"The Empire Strikes Back": Berserk and the Band of the Hawk Review (Second Opinion)
Berserk and the Band of the Hawk is a warrior’s game through and through, but oddly satisfying, especially for Berserk fans. However, its flaws are too big to ignore. Warning spoilers ahead for the Berserk manga, anime, and the game,
Spoilers Begin Below
The game starts in the Golden Age and goes through the Falcon of the Millennium arc. As a side note, the game calls this arc the Hawk of the Millennium Empire arc, however, when Griffith was reborn post Tower of Conviction, he became the Falcon of Light. It’s a thing the game got wrong that bugs me, and other Berserk fans that I’ve talked to.
The game also starts at the Golden Age instead of in the middle of the Black swordsman Arc then flashing back to Golden Age, which honestly flows better than the manga. The game does a good job of hitting all the major points in the series, with one exception I’ll talk about later, and making the story accessible. The events help fill in the story that the missions don’t answer. While not the greatest, it definitely gets more minor details from the manga across than the 3 Golden Age movies did or the new anime.
My biggest gripe with the story of is almost half of the missions are set in the Golden Age arc. The game could easily take out 5 of these missions and still get everything across, especially considering the game skips over the Lost Children arc, like the anime did. While I realize this is probably because the entire arc revolves around Guts killing children, it is still disappointing since it is important to Guts’ character arc.
Game looks good. It looks better than the 2016 anime, but that’s not really setting the bar high. It looks good for warrior’s game. I loved the clunky look of all the enemies in armor, and they did a great job on recreating the look of the Apostles. Zodd, Grunbeld, Wylad, and the God hand all looked almost one to one with their actual counterparts, aside from Grunbeld being too small. The in-game cut scenes looked just as good as the movie cut scenes, in opinion.
Sound design: The Dragonslayer clanged. That is all.
Multiplayer: Doesn’t have it.
Berserk and the Band of the Hawk put a lot of enemies on the screen, and I never got a frame rate drop. The only frame drop I got was when fighting Ganishka in his mist form. The mist effects looked good and so did the lightning, so I understand the slow down there. For the most part hitting the button felt good, but some characters felt pretty bad. I got surprisingly lost in the accessories mechanic though. Being able to upgrade and amalgamate accessories to get certain skills was great. However, unless it was an apostle boss fight, the game really provided no difficulty. Although the Femto boss fight was rage inducing and just BS. It wouldn’t have been so bad if there wasn’t movement restriction, but this is probably the worst part of the game.
Mercenary Guts felt okay. The stabbing combo was fun, but he just lack luster. However, swinging the Dragonslayer felt amazing. The sword felt like it had the proper weight with how slow the swings were, and how powerful each swing was. Killing 20 enemies in one normal swing felt right. The cannon and repeating crossbow both felt as powerful as they seem in the manga.
Playing Guts makes you feel like the hundred man slayer, and playing as berserk Guts makes you feel unstoppable. The fluidity of the movement really gave me the feeling of being the berserk that just flips around and kills things. It’s just as ridiculous as it sounds, and that means it was perfect.
Griffith felt right. He was really fast, yet still hit like a truck. His combos felt nice to do and movement and attack had that arrogant, smug feeling that Griffith oozes. The “I’m better than you” feeling. You beat your opponents by overpowering them with precise and speedy motions, just like Griffith is known for.
I was not able to unlock Femto since that require fulfilling all missions in the endless eclipse which is basically the equivalent to clearing Bloody Palace in a DMC game 4 times.
I hated playing Casca. She just felt so mediocre and bland compared to everyone else. It was just standard sword person in a warrior’s game, which while it describes Casca’s fighting style, paled in comparison to everyone else’s unique styles. Her combos didn’t really feel like they hit with any power, and her death blow uses other people. She doesn’t even get her own special move, she uses other Band of Hawk members, which felt like a cop out.
My personal favorite Band of the Hawk Member. You never really get to see Judeau fight except for throwing knives so I was curious to see what they would use as his fighting style. I’m happy to say that Judeau’s double dagger fighting style fits him perfectly. He’s plays more like an assassin or rogue in a standard game, but Judeau’s character honestly fits that mold.
He plays similar to Griffith, but both are fencers so that makes sense. However, Serpico’s move set takes full advantage of his windblade. The different combo endings using the wind element feel great, and consistent with the source material. Nothing really seems like it wouldn’t be a Serpico move in the source.
Schierke feels like a Dragon’s Dogma style mage. You have to wait to channel, but man do those spells pack a punch. Her spells are super flashy, and fun to use. Flooding an entire area, or turning into a giant tornado or lighting everything on fire is fun. Especially when you have a sub-weapon spell that acts like a black hole and sucks enemies in to make hitting groups even easier.
He hits like a giant flying monster with horns. Why? Because that’s exactly what it is. His apostle form makes you feel like a God…or more aptly like you’re invincible. Grabbing people and throwing them, swiping them with your tail, and rampaging about are super fun to do.
Zodd’s human form is just as fun honestly. He hits just as, if not harder, than guts. His combos are fun, and you just feel like a tank in human form…with a giant sword.
Berserk and the Band of the Hawk is a faithful Berserk adaptation that while is fun for a while, it’s repetitive nature, and lack of multiplayer stop it from having long term viability. In fact, its lack of local multiplayer probably gives it less of a lifespan than your average warriors game. However, I feel it’s a must buy for any hardcore Berserk fan.
3/5: For regular players
3.5/5: If you’re a Berserk fan.