NIS is well known for creating and publishing many JRPGs and bringing them to the west very consistently. This is great as a lot of treasures make their way to our shores and as they make a large number of different niche titles this makes many fans happy, but the titles can be a bit of a mixed bag.
Having missed the game in its first release I was really keen to sink my teeth into The Witch and the Hundred Knight which I found falls somewhere in the middle. It is a game that has a lot of positives, but even more averages.
The Witch and the Hundred Knight drops you in as the not too bright Hundred Knight to help the swamp witch Metalia; who is unable to leave her swamp. Metalia wants to defeat the forest witch Malia and so she requires the Hundred Knights assistance to do so. Story wise, one wold find The Witch and the Hundred Knight to be very NIS.
It is full of tropes, it’s silly, over the top and like the Disgaea games; you play as bad characters. Where the Disgaea games do this perfectly, walking a fine line to make evil very funny, The Witch and the Hundred Knight does not seem to do this quite so well. Do not get me wrong, it has its moments, but just knowing the way NIS has done better in the past just sat in the back of my mind throughout the experience. Although Disgaea makes being the bad guys fun and humorous, The Witch and the Hundred Knight just makes it seem mean most of the time.
The art direction and style will be well known to NIS fans and immediately recognisable. The weirdly proportioned characters, beautiful anime styles and backgrounds look stunning. Comparing the revival edition to the original screens I could not see much of a difference, but that is just because it looked amazing in the first place.
Gameplay wise it takes a big step away from Disgaea, rather than being a strategy RPG it is more of a real time hack and slash RPG. It has the same animated three quarter angled gameplay views but provides a very different experience by looking the same but playing differently.
Combat is not that deep, you have a range of skills but will spend the bulk of the time dodging and mashing square. When outside of the combat you will get explore and raid houses. This nets you items and bad karma, but without a good explanation or quirky humour, it just felt mean. This is where the misses of that humour kicks in again, even in a minor way it affects gameplay.
The Gigacals system involves how much time you spend out and about. Each time you leave you have a set number of Gigacals and you use them with each action you do. You can gain more by consuming enemies when they are weak enough, but thanks to the teleporting system in the game it does not become much of a roadblock in the game.
Functionally the game runs effectively. The load times are not bad, the combat runs smoothly and consistently, except it lost one of my saves. Fortunately it happened early on in the game so I did not lose too much progress and after googling if the issue was present before, it does not appear to be, so I am not sure if I had a freak incident or if it is an issue, either way it is a good reason to make sure you use save backups just in case.
The Witch and the Hundred Knight is not the best game to come out of NIS, but with their usual high standards that does not mean it is not a very good game. The games silliness shines through at times and fans of NIS will recognise its tone, even if the game does lose it at times. It is simple and a little repetitive, but on the whole it was an enjoyable experience.
Released: March 2016
Platforms: PlayStation 4
Genre: J-RPG, Adventure, Fantasy
Developer: NIS America
Publisher: NIS America