Berserk and the Band of the Hawk Better Be Awesome, or Koei Tecmo Will Be Dead to Me

As far as I'm concerned (and I am concerned), Kentaro Miura's Berserk manga whose originally run started in 1989 is the progenitor of numerous popular video games, and many American gamers have no idea what the hell it is.

Well before Koei Tecmo (when it was just Koei) ever created Dynasty Warriors, let alone conceived of the idea to reimagine Berserk as a Musuo game today, the manga's protagonist Guts was the original Hundred Man Slayer. Before Cloud ever wielded a sword far larger than his body, Guts was swinging the Dragonslayer—which is really just a giant slab of iron—into all manner of hellspawn.

Hidetaka Miyazaki, the director for Demon's Souls, notes Berserk has one of his primary inspirations for the series. And if you pay careful attention to the Dark Souls series, especially the ending for Dark Souls III, you will find almost literal references to Berserk. I mean, Guts' journey in the second arc of the manga is essentially like living in the Dark Souls universe, an inhospitable, barren, and dark medieval fantasy where demons want to consume him.

And so it is deeply satisfying encouraging to see Koei Tecmo finally give the musou treatment to Berserk and the Band of the Hawk, if just to bring the manga and subsequent anime adaptations back into the limelight. Berserk actually arrived in the video game world in 2000 as Sword of the Berserk: Guts' Rage back on the Dreamcast to fair reception, though it flew right past the gaming audience. Developer Omega Force has been dancing on the lip of the volcano for the past few years, adapting other worthy franchises like The Legend of Zelda, Attack on Titan, Fist of the North Star, and Dragon Quest into the fray, before leaping headfirst into the beast that is Berserk.

Looking at the game's Tokyo Game Show trailer more closely, you'll be able to play as Guts as he decimates swathes of knights with a single swing, but also many other members of the Band of the Hawk including the female captain Casca and the knife-throwing rogue Judeau. Better yet, the game will incorporate "120 hours worth of cinematic footage," with most of it hopefully coming from the recent theatrical three-part remake of the original anime, which I recommend you watch especially if you're new to the series. (The original late-'90s anime spreads the Golden Arc of the manga over 25 episodes so it's much fuller.)

Even further, Berserk and the Band of the Hawk will push past the Golden Arc of the series and follow Guts' path in a way that's better than the current anime series, which has been criticized for its artstyle. So let's hope that Koei Tecmo and Omega Force will be giving the game the full treatment rather than just Dynasty Warriors with some palette swaps and some fan-service cutscenes tossed in. Koei Tecmo can be hit or miss when it comes to its musou adaptations, and the demo footage so far from TGS 2016 has been middling, so I'm only slightly optimistic that this will make Kentaru Miura proud. The question is whether the developers can handle Berserk, not the other way around.

Either way, I'll be following the title with intense, wolf-like hunger. The American release of Berserk and the Band of the Hawk will swing into stores on February 21, 2017 on PS4, PS3, Vita, and Windows PC.