Thanks to Xbox for the code for this one!

A Joe Mad Game!

I didn't really know much about Battle Chasers to begin with, so I had a poke around the net and found a few things. I noted Joe Mad as the artist behind the comic, and the game and I loved his designs for Darksiders. So, yeah, I was in the moment that Joe Mad was mentioned.

I did some more digging and found various videos, I liked what I saw, so I sat back and watched the game evolve. Flash forward to recently, it came out onto the Xbox One and PS4 and I was given a code for review. I still liked what I saw, and now I'm going to share some of my findings with you all.

J-RPG, Modern Design

Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a slicky designed old-school J-RPG with modern systems and ideas. It works as a neat package and the only place it really falls flat is some of the characterisation, and story elements. Everything else is really neat and has a hefty layer of polish upon it that marks the game as a good one. So, how do you chase that battle or whatever you want to do?

Overworld

The game has several phases, there's the overworld map phase where you can explore a neatly designed, beautifully drawn map of the world moving with your titular group of Battle Chasers characters. A party of 3, formed via a rest spot or menu inside an Inn. At first you'll only have 3 heroes to choose from since you must find the others (part of the story) and as per J-RPG standards you can only have 3 heroes active at any one time.

Towns appear on the overworld as part of the whole thing, you can explore them, visit shops and undertake side quests. We're not going too deep into that, but there's some neat stuff and the game does a good job of imparting the information in tutorials, as well as with the guide.

On the overworld map you'll find places of interest, monster encounters, and other things like resources which can be used for the fairly neat crafting system. From the overworld map you can enter points of interest and explore them in the Exploration Area map.

Exploration

Here it's an Isometric 3d, beautifully created and gorgeously animated view upon the world that has a comic quality and some truly spectacular backgrounds. You can find secrets, NPCs, hidden resources and story clues throughout these areas. You can switch your heroes at any time here with the bumpers, they might have a skill that helps you unlock a secret or heal some damage from a combat.

Dungeon

Then there are Dungeon Areas, these are the big randomly generated (through a tile method) locations that you'll get story, quests, and more inside. They have random events that trigger throughout the dungeon and your hero party of 3 all have dungeon skills. These skills range from being able to group heal, to smashing down weak walls, finding secrets and invisible creatures in the shadows and so on.

They have a limited number of uses.

You'll also find fishing spots where you can dabble in the fishing mini-game. It's not a bad little mini-game and it feels simple, works, rewards you with a nice bit of downtime from the fighting you'll be doing. You also get fish chunks which can be sold to a collector for Shadow Coins. These can be used to buy cool gear from the same shop, though it's usually really high level stuff and more for End Game.

Battles

When you get into a fight the screen changes to a 2d/3d side on view of the action, entering a turn-based mode that will make a lot of J-RPG fans happy. Here you can choose various actions, use items, trigger special moves and do all the things that are the hallmark of this kind of battle system. Battle Chasers can use Bursts, which are the super bar, special move, epic attacks that charge up based on normal attacks and abilities.

They do various things too, like doing damage over time, healing and purging the group from wounds/debuffs and all the good stuff you've come to expect from the genre.

As you use normal attacks you generate overcharge, which vanishes at the end of a battle. Overcharge can be used as a replacement for mana (this powers your abilities) and can add some extra zap to an ability based power. The key here is ensuring you keep your mana for really tough fights, or ensure you have enough overcharge that mana isn't an issue.

If your group is KO'd, you can replay that fight again, but you're likely to lose some gold if you quit the dungeon ... and the dungeon can reset upon the Legendary difficulty setting.

The combat here is tactical, deep, and clever. It's a nice take on J-RPG standards and you should find a lot to like within the combat system.

Loot

You're going to find loot in chests, from battles, and other sneaky places. There's a decent inventory and equipment management section to the game. Loot has random abilities and there's a crafting system that supports upgrading gear. That's all I can really say about that.

Nifty Systems

You have access to the menu which provides you with a nice set of sub-menus to poke around, the bestiary is fantastic, and it offers Beast Perks. Little bonuses gained when you kill x-beasties in the game world. You might get a 1% health increase for all your heroes, or some kind of buff against that kind of beast. Looking in the bestiary tells you what you get for each kind of perk unlock challenge.

Heroes also get Perks as they level up, these are little skills that change the way they function, they can be swapped out as well and they cost various points as you get better versions. You can equip as many as you can with all the points that you have earned and any you un-equip are refunded.

It's simple, effective and works really well.

The Inventory management is solid, the gear equipping works nicely and you can see what effect a weapon, armour, and so on has on your hero as you choose that bit of kit.

Heroes

You have Gully, a kick ass kiddo that has a pair of power gloves. This kid can pack a punch and is a heavy hitter.

Garrison is your fighter type, he's cool, stoic and hits really hard. He can make enemies really bleed.

Calibretto is a sentient War Golem, badass, friend to the birds and as well as delivering some powerful attacks, he can heal and debuff the group if they're suffering bad effects.

Knolan is a sarcastic old wizard, he summons tentacles from eldritch dimensions and hits pretty hard. He can also heal really well and has a bunch of elemental powers.

Red Monika is a dangerous rogue-pirate type, bombs and lethal assassination moves are her maintstay and she's got a range of attacks that work well from stealth.

Artistic Carnage

Joe Mad has a unique style which drove Darksiders and it's prevalent here in Battle Chasers. It's a gorgeously made game, runs smoothly, and looks really nice on Xbox One. The whole thing has an anime/comic vibe to it and the graphics are excellent. The animation is pitch perfect and reminds me of a fighting game like Guilty Gear. There's a lot of time and effort gone into every aspect of the game's art/design/aesthetic, and creation, it shows.

Saves

The save system is based on checkpoints, and you can trigger a save via quit to menu. There's no save anywhere function, so expect to roll back a little if you die, but not too far.

Chasing Perfection

It's not quite perfect, there's some story and character flatness, there's some issues I have with the difficulty curve here and there. They're minor issues in a game that's as beautiful, accessible, and as aesthetically pleasing as this one. If you like J-RPGs, you might do worse than give Battle Chasers: Nightwar a go.