NISA has brought us some really enjoyable action RPGs over the past couple of years, but nothing quite like The Witch And The Hundred Knight. That isn’t a typo, there’s just one knight, technically. That’s just his name. Hundred Knight. In some press I’ve heard the game related to the likes of Diablo, and in the sense of it being an RPG in which you level up, I can see that. I find it to remind me more of classic top down Zelda games overworld gameplay really.
First off, I like what Hundred Knight starts off as. I do suspect that as the game goes on, it will drastically change however, but I do like the witch Metallia a lot. You’re being forced to carry out deeds for her as the Hundred Knight, a summoned magical creature. Obviously as always I don’t want to get into spoilers, but I enjoyed that you were just her obedient slave. It’s something you don’t see much of in gaming very much. You are given the choice to reject or disgaree with things, but I suspect you’re kinda forced into decisions at the start regardless.
I’m actually kind of hoping that Metallia doesn’t go too soft in her quest, but naturally like with many NIS adventures, you’re not given all the facts at the start. The story itself though has kept me going, which is a great thing. Sometimes you can get into lulls in RPGs or quests that just don’t feel that important. I’m sure Hundred Knight may have some slower moments eventually, but the game has kept me quite interested so far and I’ve only run a number of areas so far.
So the swamp witch Metallia lives in an elaborate house in the swamp, supported by her butler of sorts and a few neighbouring magical creatures that are different than Hundred Knight. She can’t go beyond the swamp, so she’s summoned you to open these pillars up that will allow her swamp to spread. In typical NIS fashion you can go back to previous areas, level up and wander around in the decently sized maps. They’re not small tactical play fields like Disgaea, these are more like maybe the size of the desert in Link To The Past or something like that.
The game itself is an action RPG in an interesting sense. You have a mix of weapons to choose from and each type has a different sort of attack. Swords slash, but hammers deliver a slower but heavier bash. You can assign up to five I believe and when you mash away on the attack button the game runs through this list of weapons, swapping in a combo between each weapon as you attack. This creates a cool way to tackle your foes, and allows you to mix up attacks for enemies that are weak against certain weapons.
Another quirk the game adds is gigaCals, which is a percentage that ticks down as you move about and battle in an area. You’ll need to leave the level to recharge this meter to keep your Hundred Knight’s power up. This isn’t hard to do fortunately as you activate many checkpoint pillars throughout levels. These pillars even give you a chance to power up your Hundred Knight with points you earn in an area to give him temporary buffs. Why would you do that? Each area lets you gain experience points, but you don’t level up until you complete the level, or leave at one of those pillars. So the buffs help improve your Hundred Knight a bit.
Unfortunately there are a couple down sides such as some of the smaller enemies being difficult to see. Each foe has a power bar, and that helps you identify them, and they show up on your map, but sometimes it’s a bit hard to know what’s going on. That and you don’t stop hitting foes if you’re in a combo and beat them. So even if an enemy is defeated, you’ll keep on smashing them. So sometimes you’re not quite sure if you’ve landed that final blow yet. It’s quickly apparent, but it may have been better if enemies just vanished in a flash of light or such after being defeated the instant you’ve landed enough damage. I don’t know if this plays into the game later mind you. Maybe some foes regenerate. At the start it just feels distracting though, especially if you’re trying to do shorter combos.
The “Witch Domination” concept which allows Hundred Knight to take over a building seems underused too. There’s no physical change to the building it seems, nor any notice that is placed upon it’s text. At least not that I noticed earlier on. It’s kind of a shame since the game does hype you up as Metallia’s little minion at the start. You do kinda just want to go out and conquer. Basically you’re able to raid most buildings you come across. This nets you an item for taking it over, and potentially one more goody if you visit them afterwards. However doing Witch Dominations also raises your karma rank, which can raise the cost of store items for the Hundred Knight.
Of course, all in all the game is about story, and I’ve found the decently lengthy dialogues in the game to be enjoyable so far. I think the real question about picking up the game is, how interested are you in experiencing Metallia’s story? Sure there are action areas, and leveling up your Hundred Knight, and even different forms you can swap him to, but at the end it’s all about the tale itself. I’m enjoying the game! Gameplay works well aside from occasional obscure combat moments, there are big boss battles, and of course you can go back to previous areas and grind to level up.
Honestly, I do need more time with The Witch And The Hundred Knight. However, I don’t expect my opinion to change. I’ve actually slowed down and just enjoyed the game, hence my lack of progress. Combat may have it’s issues, but it also feels quite solid when you’re running through your combo. If you’re an NIS fan, odds are you’ll enjoy this title. After all, it’s a darker toned story working for Metallia that you’re used to in a lot of their games like Disgaea and such. I’d certainly say it was worth the wait and it’s awesome NISA has brought this game to our shores.