Warhammer: Chaosbane
— WARHAMMER-CHAOSBANE.COM/

Video Game Review
Warhammer: Chaosbane
Sony PlayStation 5

Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition
PS5

Bridge Constructor:
The Walking Dead
PS5

Warhammer: Chaosbane is, at its core, a solid title. While its release didn’t do much to reinvent the action-role-playing-game genre, its solid mechanics combine with its grim and dark — if familiar — Warhammer backdrop to provide a worthwhile experience of combat, exploration, and adventure. It was already a standout on the Sony PlayStation (PS) 4 and Microsoft Xbox One. Now, it finds a home on the PS5 and Xbox Series X, and, with better hardware to leverage, it goes for the fences with even harder swings and rounds the bases with aplomb.

For starters, Warhammer: Chaosbane runs much, much better on current-generation consoles, taking full advantage of cutting-edge specs to provide a visceral experience of frenetic splendor. Whether hacking through mobs or weaving spells in between timely dodges, gamers are treated to intense eye and ear candy, all thanks to its superior rendition on the PS5. The upgrades might not seem like much in the face of its invariably engrossing gameplay, but its capacity to maintain high graphical fidelity at a crisp, smooth 60 frames per second pays off in spades. It loves to bask in its atmosphere, and it is amply rewarded. From the dark, dank fortifications of Nuln to chaos-infested sewers and far flung winter wastes, its Warhammer origins shine through at its core.

As earlier noted, Warhammer: Chaosbane’s gameplay is topnotch. Gamers get to pick from among a handful of characters — the robust imperial soldier Konrad Vollen, the lithe wood-elf scout Elessa, the illustrious high-elf mage Prince Elontir, and the frenzied slayer Bragi Axebiter — and find their way around and through Chaos’ minions. The characters’ appearances may not be fully customizable, but skill progression and unique traits more than make up for the absence of the feature. All characters play differently, emphasizing different approaches when it comes to doing battle and feeling punchy and satisfying to use — from employing powerful sweeping attacks to using magical spells that bounce off walls. There’s a calm grace to the wood-elf scout’s dodges, especially when combined with her magical arrows, while there’s a more primal feeling in the slayer’s deadly thrusts.  And while these are really mostly set dressing (after all, a typical soldier’s sweep attack fulfills almost the same function as the slayer’s), it’s the strict adherence to the Warhammer setting that enables it to double down on the fun factor.

Make no mistake; Games Workshop has been rather lax with its use of the Warhammer intellectual property, and not all games in the Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 franchises have been good, or even interesting. In developing Warhammer: Chaosbane, however, Eko Software has paid proper respect to the source material, pulling lore characters straight from its rulebooks and crafting stories around their existence. Gamers will meet named characters from the Warhammer fiction, interact with the Warhammer Fantasy’s known heroes, and face off against some of its worst monsters and villains. They’ll travel the Warhammer Fantasy’s world, explore its blasted settings, and find themselves immersed by the stories that unfold. If a game can be judged by atmosphere alone, then Warhammer: Chaosbane cannot but be a classic.

For the avowed fan of the Warhammer franchise who loves hack-and-slash offerings, Warhammer: Chaosbane on the PS5 is a godsend, and a definite must-buy. It’s a smooth, fun experience that promises keen attention to its setting that few other Warhammer games can approximate. For the average action RPG lover, it may prove to be less enticing. Still, it’s a cautious recommendation at worst. It may not be innovative, but it’s certainly entertaining and engaging, and a prime example of how exceptional use of a current-generation platform can do wonders.

THE GOOD:

  • Keen attention to detail in regard to the Warhammer setting
  • Fun action and exploration mechanics, especially when combined with responsive controls and unique characters
  • Appealing amount of content that enriches the Warhammer lore

THE BAD:

  • Nothing new or innovative, with other action RPGs feeling similar to it combat-wise
  • Occasional bugs
  • Solid, but can come off as a run-of-the-mill, repetitive hack-and-slash offering

RATING: 8/10

POSTSCRIPT: It’s refreshing to see the Devil May Cry franchise stand on its own two legs, especially in the face of its humble origins. The first title was released back in 2001, and it was a triumphant, if awkward, combination of action, survival horror, and dark fantasy. Devil May Cry, directly inspired by the writings of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy and the gameplay of the Resident Evil series and Onimusha Warlords, decided to blend these together to create an unsettling, claustrophobic action game that rewarded exploration and aggression. Its resounding success cemented itself as one of Capcom’s strongest intellectual properties. The series has had its hiccups since then, but its greatness was assured in light of its outstanding start.

The franchise’s roller-coaster ride notwithstanding, Devil May Cry 5 proved to be the best of the series by far when it was launched in 2019. Featuring over-the-top storytelling combined with responsive controls and iconic characters, it wound up meeting gamers’ expectations. It offered three distinct characters as vessels for unparalleled demon slaying, and could well have been flawless had it not been hampered by the horsepower limitations of consoles already on their last legs.

Which, for all intents, is why the release of Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition on the PS5 is to be celebrated. It offers a chance for gamers to re-experience it at its finest. With smoother frame rates, better-looking textures, faster load times and all available downloadable content bundled in, it brings the entire franchise to the cutting edge. Simply put, it’s an utter joy to behold.

The narrative remains. In Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition, Hell itself is unleashed into the world as the demon lord Urizen seeks to strengthen himself by using the blood of humans as its fuel. Only by finding and destroying the roots of the tree it uses to harvest blood can Dante, Nero, and the mysterious V hope to stop its progress. And to do that, they have to make full use of what skills and powers they have available to them, and eradicate any and all traces of demonic presence they can find.

This means engaging in the exquisite combat system of Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition. The characters tumble, roll, and dodge their way out of enemy attacks, sending the opposition into the air and jugging them for maximum damage. It might sound just like every other beat-’em-up title, but unlike every other beat-’em-up title, gamers are encouraged to mix and match moves to continually raise the combo meter; rewards come by way of constant alterations in attack patterns and approaches to engagements. Fortunately, the significant differences between each character — from Nero’s Devil Arm and grabs to Dante’s stance changes — encourage experimentation of the environment, unlocked abilities, and special moves while skirting the edges of risk.

Of course, none of this would work if Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition didn’t run better. It still features the same distinctive art style, but everything about it looks and plays better compared to its 2019 base counterpart. Textures have a higher graphical fidelity, the framerate is much smoother, landing a consistent 60 fps even during the tenser moments, and even touts the ability to use ray-tracing to generate graphical consistency. Technical and performance improvements likewise abound, and are especially noticeable during stage transitions and saving/loading instances.

And then there’s, of course, the DLC. Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition comes packed with all previously released additional content; apart from the base game, it boasts of the Bloody Palace update, all the pre-order bonuses, and the Vergil DLC — at no additional cost. It’s a slew of extra content, and turns what is an already-stellar base game into a veritable masterpiece.

Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition does make a few missteps, though they’re not unique to its own circumstance. It may be the definitive edition, but those who already own the previous release may find it hard to double dip given the absence of any new material. And it bears noting that the same flaws that the original suffered from outside of console limitations are more or less still present.

That said, Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition is a worthy addition to any gamer’s library. It highlights its value as a PS5 launch release, and gives gamers, and avid followers of the franchise, a heady look at what is to come.

THE GOOD:

  • Devil May Cry at its finest, running smoothly and crisply
  • Comes packed with all previously released content
  • A somewhat silly but eminently accessible story mode

THE BAD:

  • Hardly any new features
  • Can prove difficult game for newcomers to the genre
  • Sometimes feels a bit floaty depending on the chosen character

RATING: 9.5/10

THE LAST WORD: It’s difficult to imagine media around AMC’s The Walking Dead franchise as being anything but completely serious. All the same, Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead is able to distinguish itself without feeling utterly ridiculous. True, it still has a somewhat serious plot to keep things going, but it’s lamp-shaded by cartoony aesthetics and physics puzzles that border on the absurd. And guess what? It works for the most part. If nothing else, it proves that games from the Walking Dead franchise don’t need stories at the Telltale Games level, or dramatic gunplay, or spine-tingling horror in order to thrive. They just need a bit of passion, some self-awareness, and good game mechanics to keep them going.

In Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead, gamers are asked to do exactly that — build a bridge from one end of the map to the other in order to get people to safety. Featuring interesting physics challenges alongside light strategy elements, it presents a unique way with which to appreciate the franchise. It latches on to a simple, even simplistic, idea, but manages to stay engrossing for a considerable part of its runtime in light of its stellar design and interface. Right from the onset, it compels the formation of bridge foundations en route to creations that are limited only by imagination. The stages get increasingly more challenging, reducing the amount of resources available even as the franchise’s Walkers come into play as barriers to exit. Adaptation is, therefore, critical to success, as is the need to settle into a comfortable rhythm of assessing the challenge at hand, experimenting, failing, and finally, winning.

And that’s all there is to Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead. It doesn’t have an overarching narrative that binds stages together. It’s not out to be profound or send a significant message. Its visuals are sufficient but unimpressive, mostly relying on its clarity and charm to keep gamers immersed, and what little dialogue it offers is spartan in its characterizations. There are no dark plots, no new motivations to show old favorites in a new light. All it wants to do is get gamers to build a bridge that equates survival with connecting the starting point to the finish line.

Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead doesn’t test the PS5’s limits with its workmanlike audio-visual presentation. It doesn’t engage in plentiful amounts of drama or gore, but it gets gamers stuck neck-deep in bite-sized (pun wholly intended) brain teasers. At an accessible price tag of $9.99, it’s a hearty recommend.

THE GOOD:

  • Boasts of enough depth to keep gamers entertained
  • Decent game mechanics
  • Surprisingly affordable given the amount of content it has on offer

THE BAD:

  • Somewhat iffy control schemes
  • Shallow dialogue and simplistic graphics do not look particularly appealing on the PS5
  • Gets somewhat repetitive in the later stages

RATING: 7.5/10



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