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Topics - Blessed.

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Berserk Miscellaneous / Interpreting Berserk through games.
« on: July 09, 2016, 01:09:46 AM »
Adapting good fiction is hard. Adapting Berserk, therefore, is probably very hard. For all the flaws of the feature length movies, the currently airing anime, and even the 1997 anime, each of those has at least shown their work and effort in attempting to convey Berserk's story and characters. This is why I'm not convinced by Berserk Warriors/Musou. These games are typically reskins of Dynasty Warriors with some token recognition of their source material; Hyrule Warriors, for instance, had clunky items and awful boss battles to sell its "Zeldaness". A fun diversion? Quite possibly. But not really what Berserk deserves, given the things games can accomplish. Currently, the best "Berserk" games are Dragon's Dogma and the Souls series, and not only because of the direct material references contained in those games. Dragon's Dogma and the Souls games both have thematically similar narratives when compared to Berserk, revolving around the conflict between free will and predetermination. They set us against powerful enemies that require us to use our tactical options to greatest effect, mixing strategy with the disempowerment of horror games.

All that naturally begs a question: What does a truly great, but plausible, Berserk game look and feel like? One thing I enjoy so much about this question is the lack of an absolute answer. To me, different arcs are very much asking for different game structures and different gameplay mechanics. The Golden Age arc could very much be communicated by a fairly traditional strategy game, but Black Swordsman through to the conclusion of Conviction probably want to be an action RPG. Millennium Falcon onward, with its shifting character focuses, could very well be a party-oriented RPG. None of those, of course, are absolute statements. But games want to take different forms to convey their content appropriately, just as any other medium does.

To round off this post, I'd like to talk about approaching the kinds of concepts I feel would be appropriate for representing Guts. This could be a challenge, as we can't have mook squads be too weak (as that doesn't generate tension), but Guts also has to have the capacity to ultimately fight godlike beings -- if at a cost. The best thing I can think of is to use percentage damage modifiers that stack as separate parts of damage calculation (so each modifier influences the other modifiers), rather than providing flat damage upgrades or bonuses. With the right values attached to the right triggers (especially those associated with aggressive approaches to combat), this could allow Guts' damage to scale sharply upward while pushing the player to roleplay Guts' through his combat style. A group of brigands might be no issue at base damage, but fighting Zodd to a standstill should require Guts to concentrate his strength. The resulting experience would, hopefully, feel dramatic; some damage boosting triggers might require very risky actions, ensuring that accessing Guts' maximum power puts success on a knife's edge.

And that's only discussing one potential approach to one character. I think I've made my point: Berserk is a sprawling story with fantastic characters, and each of those characters could be represented through their own themes and trials as depicted within the manga. Just as Guts doesn't need to be a generic greatsword character, Schierke doesn't need to be a generic DPS wizard, and so on. The potential of Berserk games is as broad as the story itself, so I'd love to see something more than the "best of" approach Warriors/Musou games take, especially given how far even simple character action games have come since the DC/PS2 titles.     

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