Two days ago on May 19 the world of pop culture received terrible news. Kentaro Miura, the legendary creator of the manga Berserk, died at 54 years old on May 6. This not only left the world of anime and manga devastated, but every corner of pop culture.
Berserk is one of the most influential pieces of modern fiction. Its reach is so grand that even works by creators that have never heard of it are still indirectly influenced by it, sometimes by other pieces of media that were inspired by Miura’s magnum opus. Of course, this means that video games are no exception. Today we are going to look at four games that wear their inspiration of Berserk proudly on their sleeves.
One of Capcom’s best and most underrated games in recent memory is Dragon’s Dogma. A hack-and-slash RPG that takes a lot of cues from the Dark Souls series, as well as Berserk. From a story perspective, the game starts out as a fairly standard medieval fantasy, much like the beginning of the Golden Age arc in Berserk. Granted, the game doesn’t go as dark as that arc did by the end of it (if you know, you know). But it did have elements of darkness and more sinister agendas slip in as the story progressed.
In fact, the similarities are so strong that in Japan the two franchises actually had a promotional deal together. Griffith’s White Hawk armor and Guts’ Golden Age armor were both available in-game for players to use. Likewise, the swordsman set in the game is also a direct reference to the armor that Guts wears. Another not so flattering similarity is that both franchises have terrible CG anime adaptations that you should never watch.
It is very easy to see the connection between these two titles. The director of Dragon’s Dogma, Hideaki Itsuno, then went on to helm Devil May Cry 5. Many, myself included, hope that Capcom once again returns to the world of Dragon’s Dogma.
The Final Fantasy series
This one is a little bit of a cheat since it is an entire series and not just one game. But the influence of Berserk can be felt all over the Final Fantasy franchise. But for the sake of time, and my editor’s sanity, we will only talk about two specific entries. The first of those being Final Fantasy VII. While the plots of Berserk and FF VII do share some fleeting similarities, overall they couldn’t be more different. What FF VII takes the most from Berserk may seem silly at first until you think about it in context. That being that the main character wields a giant sword.
While Berserk predates Cloud’s adventures by a good eight years, outside of Japan the concept of such a crazy big sword in media was fairly novel. Now we look at the concept as such a huge cliché, and it is. But back then it was something not really seen outside of Japan, and one could say Berserk helped to define the trope. The second game to mention has a lot more direct connections to Miura’s work, Final Fantasy XIV.
The most obvious example in the game is the Dark Knight class, which is a clear homage to Guts. The game’s director, Naoki Yoshida, went on record after the news of Miura’s passing to say what an influence, directly or indirectly, Miura was on the game. Yoshida said that when he wanted to express a certain kind of mood, he would show members of the development team panels from the manga. This love was clearly also shared by the game’s playerbase as well. As thousands of players donned their Dark Knight gear and held vigils for Miura in multiple servers across the game.
Ok, this one is another cheat because it isn’t a game, but a specific pair of characters. It is very easy to see just by looking at them how both Siegfried and Nightmare take their influence from Guts. Those connections continue into the story of the characters as well. Siegfried is a tragic hero who lost many people close to him that seeks revenge at first, but then penance.
Nightmare is Siegfried’s dark half, clad in armor very reminiscent of Guts’ Berserker armor. Just like how Guts loses control while wearing the armor, Nightmare is Siegfried’s dark side given form. It is almost as if Griffith and Guts were the same person, but then split in half between good and evil. Even in their gameplay, the way both characters swing their giant swords around is very similar to how Guts has looked in various animated adaptations.
Being a weapon-based fighting game, it is only appropriate that Soul Calibur has a direct reference to one of the most famous swords in fiction. Or as Miura himself put it: “That thing was too big to be called a sword. Too big, too thick, too heavy, and too rough, it was more like a large hunk of iron.”