Berserk and the Band of the Hawk (PS4) Review

I think it needed more guts.

Anyone who has read this site over the last few years has seen my fair share of Musou game reviews. I have played the classic Dynasty Warriors, Samurai Warriors, One Piece, Bleach, Zelda, and many others. All usually have some interesting concepts to them, while still being a mindless hack ‘n slash game. After many years, we’re finally getting a Musou game based on the popular manga/anime series Berserk. It makes sense, right? Medieval warriors with giant swords slay numerous foes with a single swing. It just screams Musou. Unfortunately, with some rather bland implements, Berserk and the Band of the Hawk ends up being a rather uneventful and rather boring experience.

Berserk spans numerous areas of the anime, starting in the Golden Age with Guts encountering and eventually joining up with the Band of the Hawk led by the skillful Griffith. Throughout Guts’ travels, he will encounter many allies and foes both in human form and, of course, mutated demon spawn, all of which will be chopped up into bits in due time anyway.

MSRP: $59.99
Price I’d pay: $20
Platforms: PS4, Vita

In the same vein as pretty much any other Warriors game, Berserk has players controlling a character as they roam around a battlefield attacking large groups of enemies with screen clearing attacks. Things start off simple, and honestly remain that way even after leveling up a good amount. There are the standard attacks using the square button, and a more heavy attack with the triangle button. Combining these attacks will result in a combo/finisher attack that can do pretty decent damage. Leveling up will offer up more attacks and combos, but for the most part, things don’t change up much.

After battles, players will level up their characters, and equip/buy new useable items and stat boosting items which can be upgraded using materials. All of this has been seen in previous Musou games. There’s a decent amount here, but pretty standard stuff with inventory and stat increases.

Attacking builds up a meter that, when full, can trigger Frenzy mode, where attacks are stronger and will dismember enemies until the gauge is depleted. Dismembering enemies will fill up a meter that will allow for the ultimate attack – the Death Blow attack that pretty much clears the screen of enemies. It’s an interesting two step system that adds a bit to the gameplay, but it never changes up. At all. Usually, there are multiple attacks or even different looking abilities. Here, it is all the same; even the animations look the same.

While in battle, each mission has objectives and areas players must go to and complete in order to win the mission. It’s all standard Warriors stuff. Some objectives may be timed, or players may have to protect an ally from enemies so there are other things that can result in a failed mission, but it never got too difficult for me.

The biggest issue I have with Berserk is the fact that the combat, both in attacking and moving, feels overly slow for a Musou game. I get that Guts wields a giant sword, but even many of the smaller, “faster” characters feel a bit too slow, making the action methodical and stale after a few hours. On top of all that, in the story mode there are constant battles that take place on a one on one scale. These are some of the most boring missions in the game due to the combat being so slow and the combos never changing. Not to mention most boss enemies usually block the first two or three attacks, drawing out the fight even more.

One thing I have to mention, the cut scenes on offer here are gorgeous and abundant. The story mode really shows off the anime, particularly from the movie trilogy a few years ago. It was always nice to see, either in between missions or even during special mission events.

There is a special wave-based mission mode called Infinite Eclipse Mode, where players dive deeper and deeper into the mad world of demons and other ungodly creatures, where the player must complete missions for certain people while continuously taking on mission after mission. The farther they go, the better the rewards. If the players stops playing or if they die, they have to start over. Granted, there are intervals where the game allows players to start once they make it to a certain level. This is a more condensed mode where the action is non-stop for the most part. I actually enjoyed this mode more than the story mode due to it not having half as many boss fights in it.

Technically, this is a solid game. I could easily see 50 or 60 enemies on screen and the game never slowed down or skipped a beat. While it’s not the best looking game out there, it at least runs well and rather impressively.

While I think a Berserk fan will get the most out of this game, Musou fans may find it a bit of a slog when it comes to the combat. Even when the Musou attacks have a different mechanic to them, the same attack over and over again gets boring after a while. The one on one fights are the worst part of the game by a long shot, but even then the fact that most things don’t change up over time really brings down the entire experience. Only big Berserk fans should try this one, and even then I’d say wait for a price cut.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

Good

  • Technically sound
  • Great cutscenes
  • Infinite Eclipse Mode

Bad

  • Slow/boring combat
  • One on One fights
  • Not enough variety
5.5

Mediocre

Drew is the Community Manager here at ZTGD and his accent simply woos the ladies. His rage is only surpassed by the great one himself and no one should stand between him and his Twizzlers.

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