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Review: The Witch Hundred Knight

The Witch and the Hundred Knights (PS3)
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: Nippon Ichi Software
Release Date: March 25, 2014

Nippon Ichi Software is a hell of a developer. One day they could set the world on fire with one of the most famous games in a genre ( Disgaea ), and the next they could be milked with a franchise in oblivion (Disgaea Infinite ). Strategy RPGs are their forte, but they have made 2D platforms, action RPGs and more.

The Witch and the Hundred Knights are their latest, and it’s basically a compilation of everything they’ve learned so far – which is both good and bad.

Witch may have one of the most confusing titles in the newer memory, but when you break it down, it’s not that bad. The game plays the Witch Metallia ‘(Metallica’ in Japan) as she tries to wreak havoc on the world by summoning ‘Hundred Knight’ as you are) – one of the most powerful families of all time. The problem is that this ‘legendary’ creature begins as nothing more than a cute little helmet with arms and legs, leading to an interesting dichotomy between Hundreds adorable nature and Metallia’s fiery curse.

Metallia is even one of the most absurd ‘main characters’ NIS has created to date, as you do not really have to find her sympathetic. In fact, she is more than downright evil, as she often attacks her victims in ways that some may find disturbing (serious). It’s a really weird composition of NIS’s typical stall with evil characters (especially Disgaea ), which is usually more talk than action, with most of the evil done off-screen or simply described in an extended monologue.

Nevertheless, you will have to live as Metallia’s servant, and serving her every time from there time and time again is basically how the story plays out throughout the adventure. She has lived in the swamp all her life and since she is too lazy and stubborn to leave it, you will have to make her bid and then report periodically with your finds and stolen goods. So it’s your job to quell, kill, destroy and ransack as many villages as possible – fun! In theory at least.

Most of the action will be performed with direct hack-and-slash style – no turn-based cycles here. The Hundred Knight can move around, like an adventurer in a diablo game, from top to bottom and all. Our hero has the ability to attack and defend, but the former discipline quickly becomes a complicated affair with combination weapons, counter-strategies and the diversity of the enemy. It is an interesting design that transcends the typical genre conventions.

For example, hammers are perfect for single meetings, and spears are great for crowd control – so combining the two in a combo box that leads with a spear and mixes into a hammer can be a great way to thin out a few rows. Add hundreds of nuanced weapons, multiple attack types, and a cavalcade of items to buy, and you’re in menu-scrolling skies.

Then there is the GigaCal meter, which puts a cap on how long you can stay out in nature by linking your actions to a timer. It makes sense that you are constantly worried about how far you can go and thus have to play carefully, but in the end it just causes unnecessary frustration and ruins the pace significantly. There are ways around it like using certain items or capturing enemies, but it’s mostly just trying the inevitable.

There really is not much to do Witch and Hundred Knights , as you are basically going to do the same pattern over and over again, and fight privates as you run against the boss, followed by a long cut scene.

While it’s always interesting to see what happens next, the fact is that the scenes themselves often go too long (sometimes 20 minutes or more), causing you to scroll the forward button on more than one occasion. It’s weird how uneven action part of this action RPG can really feel, and some pairing of cutcenes would have been a great place to start.

Fighting is also quite repetitive when you break it down. While macro-level equipment felling of typical NIS RPGs is here in all their glory, the knight is limited in what he can actually do and it leads to a lot of boring moments. Hacking enemies is fun enough, but it’s not often that you face something worthy of your abilities outside of the few and far between boss characters.

If you enjoy crazy stories that constantly top themselves and deep action-RPG conventions that others find frustrating, you will enjoy The Witch and Hundred Knights. But with many small adjustments, it could really have been a good entry into a world of complicated isometric titles.

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