The Witch and the Hundred Knight is a game in a sub-genre that’s relatively new for developers Nippon Ichi Soft. More commonly known for hardcore strategy RPG games like Disgaea and Phanton Brave, The Witch and the Hundred Knight aims to incorporate NIS’ expansive strategy system with hack and slash awesomeness. The result is an Action RPG that is innovative but frustrating at the same time.
Plot of The Witch and the Hundred Knight stars swamp witch Metallia (no, not Metallica) and her summoned demon confusingly named Hundred Knight. I initially expected there to be hundred actual Knights but boy was I wrong, next time I’ll remember to read the titles more closely. Metallia and Hundred Knight are both “evil” as they want to cover the whole world in a swamp. This type of characterization is very common in NIS games, the recently released Disgaea: D2 for example stars Laharl who’s an Overlord living in the Netherworld. Unlike Disgaea’s cast however Metallia is a very one sided character; annoying and plain unlikable with no redeeming value. The Hundred Knight is a mute character with a personality you mold with the game’s “Self Assertion” system which I’ll get into detail later in the review.
That’s enough hating on Metallia even though she’s a terrible character. Now the second title character is Hundred Knight, a powerful demon summoned by Metallia. The Hundred Knight might be small in size but he is able to wield huge weapons easily, perform magic and more. Hundred Knight’s true power is sealed away, and as players progress in the game they gain new abilities and weapons to take on more powerful enemies. Even though Metallia is the one who summoned Hundred Knight he does not always listen to what she says. The game has a “Self Assertion” system where the Hundred Knight can choose to Question, Agree, Disagree and even Ignore Metallia’s commands. Each of these choices will lead to different scenarios which tends to keep the game fresh.
Like Disgaea, The Witch and the Hundred Knight has a complex equipment system with various types of weapons and armor available for the Hundred Knight to equip. Unfortunately due to the hack and slash battle system, battles don’t require a lot of strategy and get repetitive quite quickly. Throughout most of the game I was just lazily hacking my way through stages and occasionally trying out the new abilities Hundred Knight would learn. You can use the various abilities in creative ways, but I noticed they take more time to perform and its quicker to simply attack, kill the foe and be done with it. The abilities are quite interesting like summoning minions which would help Hundred Knight kill foes and some players would really enjoy them.
The game’s drawn art is the game’s highlight while the actual gameplay graphics disappointed me. Choosing a 3D art style over the sprite based art of prior NIS games, the game has a very generic look to it. The sprite based art of previous NIS games looked great and unique, making games enjoyable to play for hours on these several year old consoles. The drawn art is shown off during cutscenes. One complain I have about the cutscenes are that most of them are very long, some of them are onward of 15 minutes which had me lose my interest on more than one occasion. The Soundtrack on the other hand is pretty good and well composed. The tracks accurately fill the mood of the scene, while the battle music does well to pump up players. Players also have an option to choose Japanese voiceovers with English subtitles, which I greatly preferred.
The Gameplay consists of Hundred Knight exploring stages looking for Pillars. The Pillars are essential for expanding the swamp, which is the main goal of the game. Small Pillars are more common and can be used as warp points, while a single big Pillar shows up at the end of the stage. The level design is a hit or miss. Not only is the top down game design atrocious for exploring but most of the stages are generic and boring. I was mostly hacking and slashing my way through to get through with the exploration.
One mechanic that I really found annoying in the game was “GigaCal meter”. The meter is basically a timer, which depletes as you spend time away from Metallia doing tasks like exploring. When the timer runs out you’re forced to return back to the swamp and have Metallia recharge you meter. The meter has no other function other than this and you can always recharge it anytime by teleporting back to the swamp, then going on with your exploration. The mechanic seems forced and not very well thought out.
After finishing The Witch and the Hundred Knight, I was getting mixed vibes. The game is an interesting combo of hack and slash and strategy but it doesn’t manage to excel at either. You may enjoy it if you enjoyed Knack or like the polygon-ish art style. The gameplay is kind of bland but if you don’t mind the long custcenes and strategy features, then this might be worth a rental, or even purchase when it gets a price cut. NIS’ experiment is interesting to say the least, but I don’t think many players will enjoy it.
The Witch and the Hundred Knight Review