Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a game that does most things poorly and everything else even worse. I find it difficult to think of another game that’s as disjointed and confused about itself as Battle Chasers: Nightwar. From the story that the player is thrust into with almost no setup or characterization to the uninspired gameplay that drags on and on, there’s really very little to be said in this game’s favor.
The gameplay is very typical JRPG turn-based combat, with the turn order being displayed on the left side of the screen and determined by each character’s Haste stat. Each move in combat has a different cast time, with your basic attacks and blocks being instant speed while your bigger moves use up mana and more time to activate. Strangely, the developers chose to set the party size for both you and the enemy to three, which is probably the worst option possible. One person alone is fine if it’s a solo story just about you, two people is good because then you have yourself and a friend to rely upon, four is good because then you have a full party wherein each person has their own role, but three exists in a twilight zone where things are either simplified too much to fit the ‘tank, dps, healer’ archetypes or aren’t simplified at all and you feel like you’re always lacking a team member. The way the action economy works in Battle Chasers would suggest the latter is true. Heals and shields always come out slowly and are generally weak, and healing and shielding leaves just one character open to attack enemies that have far more health than one character can manage.
The gear system in the game is one of feast or famine. Each piece of gear you get raises some stats but not others, and sometimes pieces will randomly boost one stat 10 times as much as its other stats. You can also enchant or craft gear at their respective workbenches, making the whole gear situation quite confusing. This, along with the fact that stats aren’t really explained and each character can’t specialize, makes it a headache to spec your characters.
There are two types of maps you explore, the overworld and different dungeons. You encounter enemies in both, but dungeons are a lot slower and more involved. Fights, as is JRPG tradition, drag on and become increasingly annoying to deal with as you play the game. Some fights are as simple as mashing E to keep attacking, while others demand more attention to deal with bigger enemies. However, the scaling is so out of wack at times that a seemingly simple fight can go haywire when enemies stat-check you into the dirt. The game paints itself as a JRPG in terms of gameplay, but doesn’t have the smooth, progressive scaling of one. The controls also feel like the game was meant more for a console or a mobile device, but they are serviceable.
The characters presented in the game remind me of a very ragtag game of Dungeons and Dragons. Characters scream “OC donut steel” while also being massive stereotypes. Their design is further confused by their gameplay not matching their thematics. The giant, steel automaton defender of the main character, a teenaged girl, is very sassy and speaks in a lot of quips while also using magic to heal allies, which is something one doesn’t normally expect to come from golems of any kind. He’s also a very squishy character in combat, despite him being a literal hulk of steel. The main character, only equipped with her father’s magic gauntlets, is somehow the tankiest member of the available party members despite being the last person that you should want taking damage (at least according to the story). The story is similarly all over the place. You start the game seemingly in the middle of the story with about two minutes of exposition, crash landing on some island. You’re then introduced to other characters, bandits, and even other races one after another with no rhyme or reason or actual introductions. There’s no setup, and you could easily swap out any character with another made up one, and it’d work just as well, making it hard to get invested in anyone.
The art design and sound are actually pretty good, though there are a few obvious priorities of the developers. Each move sounds unique and definitely had some thought put into the sound design. The characters are similarly easy to tell apart, although their looks do tend to fit stereotypes as well as their personalities. You’ve got ‘old wizard in a robe’, ‘giant robot with a glowy core’ and ‘hero knight dude with a giant sword and billowing cape’. Enemies are also easy to tell apart, even those of the same faction or race have very distinct colorings and outfits to distinguish their classes.
Overall, Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a game that you can play, and that’s the best way I can think to describe it. It’s not broken, it’s not god-awful crap that someone just flipped onto Steam to make a quick buck, but it doesn’t do anything amazingly or even all that well. Perhaps with some better writing (slow the story down, folks, I don’t even know the main character’s name and you’re throwing me onto some island that the main characters don’t even know about) and another look at the gameplay there could be a decent game worth playing, but in its current state I find it hard to recommend it.