There’s a fair bit of decision-making that kicks in around level 10 or so, as you try to advance or replay a dungeon on legendary.

      Each character also has dungeon exploration skills that you can trigger to give you various edges in encounters. And there are a couple of simple skill trees per character as well.

      I expect it’ll get some more reviews, perhaps here, def elsewhere.

      In any case, it has engulfed my weekend.

  14. Billtvm says:

    Is it anything like Darkest Dungeon. The description surely makes it sound so?

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