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Video Game / Berserk and the Band of the Hawk

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Bottom center: Guts. Top from left to right: Griffith, Casca, Femto.
Rage overpowers fear.

Berserk and the Band of the Hawk, known in Japan as Beruseruku Musō (ベルセルク無双 ), is a Dynasty Warriors-style videogame adaptation of Kentaro Miura's epic Dark Fantasy manga Berserk, published by Koei Tecmo and developed by Omega Force. Announced by Koei Tecmo on June 12 at E3 2016, it was released in Japan on October 27, 2016, for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and the PlayStation Vita. It was released in North America and Europe on February 21 and 24 of 2017, respectively, for the PlayStation 4, the PlayStation Vita, and on the PC through Steam.

As with the main Dynasty Warriors series, players can choose one of eight characters and fight against waves of enemies in Hack and Slash combat while completing mission objectives on a large battlefield. The gameplay is similar to One Piece: Pirate Warriors: The basic controls are normal attack, charge attack, quick step, and guard. Normal and charge attacks can be chained for combo attacks. Attacking enemies builds up a Frenzy gauge until you can enter Frenzy mode, in which your attacks are more powerful and you take no damage. Enemies you kill in Frenzy mode release Lost Souls, which fill up a gauge to perform a Death Blow attack that inflicts massive damage. Characters can also undergo a Transformation that changes their form and attacks.

The game spans the Golden Age, Black Swordsman, Conviction, and Millennium Falcon arcs from the manga. Both in-engine cutscenes and clips from the anime movie trilogy Berserk: The Golden Age Arc are used to help tell the story. Watch the story trailer here, and find out more about the game on its European and American websites here and here.

Warning: All spoilers up to volume 32 are unmarked

This game contains the following tropes:

  • Absurdly Ineffective Barricade: In the Golden Age Missions there are walls made out of piled-up rocks, but they don't serve much of a gameplay purpose and you can destroy them with one blow, or by riding right through them on your horse.
  • Action Girl: Band of the Hawk Casca and Schierke are playable while Farnese is an NPC combatant.
  • Action Prologue: At the beginning of a new game in story mode, Guts finds himself in the blood-stained world of the Eclipse and has to fight his way through a short level full of monsters without knowing how he got there. At the end of the level he encounters an unconscious Casca restrained by Tentacle Rope while Femto taunts his pathetic struggle. Any player who's read Berserk before will pick up on details such as Casca's long hair and Guts' appearance and equipment that are from much later in the story. Indeed, everything dissolves into mist and disembodied voices as soon as Femto speaks, revealing that it to be a dream that Guts is having before a battle just prior to meeting Griffith and the Band of the Hawk for the first time. It is during the cutscene from Berserk: The Golden Age Arc I - The Egg of the King which ensues after this prologue that The Narrator begins to introduce the themes and setting of the story.
  • Adaptational Badass: Par for the course with Musou titles, every playable character is designed to be a One-Man Army regardless of whether or not they're actually capable of such feats in manga canon. Besides that, certain individuals stand out, including:
    • Guts himself, who's shown to be even more resilient in this game than his manga counterpart. He pulls off several dominant victories against grueling odds rather than the worse for wear condition he'd normally find himself reduced to. Case in point, the aftermath of his fight with Ganishka: Manga!Guts was physically drained to the point of collapsing and had to be carried off onto the boat by several people; Game!Guts not only stood tall throughout the ordeal, but was able to continue walking under his own power when the dust settled.
    • Farnese, while still pretty weak, actively participates in battles right off the bat and even displays competent swordsmanship skills, unlike her manga self's near-useless status before she took steps to improve by learning magic.
    • Emperor Ganishka's giant mist form doesn't immediately dissipate once Guts manages to hit his forehead weak spot. Instead, it only makes the rest of him vulnerable to physical attacks, taking a lot more punishment from the Dragonslayer before he finally goes down for good.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Guts is much less of a Nominal Hero in the game's version of the Black Swordsman Arc, which is demonstrated when he goes around freeing townsfolk imprisoned throughout the map. In the manga he told Puck he didn't care how many weaklings died as a result of him provoking the Baron, and went so far as to conceal himself under a mound of their corpses in order to ambush the Baron and his men.
  • Adaptational Modesty: In a similar vein to the previous games, the amount of nudity, sex, and sexual assault shown onscreen is significantly reduced compared to the manga, although it's still pretty intense by videogame standards. One example is the part from Chapter of the Holy Demon War where Casca wanders off and nearly gets raped by bandits: in the manga the bandits rip her clothes off before she kills them in a Full-Frontal Assault, but in the game she still has her habit on when Guts arrives at the scene. Then in the manga Guts has a Near-Rape Experience under the influence of the Beast of Darkness where he pins her down, forcibly kisses her, and bites her breast hard enough to draw blood until he snaps out of it and goes My God, What Have I Done?, whereas in the game he just holds her down while hearing the Beast of Darkness urging him to kill her and regains his senses before he does anything else.
  • Adaptation Expansion: While various parts of the manga story are compressed or skipped, there are also new dialogue scenes that try to flesh out the characters' backstories and personalities. Some of these scenes, such as one where Griffith promotes Guts to raid captain and introduces him to Gaston, showing an event that happened during one of the manga's timeskips.
  • Adapted Out: Once again, the entire Chapter of Lost Children got skipped over, while the rest are made up of heavily condensed adaptations of Golden Age, Black Swordsman, Conviction, and Millennium Falcon arcs, in that order. As a result, the majority of supporting characters from these various storylines (e.g. Theresia, Jill, Azan, Jerome and Luca) have been cut.
  • Adjustable Censorship: At least in the North American release, you are given an option to play with Gore turned off, in which case the display of blood will be kept to a minimum.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Similar to the Warriors Orochi games and Hyrule Warriors, you can spend money to level up characters, meaning you don't have to grind as each individual character to make them usable.
  • Artifact Title: While the name of Griffith's mercenary group was originally localized as the "Band of the Hawk", its official name is the "Band of the Falcon", making the game's title outdated.
  • Artistic License – Engineering: The catapults in a certain castle level are big counterweight trebuchets, but the projectile is held in a simple wooden cup on the end of the long arm—a feature that's more typical for smaller, torsion catapults—instead of a sling pouch suspended from the tip of the long arm like historical trebuchets. Contrary to popular belief, the sling is not just a convenient release mechanism. It is actually key to the machine's throwing power since it increases the linear velocity of the projectile beyond that of the tip of the arm to which it is attached, and—together with the fact that the counterweight is hinged rather than fixed directly to the arm—creates a stall point which ensures that more energy is transferred to the projectile instead of being wasted just moving the arm and counterweight. Without a sling, the machine is far less efficient.
  • Assist Character:
    • As her Deathblow, Casca calls upon four pikemen to charge her enemies.
    • Schierke can summon Golems to fight alongside her.
  • Automaton Horses: Horses function just like they do in the other Warriors games, meaning that they never tire, cannot be harmed and can charge through armies without any problems.
  • Backstory: The Golden Age begins with a text window quickly summarizing Guts' backstory from his birth to the age of fifteen, including how he was born from a hanged woman and raised by the mercenary Gambino. He references his past in a few of the camp dialogue events.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: The Japanese game edits private parts and female nipples out of the movie cutscenes by applying a skin-colored patch.
  • Battle Amongst the Flames: Guts arrives to help fight off the Midland attack on the Hawk remnants while the camp is on fire.
  • Battle Aura: It wouldn't be a Warriors game without it, but since this is Berserk, everyone gets a blood aura.
  • BFS:
    • Band of the Hawk Guts wields his two-handed sword, while Black Swordsman and Berserker Armor Guts brandish the even-more massive Dragonslayer.
    • Nosferatu Zodd wields a massive cleaver-like falchion as his main weapon.
  • Blade Enthusiast: Judeau's moveset makes heavy use while Guts has throwing knives as sub-weapons. While not playable, Isidro has his salamander dagger.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Thanks to its attempt to be faithful to the famously graphic source material, Berserk is supposed to be significantly more gruesome than any Warriors game that preceded it.
  • Blood-Splattered Warrior: Your character model gets splattered with more and more blood as you chop away at enemies.
  • Blow You Away:
    • Serpico wields his Sylph Sword and Cloak, letting him fight using gusts of Razor Wind and conjure a tornado as his Deathblow.
    • Schierke uses wind magic to conjure tornadoes.
    • In his Apostle form, Zodd can create powerful gusts of wind using his wings. The same goes for Femto.
  • Bowdlerize:
    • Nudity is significantly toned down throughout the game compared to the manga and movies, which involves altering the movie cutscenes that originally included nudity to be more modest. This ranges from skipping over some of the more explicit shots, to applying Barbie Doll Anatomy and censor shadows with varying degrees of subtlety.
    • The Japanese version of the game features slightly less gore and blood during its gameplay. While dismemberment of enemies occurs, it only happens to non-human enemies such as trolls and demons, as human dismemberment is prohibited by Japanese video game laws. In the western release, gore levels have been slightly increased, and human dismemberment has been added.
    • Wyald's main personality trait in the source material was 'brutish Serial Rapist'. Obviously, that wouldn't fly in a game like this, so the dev team decided to play up his peculiar appearance and fondness for showboating and turn him into a Fighting Clown who's creepily polite to the female characters he meets.
  • Breast Plate: Caska's default breastplate has a highly sculpted "boobs" shape, even more so than her armor in Berserk: The Golden Age Arc (in which the breasts are defined in a way that's noticeable but not quite as exaggerated). In comparison, the more functionally designed version in the original manga has only a hint of cleavage and defines the breasts much more subtly, while the '97 anime dispenses with the boob design altogether. However, she has a more practical chestplate as an alternate costume.
  • Breath Weapon: In his Apostle form, Wyald can chew up boulders and spew out shrapnel from his chest-mouth.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Wyald hams it up by calling the name of each of his boss attacks, in Gratuitous English no less: "Wyald chop! Wyald Backfist!"
  • Censor Shadow: Shadows, ranging from convenient to blatantly placed, help to obscure nudity in the cutscenes from the movies.
  • Character Level: Earning enough experience points causes you to level up and have your vitality refilled. When reaching certain levels, your Action Level will increase and you get access to new attacks. It also affects your four stats: vitality, attack, defense, and technique.
  • Character Name and the Noun Phrase: Berserk and the Band of the Hawk is missing one part of this title trope, since it's actually a "Franchise Name and the Noun" Phrase. Still, it sounds like an example, and a newcomer used to this kind of title might be forgiven for assuming Berserk was the name of the main character.
  • Character Portrait: Whichever character is talking gets a text box and character portrait, with different facial expressions for various emotions. It gets incongruous in the movie clip of nobles gossiping about Griffith's victory: they're all wearing frilly civilian clothes, with no armor to be seen, but the character portraits for their dialogue are soldiers wearing helmets.
  • Color-Coded Armies: An interesting combination of consistent colored uniforms for each side, and Good Colors, Evil Colors for the floating health bars over each unit's head. Midland soldiers are always dressed in blue, Tudor soldiers in red, and the Band of the Hawk in green, regardless of which side is the enemy in a given mission. Still, no matter what they're wearing enemies will always have red health bars over their heads, and allies will have blue health bars.
  • Compressed Adaptation: In spades. Plenty of the manga's more character-driven moments are lost due to the game's bare-bones approach at story retelling (e.g. the removal of Vargas and Theresia from the Guardians of Desire plotline), thus turning these events into shallow husks of their original depictions.
  • Cutscene: Story scenes come in a variety of types including scripted in-engine scenes, pre-rendered CG cutscenes, and some 120 minutes of footage from the anime movie trilogy Berserk: The Golden Age Arc.
  • Darker and Edgier: Not to the original source, but to the Musou franchise overall. This game is touted as "The most brutal game in Warriors history!"
  • Downloadable Content: Japanese players who purchase the initial release of the game will get a DLC code for a Bathing Casca costume. There are also various DLC missions, including Casca's battle against Adon. There are also various downloadable mounts, including Lü Bu's Red Hare and Maeda Keiji's Matsukaze from Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors respectively as well as the infamous "Rape Horse" via a code from the guidebook.
  • Dual Wielding:
    • Zodd wields a battle-axe alongside his massive cleaver.
    • Judeau fights using a pair of short swords, in addition to his throwing knives.
  • Eldritch Location: The Qliphoth and the location of the Eclipse are two of the playable stages.
  • Elite Mook: Officers in the Golden Age Arc, who wear full plate armor, fight with heavy weapons, and can take more hits than regular mooks.
  • Experience Points: Defeating enemies and clearing scenarios earns you experience points, which you collect in order to level up.
  • Face Doodling: An optional costume for Schierke is based on the pirate face Isidro and Puck doodled on her while she was in a trance from astral projection.
  • Feather Motif: Band of the Hawk Reborn Griffith has wing motifs on his armor.
  • Final Boss: Emperor Ganishka in his Apostle form is fought at the end of the game.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: More than one character can perform such an attack, and if you charge on horseback into enemy ranks they get scattered like so many bowling pins.
  • Fragile Speedster: Griffith, Casca, Judeau and Serpico's movesets emphasize speed and agility rather than raw power.
  • Friendly Fireproof: In story mode at least, you can be packed in among both friendly and hostile troops, and the same swing of your sword will damage the hostiles while passing harmlessly through the friendlies.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • The implementation of the typical Warriors gameplay formula means that pretty much every playable fight in the story is turned into a big battle, even if it was only a duel or minor skirmish in the manga/anime. For example, when Corkus attacks Guts to take the money and bragging rights from killing Bazuso, he only brings five or six friends to back him up in the original manga, and you can count five horsemen plus Corkus in the movie clip that plays in-game. When the level actually starts, however, it seems like Corkus has somehow mobilized several hundred riders and foot soldiers. In the manga, following that incident, Guts tells Griffith that he killed one of his men (Corkus' friend Dante), while in the game you can kill more like three hundred by the time Griffith takes you down. That fact that Griffith easily forgives Guts for killing several hundred of his men is just glossed over.
    • When Guts and Casca are attacked in the forest by General Adon, the player is urged to slay 1000 soldiers. The clips from the film have his comrades celebrating Guts being the '100-man Slayer'. Even more amusing given that 100 kills in a level in a Warriors title is considered a low body count.
    • The Berserker Armor's inherent drawbacks aren't present during gameplay. Guts remains perfectly in control of his actions just fine without Schierke's help, cannot harm NPC allies, and doesn't show any signs of physical strain other than a brief moment of dizziness when exiting Berserk mode.
  • Godiva Hair: Farnese is topless throughout the Night of Miracles level, but at least her nipples are always hidden by her long hair. For comparison, her toplessness was explicit in the original manga, while the broadcast version of Berserk (2016) went with Barbie Doll Anatomy instead. Mocked a bit on the Jimquisition:
    Jim Sterling: I'm impressed with her hair—in fact all of the women's hair in this game. Really good at sticking to breasts like fly paper. I've never seen human hair that can actually do that in real [life], but in videogames it seems to happen a lot. I'm always impressed by that, must get the name of their stylist.
  • Graceful Loser: Would you believe that Femto isn't too off-put if you beat him at the bottom of the Abyss? He straight-up congratulates the player!
    Femto: This infinite, endless desire...magnificent. Go on now! Do as thou wilt.
  • Gratuitous English: Wyald peppers his combat dialogue and announces his attacks in English. His in-game Leitmotif also has him randomly chanting "Exciting".
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: Guts' X > X > Y attack is to stab a mook through the body, raise his sword over his head with the mook still stuck on the end, and slam him down onto his hapless fellows.
  • Harder Than Hard: There are four difficulty levels to choose from: Easy, Normal, Hard, and—you guessed it—Berserk.
  • Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: In the Golden Age boss fight with Zodd, you fail the mission if you die, but after you beat him in gameplay he still defeats Guts and Griffith in the subsequent cutscene because the story requires it.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: Just like in the canon, there is no way to beat Femto during the Eclipse in story mode. Not only does he conjure tornadoes that can hurl you back and teleport you away from him, but you're constantly slowed down whenever you get too close because of the Brand, making it easier to get hurled or teleported away.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Slan of the Godhand - or at least her avatar made of troll intestines - appears as a boss, and New Band of the Hawk Griffith can transform into Femto of the Godhand.
  • Inexplicable Treasure Chests: Goodies such as healing items may be found in large treasure chests sitting in the middle of battlefields and other places that make you wonder just who put them there. At least they're usually located near field bases.
  • Invulnerable Horses: Averted for enemy horses, which can be killed, but played straight for the player's own horse which is impossible to harm.
  • Jack of All Stats: Judeau has the most versatile moveset.
  • Level-Map Display: The preparation screen before you start a level includes the minimap marked with the locations of allied and friendly units.
  • Level-Up Fill-Up: Leveling up restores your vitality bar.
  • Lightning Bruiser: When using the Berserker Armor, Guts' already inhuman strength, durability, and speed are dialed up to eleven.
  • Limit Break: The Death Blows, this game's variant of the Musou attack, which can be used to wipe out massive numbers of enemies.
  • Loading Screen: The loading screen between levels is solid black, with Chestnut Puck in the lower corner practicing with his thistle sword against the "Now Loading..." text.
  • Magikarp Power: Schierke's attacks, normally require charging up to perform. In Frenzy Mode however, they become much faster and their already impressive AoE is enhanced greatly, making her objectively the most powerful character in the game.
  • Mighty Glacier: Guts, Zodd and Wyald's movesets consist of powerful but sluggish swings with their weapons.
  • Mission Briefing: Before each level there is a briefing screen where you look at the level map, the disposition of friendly and hostile forces, the victory conditions, and bonus objectives for earning behelits. Player Info allows you to pick your character and loadout.
  • Mook Maker: Army supply camps called Bases are spread around the battlefield, and allied or enemy reinforcements deploy from the base depending on which side controls it. You capture an enemy base by defeating the base commander guarding it.
  • Mooks: The most numerous enemies by far are small fry that come at you in swarms and go down in a few hits.
  • Morale Mechanic: The morale gauge represents the balance of advantage between two opposing armies, and the more it tips in your favor, the more momentum you gain in your advance.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: Serpico's Frenzy Mode has him switch his rapier out for the Sylph Sword, which gives all of his attacks Razor Wind properties.
  • Palette Swap:
    • Guts has a white-haired, white-armored alternate costume called the White Swordsman.
    • Band of the Hawk Reborn Griffith has a gold-armored palette swap, complete with golden hair, called the Golden Hawk.
  • Power Echoes: Whenever Guts activates the full might of the Berserker Armor, his voice also changes to that of a reverberating, demonic growl.
  • Protection Mission: Toward the end of the Night of Miracles level, you have to protect a stationary Farnese from swarms of posessed dogs and evil spirits until dawn.
  • One-Man Army: The player! For all that Guts is a one-man army in the manga—to the point where has a kill counter to keep track of everything he slays—the fact that this is not just a videogame, but a Warriors game, means that Conservation of Ninjutsu will be in effect. Killing several hundred mooks single-handed in one level is par for the course, even when playing as other characters such as Casca and Judeau whose manga kill counts are much less lopsided than Guts, and it's possible in many levels to exceed even the highest estimates for Guts' manga kills all the way up to volume 37!
  • One-Winged Angel: Certain characters have "Awakenings" that gives them powerful new forms.
    • Berserker Armor Guts' Transformation has him succumb to the Beast of Darkness indwelling the armor.
    • New Band of the Hawk Griffith's Transformation has him turn into the Hawk of Darkness, Femto of the Godhand.
    • Apostles such as Zodd and Wyald can transform into their Apostle mode.
  • Overcrank: In the part of the Hill of Swords cutscene where Zodd bursts out from under a heap of boulders, the reaction shots of Casca seeing the falling boulders and Guts breaking into a run to reach her are made more dramatic by slow motion.
  • Reality Warper: Femto's attacks involve manipulating space-time to attack his opponents and telekinetically send them flying.
  • Royal Rapier: Serpico uses a rapier as his main weapon.
  • Score Screen: After you beat each level, you get awarded points based on things like how many enemies you killed and how fast you cleared the mission.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: Griffith's seduction of Charlotte features the scene up to the point of Dress Hits Floor, then skips to after they've done the deed with Charlotte asleep in bed, and Griffith in the Troubled Fetal Position.
  • Sexy Soaked Shirt: Casca's appearance while soaking in the waterfall is a pre-order bonus costume DLC in Japan, showing her wearing a translucent white shirt that gets wetter the more she fights, though its sexiness is undercut by the fact that it's from her post-Eclipse Shower of Angst, with an extra dash of creepiness coming from her being mentally a child at that time.
  • She-Fu: Casca fights using slashes from her longsword and acrobatic flips and kicks.
  • Single-Stroke Battle: Downplayed by turning Guts and Griffith's duel in the snow into a full-length Boss Fight, but having it end with the simultaneous strike that sunders Griffith's sword.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: No matter how great the difference between you and the Mooks, they'll keep attacking as if they have a snowball's chance in hell of beating you.
  • Super Mode: After filling up a gauge, characters can enter Frenzy Mode, where their stats are drastically boosted and they can perform their Deathblows. Certain characters can go one step further and activate One-Winged Angel transformations as noted above.
  • Start Screen: A big ol' Berserk Musou logo with a flaming Brand of Sacrifice, against a sky with a hawk flying in front of the sun and the PRESS START message flashing below. The scenery actually changes depending on your progress in Story Mode.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: In the Attract Mode cutscene, Zodd seizes Guts in his hand, but Guts frees himself by throwing the friggin' Dragon Slayer into Zodd's eye.
  • Video Game Tutorial: The Action Prologue contains the basic combat tutorial. Tutorial messages continue through the first level, which teaches the player how to progress through a typical level, objectives, and boss fight.
  • Vocal Dissonance: For such a massive and absolutely barbaric Humanoid Abomination who can transform into a gigantic Killer Gorilla-like demon, Wyald's Japanese voice is surprisingly high-pitched. Then again, it can be quite fitting for his Laughably Evil antics.
  • War Was Beginning: The Narrator introduces the history of the Hundred Year War during the opening movie where Guts participates in storming a castle.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: One of Casca's unique attacks is a Cammy-style Hurricanrana.

Alternative Title(s): Berserk, Berserk Musou