Having recently released, Battle Hunters is a real time strategy dungeon crawling RPG that sees some older adventures regather in order to overcome a new evil. Knowing that they cannot do it alone, our starting trinity of Knight, Wizard and Ranger set off to find others to recruit to their cause such as Rogues, Barbarians, Warrior Monks, Swordsmen, Space Marines and more.
Battle Hunters to me felt a lot like Rainbow Moon, the first title from SideQuest Studios before Rainbow Skies, which had a lot of good ideas and is quite mechanically sound, but, it feels like it misses the mark when it comes to storytelling and actually interacting with the world. Essentially, instead of developing the characters and having banter while walking around or before jumping into fights, the only dialog to be found here will be whilte recruiting your new members, when you take up a quest from a random NPC, or hit a story marker. There was so much potential to be more than simply a mechanical dungeon crawler but it wasn’t capitalized on.
So starting off with a short tutorial to give you an introduction to the mechanics that you’ll have plenty of time to master over the next several hours, it won’t take long for you to begin to get familiar with the available characters. If there’s one thing that you get taught early enough on, it’s that Battle Hunters is not an easy grind that you can simply set your controller down and leave on autopilot. With only three characters at a time and often against four to six others if not giant bosses, the level of micro management is something that I haven’t had to do in a while and I’ll be honest that it created a challenge that I gladly accepted.
Each character while on the field of battle can use items, move, defend, attack, and once leveled up enough use three special abilities with various cooldowns. Each action has a bit of time that is required to pull it off so if you decide to move, you can still be attacked by the foes surrounding that particular character which only gets worse the squishier they get. Magic types CANNOT take a hit which is pretty standard so their protection should always come first as they are often the first to be targeted.
One interesting aspect to combat is that none of your characters will ever start with a special ability at the ready making easy fights something to watch out for until they are ready and then it becomes easy to clear the field. Often though this won’t be the case as not only are you often outnumbered, you’re also underleveled and leveling actually doesn’t come easy as winning battles will often give you what I felt like was next to nothing in terms of experience. While it does make sense for the challenge aspect and how “early” you get all of your abilities, the challenge at times I felt like it would simply chase newcomers to the style away with such a high entry point in terms of difficulty.
Moving outside of battle though, you won’t be doing much other than walking across a map looking for the next fight which will often lead you to a “key” of sorts to unlock a door, bridge or portal, which will lead to more fights. It makes the world feel… empty. It’s there, and there are foes that are on the map that you’ll head towards, but that’s it. You have access to an alchemist who sells you potions and a merchant that sells you food in case you’ve used too much or haven’t picked enough out of the surrounding treasure chests. Otherwise, even from an audio standpoint, if you aren’t in battle there’s no background music and you’ve really got to crank the sound up to hear the ambient noises just adding to the emptiness that you’re moving your party through.