Yep, it’s that time again – time to talk about crowdfunding. I’m not going to go over the usual complaints – you’ve played Mighty No. 9, or rather let’s hope you haven’t since it was mediocre at best. Instead, today we’re going to look at Battle Chasers: Nightwar, a game that almost certainly couldn’t have existed without crowdfunded help. It’s a solid RPG adventure and a real labor of love that excels in every area, particularly if we’re talking about its visuals.
After an airship crash, Gully and her companions – Calibretto the golem, Garrison the warrior, Knolan the mage and Red Monika the rogue – are separated and scattered across a mysterious land. She’ll need to find her friends and explore the land searching for information about her lost father and the mysterious evil that he’d left to battle. All the while, she’s being hunted by dark forces thanks to her father’s legacy: a pair of superpowered gauntlets. If you were a comic book fan in the late 1990s, this might all sound familiar to you, given that this is based on a popular series created by Joe Madureira for WildStorm during that period.
In practice, this is a Japanese-style RPG, meaning you’ve got turn-based combat mixed with real-time exploration and adventure. Characters have unique abilities they can use during exploration such as healing, a ground slam and a dash attack; these are valuable for both puzzle-solving and for providing an advantage upon entering combat. Battles, meanwhile, are turn-based in the timeline style popularized by games like Final Fantasy X – you can prioritize your attacks and defenses because you know precisely when enemy and ally turns alike are going to come up.
There’s also a definite bent toward synergizing attacks between characters, like having Garrison slash an enemy so they’re bleeding before Calibretto follows up with a gun attack that does additional damage to bleeding enemies. Combat grows in depth and complexity as the game progresses, adding new features like a Burst meter that can be spent on powerful special attacks.
This was one of the early Kickstarter success stories and it shows in the large amount of extracurricular content that’s been included throughout the game. I might complain about crowdfunding, but when the system works, it works – the full-fledged fishing and crafting aspects of Nightwar are testament to that, as are the game’s incredibly gorgeous graphics. Along with the extra dungeons and content added by stretch goal successes, Nightwar ends up feeling fairly dense with content.
As mentioned, this is one of the better-looking games to release in some time. Nightwar aims for a sort of stylized comic book style as expected given its pedigree and simply knocks it out of the park. Attack animations from both allies and enemies are glorious, still art used for story scenes is memorable and even the most mundane dungeon location has a look and feel all its own. Sound-wise the game isn’t fully voice acted, but what’s there works, and music and sound effects are both superlative; in particular I’m fond of the cringe-inducing crunches that accompany Calibretto’s punching attacks.
In an era where people are (rightly) nervous about crowdfunding after multiple failures and scams, Battle Chasers: Nightwar serves as a paragon of what the model was initially intended to accomplish. It’s a lovely game with plenty of content and engaging combat. It’s also a title that probably couldn’t exist had people not stopped up to fund it – even if the money didn’t pay for the entire game, it certainly showed that there was interest. Would that all Kickstarters could produce such grand results!