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Review: Battle Chasers: Nightwar (Nintendo Switch)By The Strat Man At 07.07.2018 20:09

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The short answer is very well indeed, despite one or two caveats. Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a 40-hour-plus JRPG adventure, which lends itself very well to a portable platform, since players can do short stints wherever a spare fifteen minutes presents itself. Sure, reviewers raise this as a plus point for almost anything that finds its way onto Switch, but since there's such a huge emphasis on grinding here, it cannot be underestimated how much the portability factor enhances the title overall. Many owners on different platforms deemed the efforts required to keep the whole team battle-worthy quite excessive, but the Switch version alleviates some of this tension because it's easier to get stuck in here and there. In addition, the XP system has been tweaked so that level progression is a tad faster and purchasable buffs have been added, which also improve matters. On top of that, minor skirmishes with 'lesser' enemies can now be avoided once the team is strong enough. All of this helps to ensure things never feel pointlessly laborious or testing.

Although Battle Chasers: Nightwar picks up from where the comic book series ended, it's somewhat of a side-story tangent rather than a progression of the existing narrative. Garrison is the legendary swordsman, Calibretto the gentle war golem, Knolan the old wizard, Monika the red-head bounty hunter, and Alumon the monster hunter accompanying nine-year-old Gully, aboard their airship - and trying to locate her missing father. However, this pursuit is compromised when they are shot down by mercenaries over a strange island, thus beginning the team's endeavour to get to the bottom of another mystery. Airship Syndicate certainly establishes this new setting quite expertly. It's difficult to honour existing lore whilst establishing a new location, characters and plot parameters, but Battle Chasers: Nightwar achieves this feat without stretching itself. The pacing of these new discoveries is well laid out and delivered with poise, and things remain gripping throughout. It is a tangent, but feels well implemented within the existing Battle Chasers universe, rather than an excuse for a blank canvas in order not to put off newcomers.

Perhaps the most successful aspect, and the key reason why it's so addictive, is how it honours the JRPG formula whilst simultaneously putting a modern slant on things. At the core of any successful game of this genre is a deep and intricate turn-based combat system, and Battle Chasers: Nightwar certainly shines in this department. On the surface, it is all quite familiar, but two new mechanics - overcharge and burst - really freshens things up. The former builds up when characters use standard (non-mana) attacks, providing opportunities to deal more damage with extra mana-power and the use of special abilities. Burst is an independent gauge, which applies to the whole team and builds up gradually during combat. Once charged, it enables some of the more interesting special character abilities and attacks, which can be upgraded as progress is made. It's an interesting dual dynamic, which keeps the pathway to success varied, and players experimenting throughout. Considering the huge array of items and buffs also available, everything seems extremely well balanced, which is quite a feat.

The other way in which Battle Chasers: Nightwar modernises the JRPG formula is in its approach to dungeons. Most of these are procedurally generated, which, despite what you might think, does not at all work against how memorable they are. They seem just as crafted and well-orchestrated as the developer-designed ones, and this approach ensures no two dungeon slogs are the same experience. It adds a great deal of replay value, helping to keep things fresh for players grinding their characters up to scratch for their next objective. In addition, before entering, it is possible to set the difficulty, which incentivises revisiting older dungeons with a more powerful team, especially as worthwhile rewards are doled out for each incremental increase. There are also some developer-designed dungeons, which have more set-piece moments and feel a little more grandiose. Overall, the approach to dungeons must be commended. Eight may not sound like a lot, but their potential is maximised due to this modern twist.

As previously stated, the Switch version benefits from the tweaks to XP progression, as well as some other minor balance tweaks and item additions, to help improve the flow of the first ten hours and make it feel a little less unforgiving in the opening third. This ensures players get the best opportunity to invest themselves in the Battle Chasers universe, without being stretched by overly-intense grinding sessions that previously were essential in order to be prepared for the next challenge. However, it does suffer from some other issues. Whereas the PC and console versions seemed to run at a much smoother 60 frames-per-second, the Switch version runs at half that. This is no surprise, nor a deal-breaker, but accompanied by some quite prevalent frame-drops, it certainly seems as though it is not particularly well-optimised. There are also long loading times, which are very frequent and a bit disappointing. Perhaps a patch in the future will remedy or improve these matters. Ultimately, though, they are only minor technical annoyances.

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Final Score
[i]Battle Chasers: Nightwar[/i] on Nintendo Switch is a highly engrossing experience, which JRPG fans, raised on the likes of Final Fantasy and Suikoden, will savour every minute of. In interactive form, Joe Madureria's universe has been brought to life in a whole new way. Strengthening and upgrading its endearing characters is a very enjoyable process. The world is atmospherically rich and aesthetically gorgeous, and is supported by a great soundtrack and voice acting. Moreover, the turn-based combat mechanic is such a finely-tuned formula that it sustains itself across a forty-hour campaign with great success, especially with the XP progression tweaks. However, it is an undeniable shame that the issues that plagued the other versions, like long and disjointed loading times, persist here. There are frequent frame-drops when traversing busy sections and the drop from 60 to 30fps is very noticeable. Thankfully, these minor gripes aren't enough to deter users from this excellent RPG.

8

/10

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