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The Witch and the Hundred Knight Review - 99 Problems but a Witch Ain't One

Justin Clouse | 26 Mar 2014 12:30
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Every building, including item shops, that you come across can be entered normally or you additionally have the option to raid it. Buildings will have their own defensive value, and a little cartoon-esque scene of the house bouncing around will ensue when you do attempt a raid. Upon success you'll receive a treasure, and returning to the building with grant additional items or boosts. Failing a raid will deduct a big chunk of your HP and Gcals though. This whole system might have been interesting if it didn't feel like a chore to raid a whole village, since each raid takes about 1/2 minute to a minute of just watching the screen. I quickly went from raiding everything, to only hitting for only items I cared about and finally to not at all just to avoid the tedium.

But wait there is more! Attacking non-enemy NPCs and raiding buildings will accumulate karma, eventually making everything more hostile towards you. You can decrease your karma with Anima. What's Anima? Anima is a rare drop off of enemies, and it's used for everything from the aforementioned decrease in karma to upgrading your weapons. Said weapons can be arranged in sequence chains as you equip five weapons simultaneously in a row, and putting them in a proper sequence will give you bonus damage. Every weapon also has a damage type of slash, blunt or magic, and enemies will be weak or resistant to a mixture of them. Hundred Knight also has facets that you can switch on the fly that give various skills and weapon bonuses. You'll also unlock Tochka, which are little allies that can be summoned...

And you get the idea. There's nothing wrong with a game being complex. I personally rather enjoy games with deep mechanics, but eventually you're just throwing increasingly more noise into the experience for little to no gain. It doesn't help matters that while The Witch and The Hundred Knight starts out with one of the most hilariously hand-holding tutorial sequences, it doesn't do a great job of reminding you what a lot of these functions and features are down the line.

The game otherwise plays well for the most part. The combat feels tight and responsive, but with so many things going on the screen is often a visual mess of numbers, bars and icons. The controls are certainly stressing the limits of the PS3 controller, and you'll probably accidentally use some power when trying to react in the field since some controls require holding a shoulder and face button. Which can be particularly annoyingly when you meant to change a facet and instead engage a mode that increases your power while draining your Gcals faster.

Perhaps a lot of this could be forgiven if the story was great, but The Witch and The Hundred Knight fails to capture interest and at times dips into some uncomfortably troubling areas. You are Hundred Knight, a legendary demon summoned by the Swamp Witch Metalia to further her own goals. While you're playing as Hundred Knight and occasionally get to make some responses, you're otherwise a silent protagonist and Metalia is really the main focus of the story. Metalia is violent, foul mouthed and ill-tempered - you're certainly not working for the "good guy" here - and you're assisting her in spreading her swamp and killing everyone that gets in the way of that. On some level this is fun to watch, being cast as the minion to the villain is at least not not commonly tread.

That's not where the game can get uncomfortable though. If it was just some of the cheesecake character designs it wouldn't be that bad, Metalia for instance basically wears just a halter top and bike shorts and her default pose in conversations has her leaning over with cleavage front and center. It's some of the other moments where the game crosses the line. It attempts to make light some of sexual situations, which it doesn't always land firmly enough on the humorous side of the fence on. There's even these succubus-esque monsters in skirts whose death pose it to lay out spread eagle. It's just not doing the game any favors.

Bottom line: If any one element of The Witch and The Hundred Knight had been truly great, you could look over some of its warts, but without any strong focus its just a bog standard action RPG that's artificially attempted to be made interesting with tons of superfluous gameplay mechanics tacked on.

Recommendation: Unless you are the most ardent NIS fan, you can give this a pass.

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