Sword of the Berserk: Guts’ Rage is one of the first 3D hack & slash games, launched exclusively for the Dreamcast. The game is based on the popular manga and anime series Berserk, written by Kentaro Miura. The game was developed by Yuke’s Co. Ltd and published in Japan by ASCII Corporation and in the rest of the world by Eidos Interactive. The game was released in Japan on December 16, 1999, in the United States on February 29, 2000, and in Europe on May 19, 2001.
The story of the game is original and it is not an adaptation of any manga arc. It opens up with a cutscene depicting a group of traveling performers getting ambushed by bandits. After some brief dialogue the eponymous hero of the game, Guts, shows up and takes care of the bandits. Afterward, the layer is introduced to Guts, his lover Casca, his sidekick Puck and the traveling performer Rita. Guts and his company decided to head to the next town, once there they learn about a plant called the Mandragora which when attached to someone, turns its hosts into zombie-like creatures. There they meet the ruler of the town and kingdom, Baron Balzac.
Baron Balzac tells them that he believes he has found a cure for the Mandragoran plague. He tells of a great tree and its heart which is the proposed cure. To save Casca, Gus agrees to travel to the tree and cut out its heart.
Guts: Guts is one of only two people to survive the solar eclipse massacre at the mercy of the God Hand’s minions. He now wanders the world seeking revenge against them, armed with the mighty Dragon Slayer sword.
Guts was branded with a mark as he fled the God Hand’s massacre. The brand serves as a tracking device for the God Hand, but it also forewarns of danger and imparts Guts’ Berserk rage. It will change and bleed as God Hand draws nearer or when the minions perform a human sacrifice.
Casca: Once, Casca was the feared leader of the Hawks. But the God Hand’s massacre left her so severely traumatized that it drove her to madness. Her total recovery is in doubt. Only Guts’ love may save her.
Puck: Puck is Guts’ diminutive fairy partner. By nature cheerful and easily elated, Puck is a valuable elfin friend.
Rita: Rita is a traveling performer, perhaps of gypsy descent. An adept knife handler, she learned this talent as part of her performance. This fascinating street artist is a strong-willed ally.
Baron Balzac: Baron Balzac is the tyrannical ruler of the Kingdom infested by Mandragora’s minions. He is wise and strong, but his motives are clouded.
Sword of the Berserk was fairly experimental and new at the time. It plays like and primitive version of other third-person action games that came after. The player controls Guts and goes around killing enemies to progress through linear levels, the combat is composed of basic combos mixed up through a horizontal attack and vertical attack. Besides his sword, Guts also uses throwing knives, a hand cannon, grenades and a hand-held crossbow. These secondary weapons are powerful but use limited ammunition; except the throwing knives and hand-held crossbow. These weapons are utilized in a format similar to the quick menu system used in Phantasy Star Online: press the trigger and you’ll have access to these secondary weapons.
Guts have a health bar as well as a meter that builds up with every successful hit and when full, Guts enters Berserk mode in which his attacks are stronger, he moves faster and is temporarily invulnerable. In Berserk mode, Guts also has the ability to swing his sword through walls. This is a major advantage in cramped setting as Guts' sword is eight feet long making fighting in hallways and corridors very hard. Throughout the game, you will have to perform quick-time events, from jumping over a falling bridge to dodging falling rubble.
There are save points in the game but there are very few, about five throughout the game. You also have a limited number of lives that differ between difficulty levels: seven for easy, ten for normal and thirteen for the hard.