Berserk is an incredibly violent and visceral manga series which has been adapted into equally horrifying anime on more than one occasion and now, with Berserk and the Band of the Hawk, the series steps into the world of gaming with a brutal adventure which follows the source material.
Developed by Omega Force, the team behind Dynasty Warriors and several Musou games such as One Piece: Pirate Warriors and the upcoming Fire Emblem Warriors, you can expect to slay several hundred enemies per mission in addicting, simple combat. Berserk follows the lone mercenary Guts as he lives day to day fighting to make a living, until he loses a sword fight to Griffith and joins his mercenary group the Band of the Hawk. Now working with another group for the first time in years, Guts becomes a vital part of the team and makes a name for himself as the Black Swordsman, with the Band of the Hawk becoming a force to be reckoned with. Berserk deals with very mature themes and handles them well, although the game doesn’t quite touch on these as much due to what could be a mixture of censoring and design choices — it likely had to be censored for its Japanese release.
As with most Omega Force games, you can expect to be slashing your way through hundreds of enemies each mission and despite the simplicity of it, their gameplay mechanics rarely grow tired – it’s little effort that rewards you greatly. You’ll be mashing combos together intertwined with special abilities and items, and you get access to more combos as you level up and they mostly consist of triangle and square inputs. You can ride your horse to get around the expansive maps quickly and attack from them too — these attacks are stronger although it’s a pain to land them as you’d like. The boss battles are grand although you’ll defeat them pretty much as you defeat any enemy by spamming the attack buttons and blocking and dodging.
Berserk is undoubtedly a very violent game and among Omega Force’s bloodiest, and limbs and bloodsprays will be flying around everywhere. Kentaro Miura’s work has been brought to life in all of its grotesque ways and some of its sights are quite hard to stomach. The creatures, various races and events that take place are unsettling to see — Berserk doesn’t hold back in its storytelling and sights and whilst this can easily make you wince and disturb you, Miura writes the story and characters in a captivating way that’ll pull you through its vile sights. The voice-acting in particular is excellent with Guts’ voice-actor, Hiroaki Iwanaga, giving a breathtaking performance although I can’t find any complaints about the voice talent! The music isn’t what I’d call catchy but it does well in enhancing Berserk’s atmosphere, especially during the more horrific areas.
Berserk and the Band of the Hawk is another great entry to Omega Force’s never-ending series of Musou games, and fans should be pleased that they can play through Berserk which has been going on since the 1980’s — and it still hasn’t ended! Whilst I’d been familiar with Berserk I never had any interest in checking out, and I’m not sure if I want to now either, but I’ve enjoyed the story and characters presented here more than I expected I would — I never liked Griffith, though. This isn’t my favourite Omega Force title by any means, as that title belongs to Attack on Titan, but it’s provided hours of enjoyment with plenty of content to get your hands on. If you’re a tad squeamish then you may want to give it a miss but if you’re a fan of Berserk, and if you then chances are you’ve already got your hands on Berserk and the Band of the Hawk, then you should definitely give it a go!