As a lifelong RPG fan, I must confess I prefer action RPGs over their turn-based counterparts. While Shining Force was one of my favorite Sega Genesis games, 20 years later, I feel like I need a little more engagement to get me through an entire game. I literally need a barrel of coffee at hand to get through more than a few hours of a typical linear turn-based RPG with long cutscenes. That’s not to say there aren’t a few that I enjoy, but honestly, after 30 years of gaming, there isn’t much I haven’t seen. With that in mind, I’ve been eagerly anticipating NIS America’s hack and slash, dungeon crawler, The Witch and the Hundred Knight.
The Witch and the Hundred Knight is nothing like NIS America’s Disgaeas, and Atelier games. You could say the writing was on the wall with Mugen Souls, but The Witch and the Hundred Knight is much more adult. The witch herself, has the mouth of Trevor from Grand Theft Auto V and a similar sense of morality too. All of that venom in the body of what appears to be a scantily clad teenage girl with a big hat. If none of that sounds appealing to you, you should probably look elsewhere for your entertainment.
Though the basic mechanics are similar to Diablo III, NIS has added a lot of wrinkles to the hack and slash formula in The Witch and the Hundred Knight. You could argue there was too much thrown into the game. The aesthetics are of course the first difference anyone will notice. The colorful anime art style, borrows a lot from their flagship franchise Disgaea, along with the whole “evil” side perspective. Though the camera is adjustable, those vivid backgrounds are likely to get in your way on more than one occasion. The music is surprisingly good, but the dialogue and voicework is hit or miss.
There are literally too many gameplay mechanics to list in this review and while the game does introduce a few of them in the beginning, there are many more that are either poor explained or not mentioned at all. Luckily there are hints during the load screen, but they are actually more clues than useful information unto themselves. One example of this is the weapon system. The knight can simultaneously equip five weapons, but the game never exactly tells you that. It does mention that if you equip all of them in a certain order, that there is a combat bonus.
I made an allusion to Grand Theft Auto V earlier and plot-wise there are even more similarities. Yes, I know, this game is about witches, magic, and demons, but the basic premise is that you’re doing the dirty work for some pretty terrible characters. Seriously, Metallia is homicidal psychopath and empathizing with her P.O.V. may say more about you than you might think. It is your job in The Witch and the Hundred Knight to expand her reach, murder and maim her enemies, and then watch her dole out particularly evil punishments to those she feels “really deserve it.” Imagine being the personal enforcer for Joffrey from Game of Thrones.
A lot of NIS games can make many western gamers feel a little icky, this is doubly true with The Witch and the Hundred Knight. That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with the game. The Witch and the Hundred Knight offers a uniquely different sort of narrative for the genre and while some of the combat wrinkles seem unnecessary, the pillars and GigaCals require implementing some modicum of strategy in the hackfest. Overall, there is probably not much in here that will be memorable, besides Metallia’s strings of profanities and the extreme punishment she doles out, but a few of you will get the joke and have some fun slogging through this lengthy game.
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