Battle Chasers: Nightwar Preview
Nordic is one of the busiest publishers in the business these days with an absolutely ludicrous number of games under their umbrella. From Darksiders 2 and Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition to the amazing The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, they have worked with many of the best independent studios in the gaming world. Showing no signs of slowing down they brought four games to E3 this year but none stuck out as much as the upcoming turn-based RPG Battle Chasers: Nightwar.
Harkening back to the days of old-school turn-based RPGs like Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger, Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a decidedly Western take on a much-missed genre. Seeing a resurgence in popularity as of late, especially with the upcoming I Am Setsuna seeing favorable attention, it would seem that fans of the genre have a ton to look forward to here.
Developed by Airship Syndicate, a small studio helmed by famed comics artist/writer Joe Madureira, Battle Chasers is based on a comic series created by Joe himself that debuted in the late 90s and bounced around between both Image and DC Comics over the course of its run. Plagued by long gaps between issues it likely never reached its true potential and even missed out on its last issue when Joe decided to make a jump into game development. Despite this, the Battle Chasers comics gained something of a cult status among fans. Joe’s magical way of melding Western culture with Japanese manga stylings struck a chord with many which may also be why his run on Uncanny X-Men from 94-97 is remembered as one of the best.
Jumping forward we’ve seen Joe have a ton of success in gaming with the Darksiders franchise, which he was a creative director on, and he’s now passionately bringing to life his original characters from Battle Chasers. Five characters have been brought together by fate and essentially become a band of very unlikely heroes. The story within the game is said to pick up where the comic book series effectively left off, but to get started let’s get you familiar with your team.
First up is Gully, the daughter of a famed warrior, Aramus who has left her with a pair of magic gloves that grant her superhuman strength and invincibility. Despite being a young 9 years of age these over-sized gloves give the little firecracker the power to take down even the gnarliest of demons with ease.
Next, we have Garrison, a fitting name for a beast of a man who is essentially a one-man army. Wielding a powerful sword that has the ability to cut a bloody path through anything, or anyone in its way, Garrison was a student of Aramus. A master swordsman, Garrison is introduced as a drunken wreck mourning the death of his beloved bride-to-be who decides to clean his act up after learning the daughter of his mentor has disappeared.
Knolan, is a gnarly old wizard with an attitude problem who has the power of bending the elements to his will. Think Avatar, but older and with a big mouth. Over the course of the story it is implied that Knolan is on borrowed time, which makes sense seeing that he’s old as dirt, and at the very least gives him an excuse for being as sarcastic and belligerent as he is; he’s earned it.
Calibretto, the ancient War Golem is the team’s tank, although this denies his very nature as a pacifist. He’d be more inclined to go for a walk through the forest than to face off with a villainous evildoer, and this is despite the fact he sports cannons for arms amongst a bevy of other weapons in his arsenal.
Rounding out the team is Red Monika, the ‘Jessica Rabbit’ of the Battle Chasers world as Joe once put it. A female rogue, she accidentally lets loose a number of powerful baddies during an attempt to rescue a compatriot. This is the event that triggers the whole story and brings all the characters together. She has a history with Garrison but they are now on opposite sides of right and wrong. Although never a main member of the team during the comic book run, she is still a major character in the story.
Having had a chance to sit with Joe to talk about bringing Battle Chasers: Nightwar to life, he mused on what it took to bring these characters he created on paper to fruition in a fully voiced video game. “One thing I had never considered, not even once, was what any of these characters would sound like,” Joe laughed, “When we got started on the game I remember someone asking me what Monika would sound like and I was all geeze, I’ve never really thought about that!”
The most important part of the meeting with Joe, however, was the chance to see Battle Chasers: Nightwar in action. Admittedly, I’m a bit of a superfan (who regrettably left his copy of Battle Chasers #1 at home) so being able to see these characters come to life in front of my eyes was pretty special. Taking it up another level was the fact that the Active Time Battle system I came to love in Chrono Trigger was how the real meat of the game’s combat would go down. Watching someone else play was killing me a little inside but I got a very solid look at how the game played and it’s truly shaping up to be everything you old school JRPG fans would hope for. It won’t be a cakewalk either, as demonstrated by an absolutely epic battle I watched against a giant War Golem that fired more rockets than a July 4th fireworks extravaganza.
Everything from the enemies to the randomly generated dungeons to the attack animations is of the highest quality and seeing Battle Chasers in motion is a treat. The same level of detail that fans saw from Joe Mad in his comic book endeavors are what they’ll get in this game. Attention to detail, whether it be visually or in gameplay are of the highest importance to Joe. Not only that, it was easy to see his commitment to the game being the best it could be. He’s not just the guy providing the characters and story, but he has a strong background understanding of how the game works too. Joe grew up playing these games and it was obvious as he playfully barked orders to the gentleman playing the demo, “show them this move, watch for that attack!”
If you’re a fan of those old school RPGs I mentioned, a fan of Battle Chasers, or just a fan of Joe Madureira himself you can rest assured that Battle Chasers: Nightwar is in extremely capable hands. If this game wasn’t on your radar before, I’m telling you it really should be. We’ll be watching this game closely here on COG and can’t wait to see more of what Airship Syndicate is bringing to the table.