Wednesday, 22 February 2017 09:15

REVIEW: Berserk And The Band Of The Hawk (PS4)

Written by Stacefacemayhem
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Aww Anime, one minute you can be so cute and innocent, then the next minute if you don’t do your research you're in the world of the dark, violent and twisted, as though being given a lollipop and then turning around and being punched in the face. This is the latter. ‘Berserk: The Band of the Hawk’ developed by Omega Force and published by Koei Tecmo, is the classic one vs the thousands, hack and slash, and is very reminiscent of The Darksiders.

‘Berserk’ is based off the gory and blood-soaked manga and anime by Kentaro Miura. You initially begin your journey as the ever so flatteringly named Guts, a lone wolf pack-less mercenary with his huge sword (which is desperately over compensating for something) who just can’t escape his past as much as he tries. Eventually you meet the charismatic and uptight Griffith and his band of merry men (and women) infamously known as ‘The Band of the Hawk’, together you travel the lands often torn between moral and physical battles of good and evil. Now if you aren’t a connoisseur of manga and anime, don’t rush out to get a heads up on the plot, as this game covers the premise of the original story pretty closely. A really nifty feature is that loading screens also fill you in with tidbits of the backstory, so it is easy to piece it all together.

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Each cut scene, cell shady and dark, feels as if they have been lifted straight out of the show, to be honest they probably have been, Berserk is an old anime now. Some of these scenes in-between battles are quite long, and you’d be a fool to not expect subtitles from a Japanese anime based game, my only annoyance by this though was the lack of warning to buy some popcorn for all the drama.

Now we could all get into the age-old debate about videogames and violence. Omega obviously get this, rating the game M and giving you the ability to turn down the gore factor. So of course, after a mad day at work and a review deadline to meet, up went the gore volume for me, and boy did the limbs fly and heads roll. The game plays out like any other typical hack and slash thriller. You have a base attack, heavy attack and a dodge. What is a little different is the Frenzy gauge, which you fill with combos and kills, meaning once activated will deal bulk damage while losing no health. Fill this gauge with their souls and you can unlock a finishing brutal death blow move that is vital when a boss battle arrives.

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Omega Force were also the driving force behind another manga inspired game I have reviewed previously, Attack on Titan: Wings of Freedom. The menus, leveling, items and gameplay are all very, very familiar, and like the aforementioned most chapters or ‘battles’ are lackluster fights in pretty linear environments. The real boss fights (not the casual buffed up minions with a bit of extra health) are where the real excitement lies.

The game is sorted into 3 distinct modes. Story Mode is a series of battles with challenges and objectives that need to be complete before the boss arrives or the mission is accomplished. The time it takes, bonuses you pick up and challenges completed negate how much experience points you receive. Experience points are used to level up your character. Speaking of leveling, the game pretends to be stat driven with 4 rudimentary areas; vitality (health), Attack, Defense, and Technique (Specials). There is the RPG element of items used during the game to boost stats or to sell for stone cold cash, but my problem is it is a weak stab at customization. You could boost stats till the proverbial hordes of cows come home, but at the end of the day a level 20 Guts still is cumbersome and strong, and Griffith is still agile and fast, and they handle exactly the same as if they were level 1.

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Free Mode is as simple are replaying your favorite battles as other unlocked characters. The Endless Eclipse Mode was tedious, monotonous but oddly addictive. Essentially, it just has you picking a character you would like to fight wave after wave of the same type of enemies, with bosses sprinkled within each layer. At every 5 layers you get to return to base camp and replenish your supplies, so the motivation you may ask? Each base camp has ‘Desires’, in essence rewards. The things you do for in game resources and money huh. The big reward for that character is waiting at the end in the ‘Abyss’...the 100th layer. I fell for it hook line and sinker, and spent so much time in the Endless Eclipse Mode doing the same thing over and over, rather than advancing the story. I did have a pretty dope jacket for Guts though after all of it, just saying.

Overall, Berserk is a surprisingly entertaining bloody romp. Gameplay can be a bit repetitive but sometimes you need a good simple hack em’ up game to clear the bad vibes and to let off some steam. Would I recommend buying it? Sure, it beats having to watch an anime series or read a collection of manga and you get the added bonus of being included in taking names and .. body parts.

Additional Info

  • Review Score: 4.0 / 5.0
  • Release Date: Out Now
  • Platform: PS4
  • Developer: Omega Force
  • Publisher: Koei Tecmo
  • Genre: Action / Adventure, Role-Playing