Nippon Ichi Software has a solid grasp on SRPG. With The Witch and the Hundred Knight, the Disgaea developers attempt to create a complex SRPG. What works in Disgaea doesn’t necessarily translate well with The Witch and The Hundred Knight ; however, this hack n’ slash has its share of addicting moments.
The Swamp Witch Metallia—be sure not to call her Lia—has awaken the notoriously powerful Hundred Knight. Metallia discovers that the Hundred Knight, despite being regarded as a powerful familiar, is actually a blank slate. He begins the game without intelligence, and he is capable of only following the orders of the witch who summoned him. As the game progresses, the deceptively cute Hundred Knight is given the chance to think for himself. This especially comes into play as the players observes how Metallia behaves around her allies and enemies. I won’t dive into spoiler territory, but Metallia commits vile acts and treats the Hundred Knight and her servant, Arlecchino, as lesser beings. After a particularly heinous act, we find out that Metallia, who is surprisingly calm about this, only has 99 days left to live. During her remaining 99 days on the planet, Metallia hopes to spread her swamp all over the world, but the Hundred Knight becomes more intelligent as days pass.
While it’s an interesting setup, it’s marred by excessive dialogue. Dialogue boxes interrupt the action too often, breaking the game’s flow. This wouldn’t be so bad if the characters weren’t so long-winded I only wished that the characters could say more with less. This is an annoying feature that persisted since the introductory tutorial, which, by the way, failed to tell players how to perform important actions like healing or even blocking (it did teach my how to dodge, though). I was able to figure out how to perform these actions on my own, but it would have been nice if The Witch and The Hundred Knight had properly taught me.
When it’s time for the Hundred Knight to be sent out on missions, he brings a wide arsenal of weapons with him; this is where I found the bulk of the fun. The Hundred Knight can equip several weapon types including swords, spears, hammers, and staves. They all are assigned a different damage type, including slash, blunt and magic. Enemies are weak to a certain property, so players will constantly change their weapons to adapt to their current situation. In addition, the types of weapons you equip affect how quickly the Hundred Knight can use a follow-up attack. You do have to dive into the menu frequently if you want use the best equpiment, and I wish that Nippon Ichi Software had implemented a system where you could seamlessly switch between three custom weapon set-ups—kind of like in The World Ends With You.
Combat is deceptively simple. For the most part, players mash square so that the Hundred Knight uses each of the five weapons he has equipped. However, each action is tied to a stamina bar. There are also times when you’ll need to block or dodge, which uses the same stamina bar and leaves the Hundred Knight unable to execute more strikes. In addition, the Hundred Knight has some other moves including summoning weaker familiars called Tochika. These Tochika can be used to blow up road blocks or aid the Hundred Knight in battle. There’s a lot to take in when dealing with The Witch and the Hundred Knight actions, and I often forgot that I was simply mashing Square.
However, that repetition isn’t completely absolved because of The Witch and the Hundred Knight’s mixed presentation. Graphics look more at home with the PlayStation 2’s library. Each levels is bland and lacks distinguishing features. This meant that I spent many hours retreading the same steps, even though I had a map in the top right corner of the screen. This map becomes all but useless when the game introduces teleportation devices and other unnecessary puzzles. The biggest offender is the enemy designs. The Witch and the Hundred Knight is presented in an isometric view, and many of the enemies are simply too small to be properly seen from this angle. Even worse is that the enemies often have the same color scheme as the levels they inhabit. At worst, an enemy would hit me and I would fail to see it in time; at best I managed to properly defeat my enemy, but I never got a good look at its face. The presentation isn’t all bad. The soundtrack has a delightfully Halloween feel—perfectly suited with the story’s themes, and it’s somewhat pleasing to listen to while trudging through the same hallways. And while the voice-acting is a mixed bag, the actors and actresses sound like they’re enjoying themselves.
The other issue I have is that the game presents many ideas, and only some of them are properly fleshed out. On the positive side, I could tune the game to become as simple or challenging as I wanted it to be. I could change the challenge from casual to normal at any time. On casual, I didn’t need to spend my time experimenting with weapons; however, on normal, it helped to constantly tweak my style. You can also change the Hundred Knight’s appearance, each of which alters his stats. There are plenty of other factors that can change the likely outcome of a fight, but the point is that the game can be as accessible or challenging as players want it to be.
But then there is the raiding system, which simply seems like an elaborate means of opening a treasure chest. The Hundred Knight will come across many villages on his quest, and he could either lay low or raid each home for treasure. Even though I had the option to visit a home, the villagers seemed to pay no mind to The Hundred Knight, and each home offered items that were more valuable than the ones I could find at the store.I had no incentive to be nice, even though I could choose to be antagonistic towards Metallia in conversation. Even the act of raiding felt meaningless. As long as my level was higher than the owner’s, I could generally activate the cartoonish fight scenes without further interaction.
The Witch and the Hundred Knight has a solid foundation for a hack-n’-slash RPG. The problem lies in the presentation, which often interrupts the action. Nippon Ichi Software fans will probably be able to overlook these faults, but newcomers may want to rent before they decide to p.
This review is based off the PS3 code sent to us by NIS America