Berserk and the Band of the Hawk is basically Berserk Warriors: a Dynasty Warriors game re-skinned with the violent, bloody, gruesome and sexual world of the Berserk anime and manga. While its first half is serviceable as a piece of well-presented fan service, the latter half puts far less effort into presentation and becomes infinitely less fair to play.
Unless you’re already a heavily invested fan of both Berserk and Dynasty Warriors, I suspect this game just won’t be for you.
Berserk and the Band of the Hawk is a hack and slash interpretation of the Berserk story that focuses mainly on the series’ “Golden Age” arc, as well as delving into part of the “Hawk of the Millennium Empire” storyline too.
Here’s the problem: while the Golden Age arc is explored in intricate, plodding detail, with anime cutscenes used between fights for story, all of that detail and that level of presentation abruptly ends when the game switches to the Hawk of the Millennium Empire section. The anime cutscenes suddenly vanish, big huge story moments become relegated to quick single maps without context, and exciting plot points are glossed over entirely.
It is certainly not an acceptable way to pick up that arc of the story.
That level of presentation abruptly ends when the game switches to the Hawk of the Millennium Empire arc.
On paper, Berserk makes a lot of sense for a Dynasty Warriors interpretation. The protagonist, Guts, Is all about wielding big, powerful weapons to slice down countless hoards of minor enemies on his way to take down big, important creatures. While this level of overpowered destruction is initially portrayed, with basic enemies falling at your feet with ease in early levels to give the player a sense of power, as the game goes on, difficulty is increased by making even basic grunts tough to stagger.
While slicing down large groups of enemies functions like a hero fantasy to start with, within a few hours even, basic enemies that you cannot lock your camera on to will resist staggering and overwhelm in relatively small numbers. When you swing a six-foot long blade at what was previously cannon-fodder and they barely flinch, it’s hard to feel powerful.
As the game goes on difficulty is increased by making even basic enemies tough to stagger.
This issue becomes even more of a problem when a similar tactic is used to increase boss fight difficulty later in the game. By some of the endgame bosses, it really seems to be more a matter of raw damage output and racing to kill before being killed, rather than any real skill-based difficulty increase.
Sometimes you do just have to get your biggest blade and whack bosses with your fingers crossed for a victory.
Band of the Hawk does have one interesting twist mechanically compared to standard Warriors games. Many of the Warriors games feature a meter, filled by combo attacks, which, when unleashed, temporarily turns your character into a superhuman version of themselves. In Berserk, this meter can be filled up to five times, leveling up after each successive use. Each time you increase the level of this meter by pulling off the godlike ‘ferocity’ mode, your overall attack strength increases going forward.
Otherwise, combat is predictable Warriors fare. Levels are compact but packed with enemies, the number of playable characters is small and front-loaded, and the text translation is poor. It’s a mediocre Warriors tie-in that feels rushed, a little soulless, and lacking in the level of polish Hyrule Warriors or Attack on Titan were given.
Really, Berserk and the Band of the Hawk is just a bit disappointing. It’s functional enough, and if you’re a die-hard fan of Warriors and Berserk going in you might get some fun out of this, but realistically it’s not worth picking up for most players.
Platform: PlayStation 4 [Reviewed], Vita, PC
Developer/Publisher: Omega Force / Koei Tecmo
Release date: Out Now
- First half tells an in depth story
- First half has good cutscenes
- interesting stacked combo meter system
- Falls apart in second half
- poor difficulty scaling
- Feels lazily pushed out
Not recommended unless you’re already a die hard fan of both Berserk and Dynasty Warriors. Even then, it goes down in quality as it progresses.