Roguelike Roulette [Spin 1, Slot 4a]: Berserk!


Title screen of Berserk! with the title rendered in large, ascii art. Credit to Kentaro Miura for the setting, thanks given to Turgor, Glowie, Jorge, Thomas, Malek, Fingerzam

Berserk! is the creation of Kornel Kisielewicz, probably most famous for DoomRL. It began as a 7DRL (7 day roguelike) and saw a couple of further releases before being effectively - or at least visibly - abandoned.

The game is based on the manga Berserk by Kentaro Miura, something I've been a fan of. The player character's capabilities are based on those of the protagonist Guts, who has been branded for sacrifice and consequently attracts demons each night. Of the two existing game modes, neither victory conditions nor saving are implemented, and thus the goal is endurance or score.

Mode select screen for Berserk! Players can choose Endless or Massacre

Let's try Endless mode first. After incareful contemplation, the name which emerges is Alice. And since I have no familiar with this game, I will allocate stats in descending order.

Stat point allocation screen. Points can be allocated to Strength, Dexterity, Endurance, Willpower. Default value for each stat is 10.

Final stat allocation, Strength 12, Dexterity 12, Endurance 11, Willpower 11

Finally(?), allocating a skill to upgrade. With the stats selected previously, the only skills available are Ironman (increased hit points), or Sweep attack (attack three adjacent enemies at once). Sweep attack it is.

Skill select screen, details showing for Sweep Attack, which can be used to make a less effective attack against 3 adjacent enemies instead of the usual attack against 1

Immediately, the night begins. No enemies in sight, though they must be out there somewhere. Aimless wandering is called for.

Alice stands in a field. To the north and the south at the edge of her vision the walls of buildings are visible

The first creature spotted is recognised only as a beast. It dies with encouraging ease.

Alice stands in a single-room building, with doors to the north and the south. The south doorway is occupied by a beast

The same building as before, but not the doorway is spattered with blood; the beast's corpse lies just outside

Doors do not appear to be closable. No way to use them as barricades.

A second beast also died quickly, safely, but soon there are three in sight at once. Rapid escalation.

Alice stands in an open space in the middle of town, one beast to the south is nearly upon her while two more approach from the north, one from within a building, the other through a path between buildings

Manoeuvring to fight them one at a time gets two more beasts killed without laying a claw on Alice. But by the time this is achieved there are still three in sight. Also a new creature, immediately a cause for worry until inspection reveals it as just one of the townsfolk.

Alice still in the town square, another beast at her side while a second comes from the south and a third from the east, the third beast seeming to ignore the townsperson behind it

Where two beasts had been encroaching on Alice in the town square now lie two corpses, but two more beasts approach from the east

With another pair of beasts approaching, Alice decides to wait for them to come to her. One does and dies upon her blade. The other has wandered out of sight, perhaps circling round the nearby wall. She waits five breaths for it not to appear. When it does not, she perhaps unwisely heads north.

A sudden nervousness prompts her to veer west. Three townsfolk are wandering from that direction and, not wanting to endanger them, she heads back to where she had been.

A pair of beasts were approaching from the east. Alice arranged, just barely, for them to reach her singly and so be slain but now a new creature, a bulldemon is approaching.

A bulldemon is near to Alice from the north. Meanwhile a beast is approaching from the west and another from further north

It's faster than the beasts, covering distance in one moment that would take them two. It evades her sword too, and with three beasts closing visibly closing in on her, Alice is growing worried.

Alice is locked in combat with the bulldemon. Meanwhile two beasts approach from the west and a third is coming from the north

After a worryingly long exchange the bulldemon is slain, herself unhurt but now with four beasts nearly upon her.

Alice stands over the body of the slain bulldemon, but she is already under attack by another beast. Three more are closing in from the near west

To her relief she manages to prevail again. Another four beasts down and herself still unharmed. The night is perhaps a third over.

She wanders east until she spots another bulldemon. Wanting to avoid it yet, she returns west again, slaying another beast and taking refuge in a doorway. Perhaps having its angle of approach covered will give her some advantage.

It seems to work. On the other bulldemon she didn't see approaching from the west too. All clear? Nope, now there's a pair of imps, one to either side of her. Not wanting to find out what they do in the open she ducks back into her doorway.

Alice stands just outside the open doorway of a small building in town. Ahead and just around the corner is an imp, while another is not far behind her

A ranged attack of some sort. But they die as easy as beasts. Maybe easier.

Another pair of beasts. Alice is getting hurt more easily now. Down to 93/105 and in some pain, but into the final third of the night.

The monsters are swarming now, just as Alice realises she overestimated how much of the night she had survived. In her panicked attempt to not be surrounded she had missed the approach of a mandagore from the south.

Alice is getting swarmed in the town square. Six monsters coming from the north, including a bulldemon and a beast in combat range. From the south a mandagore approaches, coloured red and nearly blending in with the corpses of the monsters Alice has slain.

They nearly trap her in the room she has been using as her lurking spot. Half dead, she must run desperately to escape.

Two beasts attacking Alice in the ruins of a building. Behind them three more beasts and a mandagore jostle for position

At what had been the door Alice makes what she expects to be her last stand, hoping to take the mandagore with her. As her death approaches, she is filled with rage and a new energy, going berserk. In her fury she destroys every monster in sight.

The world is coloured red to reflect Alice's berserk state. In a ruined building she is in melee range of three beasts and a mandagore; another beast and a bulldemon are still approaching

Alice, still berserk and seeing red, is surrounded by destroyed buildings and monster corpses

Her rage does not subside. She storms around the area finding new monsters to slay, and there are many. Finally another mandagore and bulldemon bring her truly to the verge of death. Rather than let her life end her she uses half her supply of fairydust to heal.

Still berserk, Alice is on the verge of death fighting a mandagore and a bulldemon

The mandagore goes down to her next strike. She is still fighting the bulldemon when a chill runs through her, bringing the knowledge the great demon Hee has appeared in the town.

Alice, fighting a bulldemon on the field of corpses that was the town square, is struck suddenly by the awareness the demon Hee has appeared on the battlefield.

Hee is accompanied by a pair of beasts and a phasehound. A new creature and therefore worrying.

Alice, at the east border of town, spots Hee pursuing from the west, escorted by a phasehound and two beasts.

Alice tries to run around them for advantage but they are too much faster for this to work. Instead when the opportunity presents itself she fires her cannon, mortally wounding Hee.

Alice has fired her cannon at Hee and escort, leaving Hee barely alive and only a beast and a phasehound of the variously composed escort still standing.

Once Hee is dead the phasehound is quick to kill. After that a lone beast is the last of the night, easy to end, and Alice can breathe easy for a while longer.

At last only bodies and broken buildings remain in town with Alice. She is safe and alone.