‘Berserk and the Band of the Hawk’ Review: Musou + Blood & Guts = A Good Time

Game: Berserk and the Band of the Hawk
Consoles: PS4, PC
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Developer: Omega Force

Berserk and the Band of the Hawk

Omega Force have started to venture out with its Musou-based hack ’em ups. After refining the better parts of the Dynasty Warriors series, the longtime Koei Tecmo developer has released a flood of spin-off’s and sequels. For the past few years, fans of big-time manga/anime IP’s have gotten treated to those very same types of beat ’em ups that feature their favorites. The war-torn and mercenary filled world of Berserk has finally been given that familiar treatment. While it sticks to the best and worst parts of the Musou genre, Berserk and the Band of the Hawk manages to add its own characteristics and shines because of them.

Like most Musou games, this hack and slasher delivers a story mode that breaks down the 1st three sagas of the Berserk plotline. As Guts, you work as a mercenary for hire who’s revered and feared for his masterful work with a massive blade. After running into a charismatic war band leader named Griffith and losing to him in battle, Guts ends up becoming the newest member of the Band of the Hawk. From this point forward, you’ll play out the many exploits of Guts and his newest allies as they navigate a world built by war, assassinations, politics and magic. Berserk’s most important story sequences are doled out through the use of real-time scenes taken from the newest anime, which is a nice touch. Berserk’s story is definitely intriguing, so newcomers to its ongoing tale will enjoy every bit of its lore.

Berserk and the Band of the Hawk

Getting into the fray of battle is where the fun kicks into overdrive. Along with Guts, Berserk and the Band of the Hawk lets you take control of a number of powerful characters who’s fighting styles vary. Guts lays waste to hundreds of enemies with his long reaching blade, Griffith is a swift fencer who makes quick work of his foes with a rapier, Schierke casts devastating spells etc. One of the most admirable features this Musou spinoff features is its reliance on blood, guts and complete dismemberment. This simple addition does a lot to represent the complete anarchy taking place on the battlefield and the overall mood of Berserk’s viciousness. The more focused boss fights change up the formula from time to time, which means it does a decent job of giving you an actual challenge at times. With a nice roster of characters, fighting styles and sub-weapons to unlock, Berserk and the Band of the Hawk does a bit more than most games of its kind.

Berserk and the Band of the Hawk

The one unavoidable issue that most Musou games always get knocked for is its repetitive feel. Berserk and the Band of the Hawk is no different. During longer play sessions, the action begins to grow a bit dull. While cutting down everyone in your unfortunate path starts out fun, it tends to lose its luster the longer you delve into its often lengthy stages. Plus, the finicky camera tends to lose you when hundreds of baddies surround you. It’s too easy to lose sight of your character and get attacked from all sides due to the unfocused camera. A game such as this one needs a cooperative camera at all times in order to follow the madness you’re leaving in your wake. But sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case sometimes.

Bottom Line

Omega Force’s Musou adaptation of Berserk certainly has its problems. The repetitive feel that wanders in after playing through it for a while is definitely one of them, plus the wonky camera can get in the way at times. Even with those two big cons, Berserk and the Band of the Hawk still manages to be a good time. Its fun and varied cast of warriors, wonderfully animated cutscenes and usage of gore filled battles are its finest features. It has taken far too long to wield Guts’ massive blade in video game form once again. If you’re a curious newcomer or longtime Berserk fan, then this hack ’em up should be on your playlist.

Score: 7.5/10

Pros:

  • Adding gore, blood and dismemberment mechanics makes this Musou game stand out
  • The true to the source anime scenes are amazingly detailed
  • Guts and the rest of the game’s eccentric roster are all fun warriors to master

Cons:

  • The action can grow a bit stale during longer play sessions
  • The camera can get a bit unruly when there’s a wave of enemies and allies onscreen