Berserk, depending on who you talk to, is either a profound dark story of loss, redemption and pain, or a silly macho melodrama featuring a dude with a giant sword stabbing people. Berserk And The Band Of The Hawk has an obvious focus on the latter, but that can make it a fun distraction.
Berserk And The Band Of The Hawk (PS4, Vita, PC)
Essentially a Dynasty Warriors game in Berserk drag, Berserk and the Band Of The Hawk follows the origin story of Guts, a mercenary who comes across the aforementioned band of warriors and forms a close, strong bond with them before it all goes to hell. The game uses clips of the anime as cutscenes, a welcome change of pace, but it’s a bit bland in presentation; everything looks and moves smoothly enough, but it doesn’t really stand out. That said, you’ll want to enable the gore to get the most out of this game; some of the gorier attacks are so over-the-top they’re funny.
This is a brawler all the way with little innovation. Hit square, hit triangle, dodge, hit your power meter, and so on. It’s smooth enough; it’d better be, considering this is a Dynasty Warriors game under a license and the publisher has made plenty of those, but this is decidedly comfort-food gaming.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with comfort food, and to the game’s credit, genuine thought was put into making this accessible to people who have no idea who the heck Guts is or why they should care about his grimdark path across a faux medieval Europe. Berserk is a comic book that’s been published since 1989, and a lot of plot and character has piled up since then. It would have been easy to simply cater to fans, but there’s a genuine focus here on trying to capture what’s made Kentaro Miura’s comics so popular.
Still, that does emphasize the melodramatic nature of the story. Our “hero,” such as he is, was born from the womb of a hanged woman, turned into a child soldier, becomes a mercenary, and has a brand on his neck that lures demons and monsters to him. Guts’ tale of woe is so consistently extreme it becomes just a little difficult to take seriously. You half expect him to get a puppy that promptly commits suicide to save him, it’s so grindingly bleak.
Across its ten to twelve hours, Berserk and The Band of The Hawk doesn’t change the way you look at brawlers. It is, however, often a lot of fun, and unlike most licensed products, it’s a good introduction to the story in question. If you’re looking to shut your brain off and play for a few hours, this is an ideal candidate.