Similar to Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, Berserk has recently returned to popularity. This started with a new anime series and now includes its own Dynasty Warriors title. Considering Berserk can easily be adapted to the Dynasty Warriors style, it seems like a good fit. With a number of playable characters, several story arcs and countless peons to mow down, is Berserk and the Band of the Hawk worth your time or does it sound better on paper?
Berserk and the Band of the Hawk starts by telling the ever popular golden age arc. Here you see Guts join the Band of the Hawk, they rise to power, until Guts leaves. This starts a chain of events resulting in Guts starting his journey for revenge and war against the demons. From there, the story also covers all but the latest fantasia arc.
While Berserk and the Band of the Hawk covers a lot of ground, it does so in a way that is satisfying. Even though some key information/side information is omitted, the core story is there. Important events that define the series happen and more than enough content is present to get a good grasp of what is happening. This is especially important for newcomers, who can take solace in the fact that you can come into this fresh without too many problems.
The only downside to so much content being present, is that Berserk and the Band of the Hawk cuts corners. Instead of creating new cutscenes/content, scenes from the recent anime series are shown instead. So if you watched the anime, expect some déjà vu while playing. This choice wouldn’t be so bad if it was consistent, but it isn’t. Once you pass where the anime is at, every cutscene uses the in-game 3D visuals instead. This can be awkward, especially if you don’t realize what they’re doing.
Despite this, Berserk and the Band of the Hawk is fun to play. Since Berserk is filled with peons that get cut down, people using swords and other conventional weapons and so forth, the transition is seamless. The combat also differentiates itself from standard Dynasty Warrior combat. Here enemies are sliced apart, with armor and other random things flying from their dead bodies. It makes for a satisfying experience, even if the vast majority of enemies are dumb.
The combat also offers a fair amount of diversity, with each character having their own playstyle and enemies. For instance, Guts can use the berserker armor, in addition to firing arrows rapidly, throw knives/bombs and even shoot a canon from his arm. This allows you to more than mash one or two buttons, even if it doesn’t change too many things. The other characters have similar mechanics, like Zodd can transform and Schierke summons golems.
Similar to other first release anime Dynasty Warrior games, there isn’t a ton of content. For starters, there are only eight playable characters. As mentioned above, they do have some depth, in addition to multiple costumes, but it also means you can only play as the core people and Zodd. Besides story and free play mode, the only other thing to do is endless eclipse.
This is essentially a hoard mode with side objectives and unlockables. It can be fun in short bursts, though it can be tedious going through countless floors killing the same handful of enemies. With a total of 100 floors to complete, you’re looking at about two to three hours to do them all and this assumes you can even finish the mode. Beyond that, it really isn’t anything more than a long version of the usual Dynasty Warrior missions. Go killed named enemies, protect people, go here and so forth. It’s the type of mode that is best if you just want mindless fun, not something with depth or substance.
Berserk and the Band of the Hawk is good start to the series. The story could be a little better, just like the character roster could be bigger, but the stuff that matters is here. The combat has a fair bit of variety, at least for a Dynasty Warrior game, with enough to make each character interesting. Combine this with with an interesting story, enemies and so forth and you have a game that isn’t perfect, but fans will enjoy.
[Editor’s Note: Berserk and the Band of the Hawk was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]Berserk and the Band of the Hawk Review,