Sword of the Berserk: Guts' Rage was made exclusively for the Sega Dreamcast and to my knowledge is the only NTSC game developed that is related to the series. There is a another title that has been released, Berserk and the Band of the hawk for PS4 but ti doesn't appear to have been released stateside as of yet. If you're not familiar with the story then this review may contain spoilers so read at your own risk but I promise not to give too much away. Sword of the Berserk takes place after the Golden Age Arc and before the Conviction Arc. Casca has suffered terribly and has the mind of a newborn while Guts has suffered physically, losing his right eye and left forearm. But, both did survive the eclipse and appear to have been traveling for sometime with Puck. Where the games story fits in is when the trio come across a village supposedly plagued with a disease that turns people into Mandragorans (photo is below). Apparently, after saving the city you, Guts, find out that there might be a cure for Casca so your adventure into the twisted world of Berserk begins.
I don't want to go into the story too much because it is one of the best features of the game. Imagine if you will, this game plays like reading a chapter of the series. You get to watch the dialogue but play as Guts when hacking down the hordes of enemies and monsters. It's an amazing concept that actually works. It feels like an episode (hence the title). However, in every adaptation, Guts makes his killing sprees feasible. The game is less forgiving. In keeping it articulate with the story, you get the bombs, fairy dust and the arm cannon, they are all extremely helpful which is good. Everything counts. The canon is particularly enjoyable. You also get to use the hunk of iron of a sword known as the Dragonslayer. All these items are given to you at the very beginning, you don't collect anything except more quantities of the items. As you progress through the game you realize two immediate things, you're going to die and your sword is limited. When I say you're going to die I mean it, you will die. Your fairy dust may revive your health and you can find them in crates but you're going to be the punching bag often. You don't get extra lives, you get continues and it is hard to run out of them. When it comes to using your sword there was only one issue and it is significant. When you hit a wall or anything that isn't a crate or enemy your weapon is deflected which gives you a second to become the punching bag. This is such an issue because there are multiple times when you're in close quarters and you cannot just swing away or make use of your other attacks. You have repeat the same strike again over and over or use your fists which makes the bloodbath seem tamed. Also, enemies often mesh into the wall and you have to kill them to proceed. All this means is a pattern of a single strike, deflect and repeat. Or, you just run past the enemies, if possible, to the next area to avoid all this. That is the biggest flaw I wanted to go into detail about. I've listed more cons below. Combat is simple enough, I found myself doing a lot of button mashing but you do have some extra moves that are neat. There are no combos or skill tree, just some classic fighting. One last thing that is important to mention is that you get to go berserk. Once you've shed enough blood you'll go into a invincible state when your screen becomes tinted in red and you fulfill your dream of becoming Guts in his most memorable form.
I discussed some key areas of the game and hopefully id not provide too much insight too the story but have created an interest of this amazing series. This game is not for everyone. I enjoyed this game because of the story and my appreciation of Berserk. The gameplay can be frustrating at times, becoming repetitive so it may not keep everyone's interest. Overall, I recommend this for fans and fans alone. If you've never read the manga or at least watched the 1997 series then this game will probably not be a memorable experience.
I'd alos like to state that the best part of this game is having Puck doing a variety of actions on the VMU, it was an excellent touch.
- The game really does feel like an episode. The story from beginning to end is intense and feels authentic, the same goes for the characters.
- Susumu Hirasawa, the individual who composed the 1997 anime series score also composed the soundtrack.
- Using the Dragonslayer is a rush, especially when you go berserk. Swordplay will never be the same again.
- For lack of a better term, the boss battle and ending scene are epic. It gives something every Berserk fan has wanted for a long, long time.
- Use of quick-time events to keep you on your feet.
- Awesome enemies and boss fights. Zodd even makes an appearance.
- The game will sheath your sword during multiple cut-scenes and throw you in a battle right after. Take a hit or be quick on your feet.
- You can get knocked down or struck multiple times by the same enemy which will drain health quickly in a barrage your practically powerless to stop until it's over.
- You sword is so massive that close quarter fighting is a hassle. Your sword bounces off walls when fighting and you're guaranteed to hit so many walls and other surroundings. In short, you are sometimes unable to swing your sword around and have to stick to a single move because of this fault. Enemies get stuck in walls, creating a frustrating situation when fighting.
- Slow reaction time when blocking or using items. You almost have to be stationary.