Nippon Ichi has crafted a niche with their games however it doesn’t mean they aren’t as successful. They recently had some success with the release of Disgaea 5 on the Nintendo Switch, and it remains their most popular IP so far. The Witch and the Hundred Knight is an odd IP that was initially launched on the PS3 but with a moderate level of success. It was then later remastered for the PS4 before the announcement of a sequel, which always felt like an odd decision since the games were never a breakout hit.
The sequel to The Witch and the Hundred Knight is out now and as expected, it is basically more of the same. The characters are different and the gameplay has been improved to some extent but the core of the gameplay loop is identical. The sequel sees the introduction to a new Witch along with her own Hundred Knight. The story this time centers on Amalie and her little sister Milm. It begins with Amalie looking for her missing sister who manages to return to home but gets cursed with a ‘third eye.’
The game opens up one year later after the initial prologue when Milm has to undergo a surgery in order to remove her third eye. The surgery doesn’t go as planned leading to awakening of the Witch Chelka. The game seems to follow the same quirky way of storytelling with its witty dialogue and visual novel style cutscenes. Character portraits are represented on screen with text advancing the conversation between them. There is a lot of fan service to be seen here so those who are into this sort of content can enjoy the story presented here.
The Witch and the Hundred Knight is basically a top-down dungeon crawler with an isometric camera. The main combat is purely action based as you control the Hundred Knight, who can also change into a variety of different forms. He is able to perform several special attacks and use skills that can help in clearing out a large crowd of enemies. The level up system lets your learn new skills with the experience points that you gain after killing enemies. The game also features an item and weapon crafting system that relies on the loot that you will collect from enemies, or find through treasure chests during exploration.
The loot system in the game relies on a unique mechanic by implementing it in the form of a stomach system for the Hundred Knight. You will be able to carry any item that you pick during exploration in the stomach stock of the Hundred Knight and if he dies, you will lose a random amount of them. In theory this can work similar to other games but the risk factor here is a lot lower since once you reach a save point, it is possible to transport back to the main hub and hence mitigate any potential loss.
Combat is actually fairly interesting with the ability to equip multiple types of weapons. The game has around 5 types of weapon that you can equip on the Hundred Knight: Sword, Spear, Lance, Hammer and Staff. The game gives you the ability to customize your attack chain so you can mix and match the different weapon attacks. It is interesting in theory and combined with the skills, it makes the combat a lot more dynamic than simple button mashing that can be a problem with most action RPGs. Putting a well thought weapon combo can help you deal more damage to enemies, and even then, some of them will be weak to a certain type of weapon so you will need to keep this in mind as well.
The thing that makes this sequel a step back is the exploration. While the combat is better now and feels more fine-tuned for group encounters, the level design is a step back especially if you hate the procedural generated design that is commonly used in many of the current dungeon crawlers. This leads to a lot of repetition and boring level design where you encounter the same area again. It might be good for those who are used to it, but in my case, I rarely like a game with such system in place. I do think that if implemented correctly, it can also increase the replay value of a game.
One of the new change that is immediately noticeable from the start is the performance of the game that now runs at 60 FPS. This is an improvement over the original PS3 release and something that was introduced with the remaster on the PS4. The game is also surprisingly good in the support for the PS4 Pro offering three different distinct performance modes: Graphics, Performance or both. Depending on your tolerance with the frame rate and visuals, there are more than enough options here.
The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2 Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2 is an action role-playing video game developed and published by Nippon Ichi Software for the PlayStation 4.
The combat is fun and encourages the player to experiment with the mechanics but it is held back by a disappointing story and repetitive exploration. As a sequel, the game feels like an improvement overall but still suffers from noticeable flaws.