Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a great game, but there is a substantial drop off in player count early on in the experience. After my playthrough, I explain why I believe this happens, and how it might have been remedied.
Today I wanted to take a look at the design of Battle Chasers: Nightwar by Airship Syndicate. Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a turn-based RPG experience inspired by classic Final Fantasy games. Nightwar takes this formula and improves on it in certain ways, making for a modernized game experience. Nightwar is filled with fun abilities and character types that lead to powerful party combinations. This depth to their combat system, allowing players to create their own synced up party and strategy, is the strongest point of Nightwar, however players need to invest a bunch of hours to reach it.
Let’s take a look at some Steam Global Achievements to see how this game is played. It’ll take a few hours of gameplay for a player to add the Wizard character, Knolan, to their party, represented by the “Barrel of Fun” achievement. According to Steam Global Achievements, only 53.3% of the player base completes this. That means that nearly half of the entire game’s audience drops off in those first few hours. So what’s up there? Why aren’t people enjoying the creative and tactical gameplay that makes Battle Chasers: Nightwar so fun?
(Click Here to visit Battle Chasers: Nightwar Steam Global Achievements)
They haven’t reached it yet.
While just beginning the game, the player’s options during combat are extremely limited to Basic or Powered-up Attack, Defend, and Heal options effectively. The player really doesn’t have much room to work with here, especially since earning the “Burst” abilities only happen at the end of the first dungeon (Burst abilities are extra powerful abilities the player can use after filling a meter). So the player is really left with such basic moves that none of the real fun and strategy exist in the first five hours of gameplay, potentially longer.
Now the designers definitely wanted the player to feel more powerful overtime, as many adventure final fantasy games do. Unlocking new abilities is a commonly used concept, however the trickling pace is difficult to navigate in the earlier hours of the game (especially if they player chooses to do Heroic or Legendary dungeon difficulties). Well what could the designers have done to enhance the gameplay?
Battle Chasers: Nightwar has a perk system where as the player levels up, they earn knowledge points that allow them choose power up perks, effectively a talent system. In my opinion, this was a missed opportunity. The perk system includes some very basic negligible upgrades in the beginning like a 1% increase to Crit Chance, or a 2% increase to Attack Power. While later in the tree, cooler perks exist to upgrade abilities, giving them new properties and unlocking gameplay. Now not to be harsh, there is nothing fun about getting a 1.05% boost to Crit Chance as an early perk. This results in a negligible change to your characters damage that you won’t even notice. So once again, the early experience isn’t hitting on the strong points of the game. The players are missing out on the fun in exchange for a 1.05% increase in Crit Chance.
I argue that the ability modifying perks were a great addition to the game, but the player earns them too late. Once again later in the game, players earn new fun abilities while the early hours are limited by the game’s progression. In my opinion, these ability modifying and enhancing perks should have existed at the beginning of the Perk Tree, allowing players to immediately experiment with new abilities and strategies instead of withholding that content for the end of the game. Instead of a 2% boost to a stat, the player can form new strategies around the modifiers they selected.
Ability Modifying Perk Example:
Battle Chasers: Nightwar is still a very fun game set in the world of Joe Madureira’s comic series. It adds to the turn-based formula with the Overcharge combat system, allowing players to use their abilities more frequently without the worry of managing mana to the end of a dungeon. It nails the comic style environment and character combat animations. Once past the first few hours, we don’t see a significant drop off in player count. While approximately 16% of players complete the campaign, that’s less than a 40% drop over the course of potentially 15 to 20 hours of gameplay. I highly encourage anyone who loves JRPG turn-based games to put the time into this to see where it truly shines.
Click Here to visit the games Steam Store page.
One game highlight for me was turning Gully into a damage sponge by using her taunt ability and Knolan’s Shield abilities. Against any hard-hitting single enemy, I was unstoppable.