For years, fans have been looking forward to more Battle Chasers stories. Last year, we got our first look at Aiship Syndicate's role-playing game version of the Joe Madureira comic, Battle Chasers: Nightwar. At that time, there was little to do but wander a randomly generated dungeon and complete a few small battles. Twelve months later, Nightwar still has that same delicious style and core battle mechanics, but Airship's been hard at work building on that template to craft a robust and deep RPG that will more than satisfy fans from both worlds.

Obviously most of Battle Chasers: Nightwar's early allure came from the game being the first new Battle Chasers content created by Joe Madureira in a long time. But having Joe Mad design the world and characters only gets you so far, and the game has to be more than its concept to thrive. Fortunately, that early demo last year built Nightwar a lot of credibility in the RPG department. The active time battle system is still in tact in the latest version of Nightwar, as are the Burst abilities that give characters some truly over-the-top attacks (or defensive buffs). Where Nightwar has adjusted its tactics in battle is in the small details, like getting new animations for these powerful spells, and adding in all manner of status effects.

Airship Syndicate

What's more, every aspect of the game looks even better than before. Nightwar didn't look bad in the earliest iterations a year ago, but all that additional development time has given the team opportunities to improve upon the arenas, dungeons, character models and animations throughout the game. There's also the matter of the actual world map, which has a distinct look recalling hand-drawn maps typical of fantasy realms. It's a clever change of pace from the Madureira-inspired look the remainder of Nightwar has, and gives players more variation in the immersion. The map is also a handy way to spot potential enemy encounters and dungeons, as each dot on the map has the potential to lead to a new challenge. It also lets you plan around enemies if you're not up for a battle and need to find a place to rest instead.

Dungeon exploration itself has also gotten a few tweaks, including giving players more reason to be tactical when wandering through a given collection of rooms. Each character already had certain exploratory skills that gave each of them a benefit to being the party leader, but now there's a bit more to each dungeon than just using one character to evade traps and another to smash doors. Using teamwork is tantamount to slipping through without any extra nonsense affecting your party, which also makes your three-character grouping that much more important to get right.

Airship Syndicate

Elsewhere, the world at large has some new additions, including NPCs to chat with in towns. We didn't get to see all of the various characters, but we did encounter the wild game warden. In Nightwar, you bestiary will fill up based on how often you encounter and defeat enemies. You'll start out not knowing much about threats in the world, but the types of statuses, damages, and weaknesses every monster has will fill your book the more you fight. The game warden can also help fill out your bestiary, and point you in the direction of rare monster spawns if you're up for the challenge. Like many Japanese role-playing games, Battle Chasers will also have a fishing mini-game because you can't rightfully call yourself a JRPG these days without one.

A lot of changes have been made to Battle Chasers: Nightwar in the year since we last tried it out, and it's all been for the better. Airship Syndicate has been tuning up its comic book-inspired Japanese role-playing game, and has added a number of interesting improvements to make Nightwar a more complete experience. The battles and dungeon exploration still have that same charm, but now there's a lot more to do beyond wander around and fight. Battle Chasers: Nightwar is shaping up to be one of the year's best RPGs, and all it has to do now is deliver on the promise of its recent build.

Battle Chasers: Nightwar will be available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch on October 3.