Copyright Adam Schlosser
Contact:
aschloss@gmail.com


Copyright 2005 Adam Schlosser


Posted by Pip

F445- Maybe The Best Family Reunion

We know her! There aren't nearly enough people that can pop into a new world through an interdimensional tear and then immediately throw down some sass.
And I want to chastise Anger for its negativity, but really, blaming the team for rips in the fabric of space and time is probably a safe bet.


Quick Critique: Battle Chasers: Nightwar

Before I even get to the meat of this: DO NOT BUY THIS GAME, IT IS VERY BROKEN.
Again, even if you loved the comic and love turn-based RPGS: DO NOT GIVE THIS COMPANY MONEY, THEY RELEASED A BROKEN GAME.

Joe Mad is one of my favorite artists and I read the Battle Chasers comic pretty much just to see him draw pretty things. I only just read it a year or two ago, so I thankfully avoided the whole incident of him bailing on the series and leaving it unfinished after a main plot twist. The actual story (and most of the writing) is kind of just Dungeons and Dragons meets generic anime stuff, but it had enough moments and unique ideas here and there to make the comic series worth it, even this many years after its initial release. So Battle Chasers the comic is pretty good. Battle Chasers the video game, however, is a steaming pile of garbage.

This game is so unfinished and slapped together that I'm just going to list out a stream of the constant issues it has:
It crashes. A LOT. It's not just one thing going wrong, it crashes all over the place and multiple times at different spots (inventory screen, leaving a dungeon, changing screens, and so on)
I actually had a crash during the ending credits
It locks up every time I try to enter the Arena forcing me to force close the game
I finally managed to enter the Arena (apparently some of the difficulties work and others don't), it's a series of battles with a 20 minute time limit, I'm doing the hardest difficulty to get the final prizes, get through multiple rounds where I'm one turn away from the entire party dying or I lucked out and a character dodged an instant kill move, I'm at the last boss with 2 minutes left on the clock, deliver the killing blow with 23 seconds left on the clock, I get the Playstation level trophy for completing the Arena, the game showers me with prizes, I leave the Arena, I open the menu, the game crashes and upon relaunching sets me back at the beginning of the Arena having made no progress at all and with none of the prizes. I think I just instantly skipped over anger, sunk back in my chair, and whispered "mother fuckers" to myself for a few minutes
After a battle, I lost the ability to interact with any objects. Seeing as how the dungeon required me to flip a switch to advance, I had to quit the game. This happened multiple times
Frequent hitches and freezing for a second on the map, exploring, and in battle
Menus aren't responsive for a few seconds after opening them
I had a story scene fail to load and the game just displayed a screen full of that "missing image" pink
I had a different story scene fail to load but I still got the subtitles. This one was a major story sequence so it wasn't repeatable the next time I played the dungeon so I would have liked to have seen that
The voice acting is Sega Saturn levels of bad. They're horrible choices for the characters but then poorly acted on top of that. And they apply random odd filters over the readings. There's a scene in the open air in a town where your characters talk to each other but Gully sounds like her lines were recorded in a particularly echo-y bathroom. The only character I cared for was The Collector, a sinister but gleeful little monster that is likely eating the remains of dead bosses that you bring it. The Collector deserves to be in a better game than this one
The text size is WAY too small
The walking speed is slow. If you doubled the walking speed, it would still be too slow
Battles are slow both in animation and action speed and how many hits it takes to kill a grunt enemy
The core combat system is tedious and relies far too much on crits and applying status effects. Most end game fights devolve into who can apply the most debuffs to the other team and then spamming special moves that gain extra traits if the enemy has specific debuffs
The music is so laid back that it (rightfully) just seems uninterested in being a part of this game, even during battles. The soundtrack is so forgettable and uninteresting that I usually turned the game audio almost off and listened to the BBC while I played. The Shipping Report pretty much matches the pace and excitement of this game
Totally unnecessary crafting mechanics
By the time you get enough crafting materials to build a weapon, it's worse than what you get from dungeon crawling
You can't sort your crafting materials alphabetically, so when you're looking up how many of a quest item you need, have fun sorting through that mess
Totally unnecessary fishing mini-game
Every time you enter battle, the UI flashes a move description. I think it's loading the last thing you used in the previous battle
Occasional multiple second pauses at the start of a battle before the UI will display or you can interact with it in any way
Clunky menu UI
Loot-based drops that do nothing to make the game more interesting
Loot that isn't even interesting or exciting because most of the equipment is very similar and the vast majority of what you find is just crafting materials you won't use
Major side-quests and items that are gated by random loot drops. You have to hope the characters show up on the map and then hope they drop the item you need (usually multiple times) or else start a dungeon from scratch and do it all over again
Semi-randomized dungeons where the actual rooms barely change but their order does, so combined with the need to grind, the dungeons get really boring and just have you looking for the exits rather than rewarding you for exploring. Later dungeons even repeat pieces of earlier dungeons
Items in shops are stupidly expensive for how little they change your stats and for the piddly amount enemies actually pay out or what items sell for. While spending a night at the inn cost me 40 coins, selling a purple rank weapon only got me 17 coins. It's actually faster to play through the whole first dungeon and get the health and mana refill before the boss than it is to grind out the money to stay a night at the inn for a large chunk of the game
Just about every item you find in the wild will raise one stat but then lower multiple other ones so you kind of just have to pick one stat for a character to use and min/max the hell out of it
Items in your inventory will mark themselves as new even though you've seen them before
Items in the world will still sparkle as if they're unchecked even though you already have them
If you have to close and restart a dungeon (say because the game crashed or locked up), it will acknowledge that you've been through the rooms but respawn the enemies past a seemingly random point. I had one dungeon where the objective was to kill two mini-bosses, I did so, saved the game in case it crashed at the boss, and upon reloading it, the mini-bosses respawned even though I had the objective that said they were dead checked off
Every time the game crashes, it resets your super meter. So you can go through a dungeon, build up your meter, save it for the boss fight, the game crashes, you reload at the boss, and now you have no meter and you're at a serious disadvantage
Perks and equipment will unequip themselves (this may be related to all the crashes)
I met an enemy without warning that was vastly stronger than anything I'd seen in the game before, I could only do 80 damage to it per turn, and every turn it could heal itself for 84 health. And for some reason I wasn't allowed to run away from the fight so I had to sit there for 10 minutes turn by turn hitting the enemy, watching it heal, and letting it whittle down my party's health. Dying then made me lose a chunk of my money
Apparently those are special enemies that offer a special reward if beaten, but it wasn't until I was at the final dungeon that I ever saw them again. I don't know if the game was broken and would no longer spawn them or what
Another dungeon had a bunch of enemies that I tore through with no problem, and then I got to the boss and it killed each member of my party in 1 hit. Dying, again, made me lose a chunk of my money. So the lesson is to never sell anything until you can fully afford the thing you're trying to buy because you never know when the game is going to throw balancing out the window and punish YOU for it
I don't think you can manually save without quitting the game. But quitting the game dumps everything it loaded into memory or something because when you load the game back up, it can take 40 seconds to load into your first battle. Given all the crashes, you have to save and quit often, so get used to watching the first 15 seconds or so of the opening cutscene because you can't skip to the title screen until that plays out
The trophies aren't properly proofread and sometimes won't award when you earn them and instead pop the next time you load the game
If a character dies from a status effect at the start of their turn, the UI is not graceful
I would love to hear some kind of justification on the game's balancing because the way it's set up is that you beat a dungeon, unlock the next story dungeon, but you're not actually strong enough to progress the story yet, so you have to go back and grind the dungeon a you've already finished to level up a bit. You pretty much have to beat each level on each difficulty before you can move ahead, so by the time you're ready to move the story along, you're really, really sick of the previous dungeon
Characters not in your party don't gain any experience from battle, so the game actively discourages you from trying new characters. I was level 10 when I unlocked Knolan, but he was only level 9 and the more I use my normal team, the further Knolan falls behind, so I have no reason to ever add him to my party. Changing team members just means you have to redo all the grinding you've done to level them up and hope you get some loot drops for them. Maybe it's just how I play the game, but there's really only one viable team. You HAVE to have Calibretto on your team because he's the only decent healer. Garrison is the only one that can do any decent damage. Gully is slow and focuses on defense, while Monika has high evasion, good damage, and can bog enemies down with stat debuffs so Monika is way more useful
Doing end game clean up, I used my weaker teammates because my main team stopped earning experience from the early dungeons, I met those special pirate enemies with this team, was happy to have a chance to fight them, but the pirates scale to your strongest team not the team you're actually using so my level 9, 12, and 17 characters got destroooyed by the level 30 enemies
The team couldn't even do New Game + properly. Starting NG+ causes you to lose all your items, so all that time you spent on random drops to get the ultimate weapons and armor was totally wasted. It's completely unnecessary to do this because all the weapons are level gated. So if you reset the character levels, you stop them from having access to the top gear from the start, but once they level up, they get their hard earned weapons back. That would have been the competent way to handle NG+ here
New Game + starts you off with the whole team, but it doesn't properly handle that you've unlocked characters before their normal unlocking event, so the shops won't sell you their perk bonus or costume items. Even if you come back at the end of the game when you'd normally have those characters, the game still treats them like they haven't been unlocked yet

Even with its many, MANY glaring flaws, they have the audacity to not actually finish the game's story. You slog through all of this, beat the final boss, and the ending is barely more than "hey, buy some DLC or a sequel".

So, yeah, don't spend money on this game. The perk system is kind of neat though. You get points when you level up and you can cash them in on an attack path or a defense path. As you buy perks on each path, every 20 points you spend unlocks a bonus perk that can offer some substantial stat boosts. You can respec for free, so you can mess around with different choices as you slooowly grind out levels or boss fight currency to get more points.


Battle Chasers is bad but not in the way that most low budget games are bad. The art's great so the game looks fantastic and draws you in. It's the design sensibilities and usability in the game that are godawful, the gameplay is as dry as it comes, and it's an unfinished mess. Everything about this screams that the team got a slew of crowdfunding money but then nobody on the team actually knew how to make a good video game so this got rushed out the door without proper testing or fixes to hit a deadline. Battle Chasers makes me question whether Playstation cert matters. If this game, with its constant crashes and 100% reproducible lock-ups, can be released for sale, then clearly nobody is checking the actual game or doing anything remotely resembling quality control.