Game: The Witch and The Hundred Knight Revival Edition
Developers: Nippon Ichi Software
Publishers: NIS America Inc
Genre: Action role-playing
This review was completed with a review copy from the publishers
The Witch and the Hundred Knight is a somewhat shallow attempt to couple the well known “cutesy” Disgaea art style with some darker themes in the pursuit of humor. It’s quite hit and miss, and the overall gameplay while striving for depth, seems just to fall short of its goal. The gameplay is competent enough, and the quality is quite high, but it just makes for one fairly cliche action-role-playing title. It’s a shame as the game isn’t bad, it just doesn’t seem to do anything particularly well, over and above the status quo. It has some interesting ideas; that lack in the execution stage. The story is fun, and may keep you engaged, but that’s all it has going for it.
The game starts off innocently enough. A lonely swamp Witch decides she wants to step out of her swamp and see more of the world. The only problem? She is unable to leave the swamp, so she formulates an ingenious plan to enlarge her swamp, spreading its influence and allowing her to travel. She feels she can’t do this alone and has a finite amount of time to achieve her goal, so she summons a demon; a familiar called the Hundred Knight. The Hundred Knight is a beast of mythical proportions. Several feet tall, with dozens of arms, the strength of 100 men, spewing hot molten lava from both its crotch and its mouth. Said to be immensely powerful and a very complicated familiar to summon, Metallia, the Swamp Witch, discovers the ability of how to acquire it.
There’s just one slight issue. Whether it be a problem with the legend passed down through centuries, or if years of inactivity has weakened the Hundred Knight itself, is unsure. What is for certain, it’s not as strong as the legends claim and no sooner has it been summoned to the spirit realm, it’s beset upon by a giant creature. With no way to escape, The Hundred Knight must rely on Metallia’s words to reach the safety of an exit into the corporeal realm, but it isn’t so simple as just opening a door and with no way to fight the beast hot on its tail, it must flee.
From this point on, The Witch and the Hundred Knight lose its air of innocence and reveals itself for what it truly is. Much like the Hundred Knight itself, the game is not what it seems, at times going a little over the top with the expletives and maliciousness. Metallia is kind of a spoilt brat, somewhat obnoxious and not a particularly nice person. The problem is the game goes out of its way to hammer in the fact that you’re not the good guys. I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say that Metallia is evil, but she is certainly at the very least standoffish, rude and has no qualms about committing immoral acts. Themes of implied rape, forced slavery, matricide, sexual connotations and all sorts of depravity are abound in this rather crude action RPG title. This is not a game for kids.
The Witch and The Hundred Knight are told via Disgaea-like animations and the occasional CGI cutscenes. You are given choices every so often in the dialogue, but none of the choices have much meaning outside of altering only one or two lines of dialogue. Every character in the game is quite interesting and memorable, and it’s here that the game’s strength lies. While the main protagonist (antagonists/villain protagonist?) isn’t particularly likable, she is entertaining and treats all of her subjects with such over the top disdain it’s hard not to laugh. The story is quite interesting, and while it’s not the most intelligent of narratives, it’s more or less the only reason you’ll find to continue playing.
The Witch and the Hundred Knight play just like any other top-down action role-playing title. Your character, the titular Hundred Knight, can run around, jump, strike with its weapon, dodge and perform combos in combat. These combos are decided upon which weapons the Knight has equipped. There’s a choice of swords and spears for slash damage, clubs and lances for blunt damage, and staves, for inflicting magic damage. Each weapon in this category also has a number on a glyph stated from 1-5. Following these “dice” numbers when creating combos allows your knight to chain together bonuses, inflicting greater damage and further contributing to grade points and bonus points earned.
Grade points are built up just by both attacking and digging for items in certain spots, later in the game. Not only does chaining attacks together fill up the grade point bar, but it also fills up the AP bar to unleash devastating attacks. The grade points earned by damaging enemies or digging can then be put towards “revelations”; little temporary upgrades towards HP, AP, Attack, Defense, Bonus points and lastly Gigacals. Gigacals are possibly the most important aspect of the game as your amount dictates how long you can be in the real world, away from the swamp and Metallia. The counter starts at 99, and it is effectively your game time. However, it can be replenished by using grade points whenever you find a pillar (checkpoint), using unique items, or consuming enemies. The first two don’t have any penalties, but consumption of enemies is risky as they will stay in your stomach until the end of the level (along with any revelations upgraded). Enemies sit in your stomach stock as garbage. The stronger the enemy consumed, the more garbage their body will take up. This means you have less room for any items or weapons you find in the levels, so consumption should only be used when you’re low on Gigacals.
When encountering enemies in The Witch and the Hundred Knight, it’s important to note that not all enemies respond to all weapons the same way. Many have resistances to one of the three damage types (see earlier). Many weapons in another class can also inflict different kinds of damage. For example, a spear class that usually does slash damage may, in fact, do magic damage instead depending on its type, rarity, or unique properties. All weapons and equipment can be upgraded using anima dropped from enemies as well as items you dig up. Not all weapons can have more than a few upgrades, with the maximum seeming to be roughly ten. Further in the game, you will also access the ability to forge one weapon into another, losing one of them in the process to strengthen the other.
That may seem like a lot to learn, but it becomes minuscule and most of the time you can just hack and slash with whatever you like. Apart from bosses and their guard shield mechanic, there’s not much strategy to the game. Some puzzles are easy, and there’s the ability to raid villages i.e.; acquire more items. There’s also an alternate game mode called Illusion Tower which further borrows ideas from the Disgaea series. The Illusion Tower is an optional self-contained story dungeon that is created using your items. Whatever weapon you use to make the dungeon will dictate enemy strengths and levels. There is a boss every ten levels, which are rehashes of story bosses, and the only real highlight of the Illusion Tower is you can get better loot, and also use Metallia as a character. She controls pretty much the same as Hundred, just using magic and set equipment loadouts. That’s all there is to the game. Combat is very monotonous and starts to get boring a third of the way into the game, despite the depth, it seems to have. Sadly, The Witch and the Hundred Knight is a pretty generic hack and slash title.
The visuals are improved from the original, but that’s not saying a whole lot. The models still aren’t very detailed, and the environments are surprisingly bland, given the different stages there are. Admittedly, though, stage layouts are often entirely identical, with only pallets, meshes and textures altered. The PS4 obviously looks far less jagged, and more three-dimensional in comparison to the original, utilizing different lighting, shaders an updated engine, and new assets. The animations are pretty fluid, and enemies quite varied in their attacks, but not appearance. Most enemies, and in fact many bosses are just color swapped version of earlier bosses, boasting only an increase in hp and tactics as a change.
The game is still very bright and bouncy. The models and accompanying particle effects are decent enough, despite the lack of detail and still work with the overall aesthetic of the game. There’re one or two bits of nudity, a surprising amount of blood and the traditional animation scenes are quite enjoyable and well illustrated. All the characters look great, echoing how unique they are in both personality and ability. The women are quite pleasant to ogle with plenty of fan service and the boys while cute, don’t get as much screen time, except Lucchini. The bosses are usually far larger than the Hundred Knight on screen, with the battle arena most often quite limited in scale. Cut scenes are done Disgaea style, while character’s mouths barely move in synch with the words.
The voice acting is surprisingly top notch! Metallia’s range of emotions is fun to listen to, along with her rather severe standoffish nature. She swears along without a care throughout the whole game, and this bugged the hell out of me! If one makes a game with a character as vile as Metallia, then censors the really over the top cursing she does, it loses impact. It felt to me like NISA weren’t willing to commit to the spirit of the character for fear of offending people. Sadly, the censored beeping of her words breaks what little immersion the game already had, and sullens the experience. All the supporting cast of voice actors are great. Vicole Dotrish is adorable, and I just wanted to hug her and tell her everything would be okay. The butler as the straight man works quite well, and all the dialogue is pretty enjoyable. The voice acting and the energy the dubbing brought to the characters helped bring them alive, and make them even more memorable. One of the game’s few strengths.
The music is quite pretty at times, but this is sadly overshadowed by the fact you’ll have to slog through the game for a good 70 or so hours. This means you’re forced to hear the main theme of the swamp, and certain pieces that are overplayed to the point where I had to turn the volume down a few times. Add to that, the decent sound design which sadly had The Hundred Knight’s battle cries, chirps, squeaks coming through your PS4 controller, than the audio can start to get a bit grating.
I’m not going to lie. My opinion on this game was very mixed. Boss battles weren’t particularly special, and aside from the story and characters, the game was quite lacking. The fact you can only play as Metallia, in the optional Tower of Illusion dungeon as a power up for a limited time, bugged me considering she’s the protagonist. The massive grind wall that is thrown in front of you before Chapter 11, to unlock the final two game chapters, further sullied my experience. The game has a major exploit involving the Tower of Illusion that lets you bypass the grind quite a fair bit, but it’s still a sign of poor game design. Ultimately, a lot of Witch and The Hundred Knight is all flash and no substance. Combat at first seems deep until you realize half of its functions are practically worthless.
This is a basic game, and it plays like a baby’s first action roleplaying game. Once you get to Chapter 10, the difficulty curve ramps way up, and will likely frustrate those who are unprepared. This is further added to by the hidden part of the game that requires defeating three optional and challenging bosses to unlock. In short, The Witch and The Hundred Knight is one long grind! If games with lots of content but little substance are your sorts of thing, and you enjoy mashing the square button for the length of any other decent roleplaying game, then Hundred Knight might be for you. If you can stomach the monotony and bland level layouts, the story is actually pretty fun and rewarding. It’s just sadly not quite worth it. It’s a shame! It had a lot of potential and I was initially excited to try it. Better luck next time Nippon Ichi.
Incredibly interesting and well written plot with interesting characters
Impressive sound design and voice acting
Disgaea art style is as fun as always
Music is really repetitive and grating
Combat is boring and bland
Lots of backtracking
The Hundred Knight's cries are really annoying
Setpieces are recycled and bland