The Witch and the Hundred Knight (PlayStation 3) Review

By Az Elias 01.04.2014

Review for The Witch and the Hundred Knight on PlayStation 3

NIS America is on a real roll in terms of bringing the more niche Japanese games to the West in recent times, and 2014 is no different. Already, there has been Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and Ys: Memories of Celceta on PS Vita, and now the dark fantasy action RPG The Witch and the Hundred Knight makes its way over for PlayStation 3.

Better known for the tactical role-playing series Disgaea, Nippon Ichi Software is treading on somewhat new ground with The Witch and the Hundred Knight. This is an action RPG in an isometric top-down viewpoint, with real-time combat, and many open levels to trek through. In some ways, it's evident that NIS lacks a little experience in this type of game, since there are a few gripes with the gameplay, but it is a solid first-time effort.

As the mysterious and legendary Hundred Knight, players do the bidding of the evil Swamp Witch Metallia, going from stage to stage to defeat the boss of each one, and blooming the swamp pillar at the end to spread the green muck over the world, claiming more territory for the witch to call her own. The idea and style is quite reminiscent of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, as a matter of fact - save for the Giga Calories mechanic, which effectively functions as a timer to explore each land, and decreases quicker when exploring unmapped areas, running around, or losing all health. The major difference in this game is that death doesn't mean Game Over; the Hundred Knight will return to the last activated pillar in a stage, and can continue onwards again. It is once the Giga Calories meter depletes fully that he must return to Metallia's home.

Screenshot for The Witch and the Hundred Knight on PlayStation 3

The combat can be rather mundane, as there are a lot of repeated presses of the Square button to hack and slash away at enemies, but it likely won't get the credit it deserves upon first glance. It is easy to see this as a mindless bit of button mashing - and certainly, if played on casual mode, then that is very probably what this will be - but it is highly unlikely anyone will be able to mindlessly bash their way through the game on the regular difficulty unless the proper conventions are put to use.

With up to five able to be equipped at a time, weapons have many attributes, and placing them in specific orders can affect attack power and moves. Combining this customisation of the Hundred Knight with facets, which grant more strength in areas like attack and defence, but suffer in other departments, there is some depth to the combat system that may go overlooked. Trying to mash on everything that moves with the same weapons won't be of much use, without taking the time to play around with them and facets to improve stats. The need to keep accessing the menu to change equipment around can be an irritation, though, and the option to create specific weapon sets for each facet could have helped streamline things.

There are little annoyances in terms of the combat, where the special Tochka abilities can't be activated mid-attack, and require stopping the chain and pausing for a slight second to place one down. The game seems to want the attack chain to keep going, instead of allowing the Tochka to take precedence when called for. This also applies when wanting to consume enemies whose health is low.

Screenshot for The Witch and the Hundred Knight on PlayStation 3

One problem is that the game does not do enough to explain what is possible in The Witch and the Hundred Knight. Tutorials could be better, and it is left up to hints and tips displayed during loading screens to learn some of the more intricate mechanics, and other finer details. With there being so many tips screens, there really needed to be the option to view these in a menu outside of the loading sequences. An example that springs to mind is that it is possible to throw the arrow Tochka, and then hold R1 to lock on to a distant switch or enemy, directing the arrow towards it. This isn't mentioned at all in the game, so much trial and error and time wasting was spent in trying to activate one such switch to open a door.

Camera angles can be a real nuisance at times. X-ray vision is not used when the Hundred Knight ends up underneath trees, or when there are buildings or other objects obscuring the view to see the character, meaning messing around with the camera is far too unnecessary and could have been avoided. The odd bit of lag when equipping weapons can occur, and the loading between entering and exiting stages are additional causes for concern.

As of right now, there is a major bug that NIS America will desperately need to address with a patch. At seemingly any point during the game, it will shut down and load up the PS3 XMB. No warnings, no indications that the game will suddenly quit - nothing. It is entirely possible that not a single shutdown will occur at all, but in the playing of this game for review, it happened once, and caused a loss of a good chunk of unsaved progress that needed to be redone. There are reports of it happening to people multiple times, and it is definitely the case that once a shutdown has been experienced, the rest of the time playing the game is a constant worry. With the bug in mind, nearly every time a pillar is found in a stage, it is used to return to Metallia's house and save the game, but this becomes a huge chore when going through the loading screens to enter and exit stages so often, just to save up and be safe than sorry. Being able to save at pillars could have been a really handy feature, regardless of the bug.

Screenshot for The Witch and the Hundred Knight on PlayStation 3

The gameplay might not be enough to hook everyone in, but the story will be what keeps the urge to see the game through completely very strong. Metallia isn't controlled in any form in the game; she lets Hundred Knight do her bidding for her. It may seem unfortunate that she isn't playable initially, but it is difficult to think how the story could have worked any other way. Metallia being the Swamp Witch, she holds extreme amounts of power, but she is unable to live in places where her swamp doesn't exist, so it is Hundred Knight's job to spread it far and wide.

NIS has really gone down the dark path in storytelling with The Witch and Hundred Knight. Metallia is pure evil, and as such, she commits a lot of heinous acts throughout the story, and is far from royalty when it comes to her everyday speech. If dark humour, strong language and morally wrong behaviour rub the wrong way, then it would be wise to avoid this title, for Metallia does not hold back in the slightest. She is wicked, vile, heartless, and, on a personal note, one of the best female characters in a video game for a long while.

Metallia epitomises everything that an evil witch should be, and it is extremely refreshing that a lead character has such an extreme anti-hero attitude. She is far and wide the best part of The Witch and the Hundred Knight, and quite possibly too good for the game. Other characters are a mixed bunch, with some also providing humour themselves, but a few may grate. Character development and pacing does seem to be part of a larger issue when it comes to the overall story, too. Metallia steals the show, though, and she very much deserves a second go in an improved action RPG from NIS in the future.

Screenshot for The Witch and the Hundred Knight on PlayStation 3

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

As Nippon Ichi Software's attempt to try something different from tactical RPGs and enter the action RPG realm, some gripes with the gameplay of The Witch and the Hundred Knight, such as repetitive exploring to reach destination markers, lack of explanations, unreliable camera angles, and a combat system that could have used some more accessibility, understandably become apparent. The story, and Metallia, in particular, keeps the desire to see the game through fully, but it is unlikely to create any real compulsion to come back to it once all endings have been seen. Provided adult themes and dark humour are liked, The Witch and the Hundred Knight deserves to be played through once, as it is a refreshing plot and cast of characters to experience in a JRPG. NIS made an awesomely dark character in Metallia, so hopefully they will get the right feedback to improve and take more cracks at action RPGs, and give her a chance to wreak havoc again in the future - possibly in a playable role next time.

Developer

Nippon Ichi

Publisher

NIS America

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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