The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2 Review – Silly Entertainment
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed)
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: NIS America
Release: 30th March 2018
Rarely do I come across an interesting looking game “series” with both intriguing gameplay and art. The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2 was exactly such a game. Obviously being a sequel it only caught my interest this March and I just had to check it out. Mainly due to the colourful, somehow unique artstyle, combined with the already showcased silly dialogues.
Story-wise, the game revolves around two sisters, the older Emelie and the younger Milm. However, when Milm is infected with the so-called Witch diseases, that turns humans into evil witches, they´re forced to flee their hometown. A few years later, Emelie became a part of the witch hunters, who promised to cure Milm of before she awakened. Unfortunately, they soon have to find out, that it´s too late and the villain Chelka is born.
Right off the bat, it´s an interesting set-up to create this sister mechanic. One loves her sister to the moon and back, while the other became an evil witch, refusing both her family and world, only interested in bringing death to the world. It´s a dark, grim story about an unfortunate pair of humans. Yet, The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2 does surprisingly little with this plot. Instead, it focuses on introducing more and more side characters … then abandoning them a few hours later. As a result, conversations between those often feel more like narrative expositions, rather than naturally flowing dialogues. At the same time, due to their little screentime, a huge chunk of its promising cast remains little more than clunky NPCs without much context.
On the other hand, The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2 loses its grip on the two main protagonists and their conflict. Emelie and Chelka, who occasionally turns back to Milm, are the core parts, yet, their character development stays marginal. The older sister remains the one always trying to help her younger sister, while the evil witch remains evil. Almost all of their screentime is used for, admittedly, funny, silly or occasionally mean conversations, not adding much substance but able to entertain for the first third before becoming redundant. Also, let´s not forget we play as Hundred Knight, a faceless, voiceless doll, only able to throw in some noises, which never change anything either. Throughout the whole game, neither the player nor plot feels important, just entertained, if you like the humour.
The gameplay consists of navigating Hundred Knight through procedurally generated dungeons. While health and mana are two standard bars to keep an eye on, the so-called Gigacalories are a unique feature, basically connecting your life to the time limit. If you take damage, they will deplete faster than usual, if you die, you lose a huger chunk of them, so paying close attention to both health and the time itself, especially when the two are connected, is a big focus of the whole experience. Since Gigacalories are always available in huge amounts too, they´re more a psychological threat than a real one, at least if you play half decent.
What I enjoyed the most though is the combat system, able to mix real-time with tactic. On the one hand, it only features a single five hit combo, no extended moveset or neatly hidden moves. Instead, it achieves variety through the fact you can choose which weapon should be used in each of those five attacks. Ranging from swords, spears and even staffs, all of them have a unique type of attack, pros, cons and movesets. So, a sword might be inefficient against insects, yet, with a sword/hammer combo you should be ready for them nonetheless. Combined with the Facet system, which allows equipping different types of “sets” to Hundred Knight, either inforcing blunt damage in exchange for sharp or giving you higher amounts of HP, the combat can actually get quite deep if you´re willing to put up with it. Unfortuntately, The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2 doesn´t force you, as it has an incredible low difficulty curve, where I could kill everything with the same facet and weapons.
Nonetheless, the procedurally generated levels are probably the biggest reason why the game just doesn´t feel as intuitive as it should. Since there only exist a few tiles and presets, dungeons quickly repeat themselves. Especially when most of the time we wander through the same environment type, fight the same enemies in the same arena and so on, becomes boring in no time. Although the gameplay can still carry the boredom during the first ten hours, past this point, I felt more like giving up than enjoying myself.
Artistically, as I previously hinted, The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2 hits just the right spot. Featuring a unique mix of dark designs with bright colours and interesting vision. It´s the thing that hooked me after all, so the visual novel parts didn´t disappoint. Unsurprisingly, the in-game graphics aren´t anything to write home about but get the job done of delivering a simple, smooth running experience, feeling a lot like classic JRPGs, rather than anything new, rather fitting for the game.
Even though I didn´t expect much more than a fun time from The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2, it still somehow disappointed me. For a 50 dollar price tag, there´s simply more I´d expect, than silly dialogues, a neat artstyle and alright combat system. For people able to enjoy repetitive gameplay and previously named features, the game might be worth it, otherwise … not really.
[A Review Code was provided by NIS America]