While Final Fantasy and Fallout may have abandoned their turned-based roots in favour of real-time alternatives, there's still something alluring and timeless about classic turn-based RPGs. Airship Syndicate's Battle Chasers: Nightwar works to tap into this golden era of gaming whilst also introducing elements of exploration and dungeon crawling. The project spanned from the classic 1998 comic of the same name, shattered its Kickstarter goal of $500,000 USD in 2015, and is out now on PC, PS4, and Xbox One (with a Nintendo Switch version on the way).
While it has been adapted from the comic of the same name, Battle Chasers is self-contained with a story completely independent of its source material. This presents no barriers to newcomers and also brings to life an iconic cast of heroes and a stylised world many older fans are deeply familiar with. You start by commanding three characters - Garrison, Gully and Callibretto - who find themselves separated after their airship is shot out of the sky.
You'll advance to new dungeons and towns by traversing a board game-like overworld map, which is divided into individual tiles. The map is presented in a hand-drawn style and spans across multiple locales such as deserts, forests, and snowy peaks. Instead of encounters happening at random, you're shown which creatures you'll face if you're to stand on that particular tile. Knowing what faces you can be advantageous as paths are often branching, so you can choose what you'd like to face to earn valuable crafting resources. Along the way there are also hidden chests and loot stashes as well as optional objectives to complete.
Dungeons are randomly generated and brimming with swarms of enemies, deadly traps, and heaps of loot. Rotating blades and poison traps can reduce your health and also inflict status conditions which carry over to battle. It's here where you characters' dungeon abilities can be used. Garrion, for example, can sprint out of the path of projectiles; Gully can smash through obstructions; and Calibretto can heal your entire party. These moves only have a limited use and you'll find little opportunity to replenish them, so using them at the right times is crucial.
If you've already played a turn-based RPG you should know what to expect with regards to combat. Characters take it in turns to trade damage by dealing physical and magic attacks, working to slowly whittle down the other's health. That's not to say that Battle Chasers doesn't introduce its own share of mechanics, though. Overcharge is additional mana that expires beyond the current battle and is earnt by executing certain moves. There's also the burst meter, which lets you unleash game-changing abilities and is built up by healing, attacking, and by using consumables. Using your burst attack at the right moment is important, as it can completely sway a battle in your favour and requires a lengthy wait to replenish.