The Witch and the Hundred Knight is the first true action RPG Published by NIS America. Although the subject matter is a little more twisted and crass than the usual type of RPG that NIS America publishes, this game marks an effort to do something a little different and a little more fun in content and gameplay alike. TWATHK has its ups and downs but overall it is a deep game with plenty content for the experience.
The Hundred Knight is the silent protagonist that has been summoned by Metallia the Swamp Witch to help her turn the whole world into one big, smelly swamp. As can be expected, Metallia needs the Hundred Knight’s assistance to deactivate several pillars that have the ability to turn any type of terrain into swamp lands. These pillars are located in forests, deserts and other types of terrain that she cannot teleport to so she has to send the HK out to begin the process of terraforming the planet. Because she only has her powers in swampy areas, it is up to the HK to complete the tasks placed before him so that Metallia can set her plans in motion to reign over the entire world.
If you have ever played any type of dungeon crawler then the level designs in TWATHK will be familiar to you. Each level consists of many different types of enemies at varying strength levels and it is up to you to dispatch them, loot their corpses and proceed to the level’s goal. There were many times where the level design itself would block the view of the play area but it is nothing that could not be solved by just swinging the camera around to the left or right a bit. The User Interface, as well, could oftentimes block the player and the enemies but not so badly that it was too hard to keep track of the action.
One of the best features of The Witch and the Hundred Knight is the artwork that is used to create the varied and lush game world. The whole of the game consists of beautifully painted scenery that has a sort of fairy tale quality to it. The dialogue scenes are done in an anime-inspired art style that looks cool and gives the characters personality. Weapon strikes and magic use is represented with bright flashing, colorful effects that really complement the action on screen and lets the Hundred Knight feel like he is the ultimate bad guy.
Damage is done to the enemies by way of a 5-hit combo system. The Hundred Knight is able to be equipped with five weapons at a time allowing for the customization of many different types and styles of combos. Different weapons obviously handle differently but the fun is finding the combination that really brings the hammer down, sometimes literally, on the multitude of creatures you will face. Fine tuning your perfect combo for the situation at hand will take some experimenting to get just right but with a little patience, and trial and error, one can be found to be the answer you were desperately looking for.
The biggest letdown of the game is the GigaCal system. This system is basically a “Time Limit” device that if it had been better utilized could have been the difference between TWATHK being a good game and it being a great game. When the HK enters a level, he starts at 100 GigaCals and with every action or reaction that he takes, the GigaCals system counts down to zero. As it stands, it’s just a way to make you hurry through the levels for no apparent reason but all you have to do to reset the GigaCals counter is return to base and then return back to the level. It seems like this system was added as a way to get the player to think more about their strategy for conquering the levels but it just misses the mark.
One other issue that may irritate a lot of players are the long text based cut scenes that slowly move the story along. During my play through, I encountered several long winded scenes, some even lasting up to twenty minutes. This is good if there are decent spans of high action gameplay between cut scenes, but a couple of these happen right in the beginning of the game. It was about 45 minutes to an hour before I got to the first save point. Much of the dialogue could have been condensed to keep the story going along at a faster clip so the player can get right back to the action. If need be, however, there is a Fast Forward option so that you can skip the dialogue altogether if you want.
One definite shining spot for The Witch and the Hundred Knight is the soundtrack. The music is fabulous and complements the witch theme perfectly. You hear a lot of the same tunes while traversing the different levels but it never gets old. The voice action is also surprisingly good for a title of this caliber. Much of the dialogue may be considered vulgar but the voice actors really did a good job of making the situations funny and entertaining and I found myself often laughing out loud in spite of myself.
Although the imagery and graphics from the game look very cartoony, the “M” rating that this game has earned is for a reason. The image on the front of the box may be somewhat misleading, however, but because of the vulgar language and some imagery, don’t pick this one up for your kids. This game is definitely for a more mature audience. Then again, if you are of appropriate age and you are looking for something lighthearted and full of humorous situations, then this is it. This isn’t the best RPG ever to come out of NIS America but it is entertaining as all get out and I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Metallia’s swamp.