Starting as a comic book series in the 1990’s, Battle Chasers, originally published by WildStorm before moving to Image Comics in the early 2000’s, follows the exploits of a small band of adventurers as they travel a fantasy world full of mystery and magic.
Battle Chasers: Nightwar is Airship Syndicate’s first game, and while the character development and plot have room for improvement, the team does an absolutely fantastic job creating compelling systems which make combat an absolute joy.
The studio’s signature visual flair, knack for crafting satisfying sound design, beautiful environments, and cool looking characters make this one of the absolute best RPGs available on Switch.
Gully has been looking for her father, the legendary hero Aramus, for years. After he vanished mysteriously, leaving behind his immensely powerful gauntlets, Gully set out to look for her father with one of his former war buddies, and a few other strange souls they met in their travels.
In their airship, the party approaches an island which, according to legend, hides a massive hoard of Mana, the substance which powers the world’s magic and technology.
Quickly attacked and shot down by bandits, the various party members must find each other and discover a way to escape, while struggling for survival against the dark forces quietly gathering strength in the wilds. Gully and her stalwart companions may have bitten off more than they can chew this time…
GAMEPLAY & CONTROLS
Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a party-based role playing game in which players control a team of three characters (out of six total) through the hazards of the a number of randomly generated (and repeatable) dungeons.
Dungeons have three difficulty settings, so players who want the best loot must steel themselves for Legendary mode, in which a full party death resets the dungeon completely.
Nightwar includes robust crafting, enchanting, and trading systems as well as a host of side quests and optional content including monster hunts, treasure maps, fishing, and much more.
Battle Chasers: Nightwar is full of interesting systems, but none stands out more than Overcharge. By using weak attacks, characters generate Overcharge, which can be used just like Mana, but unlike Mana, Overcharge disappears when the battle ends.
During combat, character actions will also charge the party’s Burst meter, which can be spent to fuel very powerful abilities. Each character can obtain different Burst abilities, and with each character’s different skills, perks, and Burst abilities, players will have a lot to consider when building their ideal team.
I did experience a few bugs during my time with the game, which included a temporary audio issue, a few visual hitches, some lag or frame stuttering, and two game crashes. I also walked through a corner where I shouldn’t have been able to, and ended up getting stuck, having to restart the game.
There are also a few quality of life improvements I would love to see, as things like being unable to equip upgraded equipment on players not currently in my party is a bit bothersome.
Overall, none of this detracted from the absolute delight the game is to play. The world is well designed, the random dungeons are fun to navigate, and character skills are varied and interesting, with tons of potential for synergy.
GRAPHICS & SOUND
The first thing that jumped out to me in promotional materials and trailers was the game’s impeccable sense of style. The gritty world and character design reminded me of the lavishly stylish art of some of my personal favorite comic book artists, like Joe Madureira, the artist behind the Darksiders comic book and video game series.
What I didn’t know at the time was the reason for the striking similarity; Madureira also did the art for Battle Chasers. Madureira and several other game development veterans from Darksiders’ development studio, Vigil Games, split off to create Airship Syndicate, and Battle Chasers: Nightwar is their first game.
Once I began playing the game, however, something equally stunning began to stand out; the game’s sound. Sound effects are crisp and everything, from the sound of my party’s hulking war golem smashing into an enemy, to the perfect rumble of the Switch’s HD Joy-Con is a pleasure.
(I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned rumble before in a review, but it’s so well done, and synergizes so perfectly with the game’s fantastic animations, that it stands apart from other games I’ve played. Just keep in mind this is only one of the many small touches that make this game such a joy to play.)
Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a visually arresting role-playing game, and I haven’t played a team-based RPG this good (or fun) in a long time. Creative mechanics and endless flair bring a fresh feeling to a genre as old as gaming itself.
Although the game could do with a few quality of life improvements and additions, and more polish could iron out some of the bugs I encountered, all I want to do is keep playing Battle Chasers, and I sincerely hope Airship Syndicate ends up making a sequel, because there is nothing out there quite like it.
Although some may balk at the $40 asking price, there is a ton of content here and it all comes in an incredibly stylish package. Airship Syndicate offers a refreshingly well designed game from top to bottom, and with a 30 hour campaign and around 60 hours of content total, there is a lot to love.
Once I began playing, all I wanted to do was keep chasing that high, from one battle to the next.
Platform – Nintendo Switch eShop Download, Amazon Physical
Publisher – THQ Nordic
Developer – Airship Syndicate
Release Date – May 15, 2018
Price – $39.99
Genre – Role-Playing, Action
Players – 1
Size – 2.6 GB
Brian Barnett has loved video games ever since his uncle Jimmy introduced him to them at the ripe old age of five. His wife, Audrey, was also introduced to video games by her uncle, lending credence to Brian’s theory that behind every gamer, there is a cool uncle.
Since playing Super Mario Bros. on the NES, Brian has had a passion for Nintendo games. The first thing he did when he started earning money was save up and buy himself a Game Boy, and they quickly became inseparable. Through the years, this led to his special love of portable game consoles, so the release of the Switch is the perfect storm of Nintendo action he has been waiting for.
In addition to his gaming obsession, Brian enjoys playing drums, writing and listening to music, and hosting a weekly video game and nerd culture podcast.
He is an extrovert, and loves talking about and playing games with others, so let him know if you want to team up and play together!
Plays: Switch, New 3DS, SNES, NES, GBA, PC, Xbox One, PS4, Vita