This review is going to carry a different tone and style than my other reviews. I am going to write this one rather casually, since it is the best way I can think of. The game in question here is The Witch and the Hundred Knight. It is for the PlayStation 3 and it was made by Nippon Ichi Software. This development team is best known for the reasonably well-accepted Disgaea franchise. The Witch and the Hundred Knight is a fresh project, but this particular effort is likely going to have issues gaining much traction.
Let us begin with the story. The fairy-tale-esque plot centers on the “great” Swamp Witch Metallia, who aims to spread the toxic swamp throughout the land and killing other great witches along the way. However, her powers are the equivalent of a wet peashooter the moment she is not breathing green acid, so she contracts with a being to do her bidding and aid her in this goal. This being is the Hundred Knight, which in legend is a powerful demon that summons terror that shakes the very foundation of the world. However, the actual Hundred Knight is a whelp the size of a basketball and has less intelligence than a preschooler. By working as hard as a college student that has a final in two hours, this Hundred Knight has the ability to wreak havoc with big weapons and skills to accomplish tasks, while progressing to the intelligence of a Kindergartener. Pillars are broken to spread the swamp, people will stand in the way, and Metallia’s words are of a vibrant green color, the same green as the acid that surrounds her house.
Really then, the best thing about this story is the humor. It is a rather dark humor, with bleeping language and cruel jokes and actions, but sometimes it hits really well at the right moment and makes for a great laugh. That smile is almost as quickly slapped out afterwards. Now, the characters are quite one-dimensional, but that is something I am willing to accept. It is not like fairy tale stories are required to come with intricate power-control conspiracy plot lines on the scale of House of Cards. What is a problem is the characters don’t know when to shut up. The cutscenes and dialogue sequences would drag on for so long that the characters become increasingly unlikeable. It is easier to blaze through the text and work on speed reading skills. So, the verdict is an understandable story that comes with good humor but talks too much.
When the characters are not talking till your ears are blue, this game is an overhead-RPG where you run up to things and hit stuff. To make things more interesting, you have combos that occur with multiple weapons, like a sword-spear-staff-hammer chain of unfathomable power. Playing as the little Hundred Knight, Metallia gives some additional abilities, including summoning little bomb buddies, and raiding innocent villages and getting the loot. The loot that enemies drop is rather standard, like mildly-interesting weapons, and health leafs. Other RPG bits are standard as well, like exploring areas, weapon leveling, equipping accessories, stats, more stats, and dumping rubbish junk at the same local store the Hundred Knight recently raided. The game is not exactly hard to learn, but the dreadfully long tutorial could have better explained some things. Now, the combat-based gameplay does provide for very brief moments of great excitement. Pulling off a 5-hit combo that wipes out all of an enemy’s health invokes the kind of thrill that Kratos might have experienced when he decided to slowly blow up the Greek world. Much like the story, the excitement dies out as quickly as it comes. Because the most common actions performed is running, hitting, dodging, and mashing past long story scenes, the gameplay fun has the shallowness of a local park lake. It is not particularly bad, but most of the time it feels like having only wheat bread for dinner. While not unhealthy, the taste gets bland very quickly. Once every five minutes, you get a bite of ham and Swiss, and then the flavor goes away again.
Artistically, the looks are adequate. It is not particularly unique or stunningly cool, but it works with the fairy-tale-esque theme. Some of the story dialogue comes with 2D art, and is kind of nice to look at. Technical implementation did an excellent job of looking like an early PlayStation 3 game. The edges of the 3D models look rather pixelated, the textures feel like they are only eighty percent there, and the color is kind of murky. I feel that more vibrant colors would really be nice. In addition, animations are rather basic, and the animation set for the characters do not have much. Probably the most startling bit is how long it takes for this game to load, on startup and on levels. Move away from the 3D rendering and to the 2D art and things get better. Music is rather normal, really. It does the fairy-tale theme, and does it well enough. Some of it is rather catchy.
Ok, so here is the conclusion. The best thing I can say about The Witch and the Hundred Knight is that, unlike most mediocre games I play, it does have the goods to briefly put a huge smile on my face. The worst thing I can say about this game is that it never understands why it puts such a big smile on my face during those brief seconds, and proceeds to let boredom seep in. Now, I would not say that Witch and Hundred Knight is a bad game. I would say it has the excitement level of a four-cylinder Toyota Camry. While some wonderful fun can be found in specific moments, the overwhelming feeling becomes mediocrity and blandness.
Final Score: 6.5/10