Airship Syndicate is a new studio from the ashes of their first studio, Vigil Games. And Joe Madureira does it again with his turn-based RPG Battle Chasers.
An RPG That Belongs In That Past
When you consider where Battle Chasers: Nightwar comes from, it’s unsurprising why it likely reminds you of Darksiders. That’s because the same artist and studio founder for both Developers is one in the same. This time he decided to borrow from his personal works to inspire his next game. Vigil games may have hit hard times and shut down, but his passion for art and video games lives on, and Battle Chasers is a worthy next game.
Starting its short life on Kickstarter which was not only successful, but surpassed every stretch goal (after the Kickstarter closed). Earning over double of the requested amount. The game is based on the Comic Book of the same name, it takes inspiration from gaming greats such as Final Fantasy, Suikoden, Chrono Trigger, and Phantasy Star. Big name games like that aren’t exactly easy to live up to, but Joe and his team were well up to the task, and this game looks and feels like it belongs in their era of greatness.
Battle Chasers is a turn-based RPG (as if the names above didn’t give that away), that features handcrafted artwork, randomly generated dungeons, a 2-tiered combat system, puzzles, and plenty of strategy. It’s clear to see they were going for something with a deep, yet intuitive system to keep players coming back, and that’s exactly what it had me doing.
Battle Chasers: Nightwar begins with 4 of our main characters being ambushed in the sky and subsequently stranded on a strange island they didn’t intend to be on. After gathering their wits, Gully, Garrison, and Calibretto are off to find their friends so they can get off said island. As a result, they are dragged into much of the shenanigans going on in order to pursue their escape.
A large chunk of the story in the game is told in a non-linear fashion and allows those who care about lore to seek it out to get a deeper understanding of the world. And for those who just want a good combat system and things to hit, they can completely ignore them. There is no penalty for doing so, although you are rewarded with lore points which can be used to upgrade the characters different abilities. While the true key story elements will be told in a traditional way with gorgeous 2D animation for your eyes to enjoy.
Unique Combat to Keep You Engaged
But let’s get down to what most care about, the combat system. Battle Chasers: Nightwar starts with a fairly traditional system at heart, but quickly throws in some unique things. Such as the 2-tiered mana system; This allows players to build up mana per fight which can be used for abilities, even if you’ve run out of your standard mana. All you need to do is whack away at the enemy. Since you only regenerate health/mana with items, while resting at an Inn, or by leveling up, this is a nice feature as it allows you to continue your journey with less frequent stops.
The game also gives each character a unique “Dungeon Ability” which can only be used in dungeons. Depending on who you’re using (which can be swapped at will in dungeons), you can do things such as, but not limited to: Gaining an advantage in battle before it begins, reveal secret rooms/passages, stun enemies to avoid conflict, or heal the party.
As you make your way through the game you will level up, gain all sorts of new weapons and gear, upgrade towns for better prices and stock, build a bestiary, take part in an arena to test your might, and much more. The game has replayability packed into every facet of this as well. The bulk of which is in the randomly generating dungeons that include enemy spawns, treasure, secrets, rare vendors, shrines, NPCs, puzzles, and traps. You can even play those same dungeons again on harder difficulties for bigger dungeons and better rewards.
A Traditional JRPG Worth its Salt
All of this is wrapped up in a beautiful, hand-drawn package and filled with some of the best in-game music you’ve ever heard. Every unique area, dungeon, town, or boss fight fills your eyes and ears with something beautiful to look at. It’s a wonder to behold, and one of the best indie games I have played in a very long time.
Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a harkening back to the golden age of RPGs. Those games we love to talk about and fondly remember. I can say, without a doubt, that if this game had released back on Super Nintendo or PS1 days that this is a game that people would be talking about to this day. It would have pushed the bar higher and set industry standards. Even still, this is worth every penny. If you enjoy a good old-school JRPG, this is the game for you.
It is available on PS4, Xbox One, PC via Steam, with a planned release on Nintendo Switch next year. So, what are you waiting for? Go download this game!