I have been looking forward to The Witch and the Hundred Knight for a while now. Seriously, over a year. I really wanted to see what NIS could do with an Action-RPG. I can safely saw I was impressed, but a tad disappointed at the same time. There is quite a bit wrong with Witch and the Hundred Knight, but also a lot of things done right. It goes without saying that a game like this is still very niche and the dudebro gamers will not find this game appealing at all.
Metallia has 100 days to live and she wants to conquer the whole world with her new minion, The Hundred Knight. She is a very powerful Swamp Witch but her weakness is that she is not allowed to step foot anywhere that has not been touched by swamp. She uses the Hundred Knight to do her bidding and spread the swampy atmosphere. She is obviously met by opposition by other witches that do not wish for her to gain her full power. It is up to the Hundred Knight to defeat the witches and ensure Metallia gets what she needs done before she meets a grim end.
The story is upbeat, but at the same time, pretty grim. The characters you meet along the way are cruel, misguided, and often murderous. Metallia is no peach either, she is by no means a hero. The dark overtones seep through more when Metallia's past and upcoming death are discussed and it seems like an unusual path for NIS to take. The game tends to lighten up every so often with jokes and rather humorous banter between Metallia and her monster butler. While the dialogue can be groan worthy or even drag on a bit too long, it is still a nicely put together story.
While the tutorial is longer than it should be, it does teach you how to play the game well. While it is not a major downside, the start of the game is rather slow. It gets better as you get more powerful weapons and skills to use.
The combat consists of combos perpetrated by the five weapons you will have equipped. It is suggested that you use one of every weapon type to add variety and more devastating combos. Each weapon does something different depending on what place it in placed in. In addition, each weapon has a symbol of 1 though 5. When placed in order, weapons gain a chain bonus that increases the damage output. Finding these weapons that are both powerful, but also have the right symbol can be a chore.
Weapons also have a proficiency bar that when maxed out will next a significant boost. Depending on the rarity of that weapon the amount you can increase it is increased. If you are lucky enough to find a legendary weapon, you can increase it 100 levels for a massive damage bonus. This is done by defeating enemies with that particular weapon. Once the weapon is maxed out, that is all you can do with it. Sometimes finding a weapon that would be stronger than the ones you are using requires some math because a weapon that is Rare with a high base stat could turn out to be weaker than an Epic weapon with an average base damage stat.
The game progresses through levels and during these levels you will unlock pillars that act as a mini-base as well as spawn points for the Hundred Knight. As you destroy more enemies and dig up items you gain grade points. These can be traded for a variety of things. They include temporary stat boosts, G.Cals, and Bonus Points. Every level has a bonus list and the higher you are on the list, the better the items you get. The more you visit a level, the worse the rewards. G.Cals are a limitation of the Hundred Knight. It was lit on the Knight's head as a precautionary measure for Metallia so he would not run away. When the G.Cals reach zero, the Knight becomes defenseless and very easy to kill. These can be refilled by returning to your main base of operations. At the same time the experience you gain from that level is calculated and added to the Hundred Knight and any items in your stomach are added to your main inventory.
While the mechanics are certainly there for Witch and the Hundred Knight, the game suffers heavily from slow pacing and random difficulty spikes that don't seem to fit well. This is mainly the issue with regular levels. I have found that most enemies later in the game that are standard and abundant have more potential to end your life than the bosses of said levels. There are also some aspects of the game that are not well explained or are even mentioned. These include Karma and Enemy Behavior. I never really found a purpose to either of these things and they just seem to take up unneeded space.
The Hundred Knight can change its form and become something with different stats. The pace at which you get these is very unbalanced and to be honest, it feels unfinished. While the weaknesses of these Facets are very obvious, the new benefits they claim to offer feel hidden.
Witch and the Hundred has a lot to offer but this is by far one of the more simple games from NIS. This is not a bad thing, but it seems like the game still needed some final tweaking to bring all the elements of the game together. It is still fun and offers a healthy amount of playtime and challenge. I give Witch and the Hundred Knight a 6.5/10. This game is certainly an enjoyable one, if you are willing to be patient with it. You can pick it up only on the PS3.