A Legacy of Blood and Guts
PLAY Magazine UK|December 2021
Max Williams looks at Berserk’s influence over the years
Max Williams

Beginning serialisation all the way back in 1989, with over 350 chapters across 40 volumes of manga, Berserk has had a strong influence on dark fantasy for over 30 years, in parallel with the growth of video gaming. Centred on tragic hero Guts’ struggle against demonic forces, it’s become known for its dark themes, creepy monster designs, and how it deals with trauma. Berserk is massively popular in Japan, and its influence can be seen in plenty of games, whether that’s in fantastically oversized swords, ornate yet terrifying armour, or simply a hellish world with nightmarish monsters to vanquish. It’s just one way creators have shown their love for a series close to their hearts. Here are some notable shout-outs to the late Kentaro Miura’s long-running and far-reaching masterpiece.

Meowscular Chef

GAME MONSTER HUNTER: WORLD / FORMAT PS4 / PUB CAPCOM DEV CAPCOM / RELEASED 2018

01 Monster Hunter: World’s canteen seems an unlikely place for an allusion to Berserk to pop up, but a certain forceful Felyne’s design is a clear homage to Berserk’s own Black Swordsman. With a scar through his right eye, his left arm covered up, and a disproportionately large blade on his back, the Meowscular Chef takes some standout points of Guts’ design and makes them downright adorable. Now retired from his days as a Palico, the Meowscular Chef helps out all hunters by providing delicious meals. His skills with his blade are still being put to good use as he chops meat with his trusty sword.

Pyramid Head

GAME SILENT HILL 2 / FORMAT PS3, PS2 / PUB KONAMI / DEV KONAMI RELEASED 2001

02 Geometric noggin aside, one of the standout elements of Pyramid Head’s design is the Great Knife he drags behind him. Silent Hill art director Masahiro Ito has confirmed it was inspired by the Dragon Slayer – the heap of raw iron Guts calls a sword. Pyramid Head’s supernatural strength enables him to wield this weapon with one hand, while poor old human James has to use two, but both are reduced to a slow yet intimidating stagger when carting the thing around. It puts how strong Guts is into perspective!

Artorias The Abysswalker

GAME DARK SOULS / FORMAT PS4, PS3 / PUB BANDAI NAMCO ENTERTAINMENT DEV FROM SOFTWARE / RELEASED 2011

03 FromSoftware’s games are littered with references to Berserk. Strong in both will and swordsmanship, Artorias The Abysswalker is a ferocious boss who gives you a taste of how difficult a time enemies who oppose Guts must have. Like Guts, Artorias lost his left arm, but that doesn’t stop him wielding his greatsword in one hand. Artorias and Guts also share a wolf motif, with Artorias having Sif as a companion and Guts’ Beast Of Darkness having a wolflike form, even influencing the helmet of the Berserker Armour.

Orbs

GAME DEVIL MAY CRY / FORMAT PS4, PS3, PS2 / PUB CAPCOM DEV CAPCOM / RELEASED 2001

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine