Recently, we’ve seen a trend of grafting anime properties onto the gameplay conventions of developer Omega Force’s Dynasty Warriors. The franchise is known for–and has rarely deviated from–its formula: players crunch through waves of enemies on small maps, capturing and maintaining control of key areas to complete missions. In the past few years we’ve seen this setup, called musou, used for Attack on Titan, Arslan, and One Piece–as well as other gaming properties including The Legend of Zelda in Hyrule Warriors and Dragon Quest in Dragon Quest Heroes.
The latest in this line of warriors spin-offs is Berserk, named and based on the manga and anime series of the same name and developed by Omega Force. Berserk is a dark tale colored by more adult themes, including gratuitous gore and sexual violence, and follows a strong and stoic mercenary named Guts on an adventure he did not want. The game begins with the plot of the anime’s first season–the Golden Age Arc from the manga–and includes content through the Hawk of the Millennium Empire arc, which hits some story beats from the anime’s more recent second season. The story is complex and its characters in a constant state of turmoil, but throughout one thing remains the constant: Guts’ power as a swordsman.
Guts weapon of choice is a massive sword, and anyone who has watched the anime can probably get a sense for how difficult it must be to wield. This unwieldy weapon is placed into your hands for Omega Force’s Berserk, and after a few minutes with the game I felt like I knew what it’s like to be Guts. In the game, Guts’ movements are slower than your typical Dynasty Warriors’ character, with the swordsman moving through swings and thrusts in a more sluggish manner. Cutting away large swathes of enemy demons is less about speed than it is about carefully calculating your strikes, planning each swing so that it takes out as many enemies as possible.
Unlike Guts, enemies are not slow, and during my hands-on time with the game I found it a genuine challenge to clear them away. Guts, with his hulking frame and giant sword, takes a good second or so to turn and raise his weapon. Button mashing isn’t as successful as it may be in other Warriors games, which I found added a layer of strategy to my battles. Most of the time in these kind of games, a flurry of button presses would at least net you a few dozen kills in a few seconds. But Berserk’s goal seems to be to come as close as possible to portraying Guts fight style and speed.
There is one way to gain a bit of a speed boost. When you eliminate enough enemies, a power gauge fills that allows you to (literally) go berserk. In Rage Mode, Guts’ movements are faster and his attacks are more powerful. I wiped away crowds of demons like I was swatting away insects, sending them flying into fences and walls enclosing the map. Like with the recent Attack on Titan adaptation, this Berserk take on Dynasty Warriors is an exciting experience for someone who loves the series.
Berserk is set to launch this fall worldwide for PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita and PC.