It was much too underwhelming to be called a Berserk game. Massive, tedious, and far too rough. Indeed, it was like a slab of raw disappointment. Fans of the classic franchise can't catch a break between last year's disastrous anime series and the manga vanishing into hiatus yet again. No studio has been prepared to go all the way in adapting the adventure – Berserk and the Band of the Hawk offered to change that, but with its spammy combat, repetitive missions, and terrifyingly bad camera, it seems we can now add developer Omega Force to that list.
For the uninitiated, Berserk is a dark fantasy manga series following the life and times of grouchy, muscle-bound swordsman Guts on his quest for vengeance. The game's main attraction is the story mode, which features a lengthy (albeit patchy) adaptation of the tale and covers everything from the Golden Age arc up to the infamous boat ride.
Dialogue and developments are delivered in the form of stiffly-animated visual-novel style cutscenes, as well as scenes from the movie trilogy that have been clumsily spliced in (and crudely censored of anything risqué to boot). Bits and pieces of the tale are missing – a number of chapters and sections have been abridged or omitted. Several characters are missing in action, the Lost Children arc is gone entirely, and the Tower of Conviction is a total mess. Omega did finally manage to get Wyald on screen, at least.
The characters themselves look great with a detailed, cel-shaded appearance, which comes as a stark contrast to the empty, muddy environments. If it wasn't for the texture filtering and parallax, the levels could easily be mistaken for something out of a PS2 game. The soundtrack, while not terrible, suffers from a distinct lack of Susumu Hirasawa, which will likely come as a disappointment to long-time series fans – Hirasawa's gloriously over-the-top synth orchestra tunes characterized much of the previous Berserk media.
As in standard Musou fashion, you'll hack, slash, and buttonmash your way through various battlefields to contemplate monologues while leading your troops to victory. Smacking down enough enemies lets you activate Frenzy Mode, which boosts your damage and allows you to charge up screen-devastatingly huge Deathblow attacks. Combos are distressingly simplistic, and there's little tact or strategy involved other than finding the densest group of enemies to slash apart in order to charge Frenzy Mode faster. Health-sponge elite enemies and minibosses pop up from time to time, but don't last long against Deathblow attacks if you can avoid being stunlocked.
The first few missions introduce you to several mechanics such as Morale and Base Capture, wherein claiming territory and defeating powerful enemies will encourage your troops to fight harder, thus making it easier to push through the map - in practice, these end up having no bearing on battles whatsoever as the morale meter never actually seems to move. On top of that, Morale and Base Capturing are promptly forgotten about after the first handful of missions and are never seen again.
It can be novel to play through some of the story's bigger battles such as the Siege of Doldrey, but as a result of the barebones mechanics, every mission ends up playing almost the exact same – even iconic moments such as the Eclipse are reduced to a dull slog as you wrestle against the camera while wading through hordes of copy-pasted monsters. Things start to pick up once you get your hands on the Dragonslayer, but the few enjoyable sections there are end up being swept away under the tide of filler missions.
If you're feeling especially masochistic after the story mode, there's also the Endless Eclipse, an endurance run which has you plunging into the abyss with your favourite character to tackle bonus objectives and plunder collectables. It's not long before repetition sets in, and unless you're desperate to unlock a few underwhelming alternate costumes, you'll likely get bored within the first few floors.
Berserk has its moments – the Berserker Armor is absolutely hilarious, and getting to play as Zodd is awesome – but a few glimmers of amusement aren't enough to save it. The game doesn't have a lot to offer anybody – newcomers to the series will be left in the dust, long-time fans will be turned off by the clumsy adaptation, and anyone looking for a decent action game should grab a copy of Nioh instead. It's likely this will end up as just another forgotten footnote in the series' troubled history of adaptations.