Lets get this out of the way: I’m not sure I’ve ever played a game like The Witch and The Hundred Knight.
As such, I’m not sure I can review it in the standard format. Instead, I’m going to give you the play by play of my experience with the game.
Chapter 1: Intrigue
I didn’t know much of anything about The Witch and The Hundred Knight before I started playing it. All I essentially knew was that it had anime-like visuals and was developed by NIS America. Granted, this alone had me pretty interested. I’m a fan of the work NIS does (Disgaea is still one of the hands-down funniest video games I’ve ever played) and I can get into some anime visuals. Speaking of which, the visuals seem pretty neat. The witch on the cover had an interesting character design (if not a bit fan service-y) but all in all, I was all systems go at this point.
Chapter 2: Realization
The first major development in the relationship between The Witch and The Hundred Knight and I revolve around the realization that I do not actually get to play as that Witch on the cover. Her name’s Metallia and she basically just yelled at me during the whole tutorial while I controlled a guy that was very reminiscent of a Heartless from Kingdom Hearts (he is technically THE Hundred Knight. Don’t ask).
So that’s a thing. Which was weird since so much of the box, intro, and online ad material seems to be dedicated to Metallia there. That’s not enough to discourage me though. I’m a magic demon… familiar… thing. That’s cool. The tutorial quickly demonstrated that this game is going to be about isometric hack ‘n slash action.
Chapter 3: Or Not…
Well, I guess I jumped the gun there. It’s KIND OF about hack ‘n slash action. It’s also about very arcane customization features, classes, weapon combos (weapons plural. You equip and use 6+ weapons at once), and… eating? Or something? This game is awash in a sea of jargon. Make sure not to run out of GigaCals, or else you may not be able to get enough Anima to subject villages to your Witch Domination (proper noun). I mean, mechanically, it’s all pretty simple (except for the Anima thing, or why exactly you want to Witch Dominate people) but the jargon is a bit unclear.
Editor’s note: I have no idea what the heck is going on in this game, Someone has clearly gone mad with genre-swapping power.
Chapter 4: What Is Happeniiiiiing??
This is where I start to fall off the wagon. Just look at this UI:
There is just too much going on there. I’m not sure what that 99x at the bottom is. I have no idea why (in the top right hand corner) your “Behavior” might be “Off”. I mean, everything has its place once you know the system. That circle in the middle is a stamina bar, the “68.70” at the top is your GigaCal meter (aka hunger or something). Not sure what that purple circle with the “hit” is…
Anyways, the point is that there is just a lot to digest in The Witch and The Hundred Knight. This might not be too bad, but then this gets compounded with the REAL problems of the game.
Speaking of, holy cow that music. We’ll get to that later, but it could NOT be less fitting. Everything about this game is a sensory overload.
Chapter 5: Wow…
This is the part where everything comes crumbling down. It’s not immediately apparent, but this game shoots the bird at literally anything resembling continuity. It also relies a lot on “shock value”.
This begins mildly enough. The game’s cute and your little guy runs around and makes adorable noises. You get to eat enemies, but this fills your stomach with garbage (basically your inventory). So you have to “Bowl Dump” to clear it.
Alright. Poop jokes. Cool.
However, it takes that bearing and just goes. Pretty soon, you’re meeting Metallia’s arch rival, at which point she yells for you to “Rip the f**king skin off that sl*t!” all while carnival-esque j-pop plays in the background.
Editor’s note: What drugs are these developers on?
This wouldn’t even be so bad if they didn’t have reward systems like confetti and trumpets after you turn some obviously innocent and kind woman into a red smear on the ground. The point here is that the cover of this game makes it seem cute, but sassy. Like Metallia has some attitude. The problem being that the”attitude” is the following: “Laugh as I turn my mother into a mouse so she can be (explicitly) sexually assaulted by rat monsters”.
Chapter 6: Coming Down
So in the end, what do we have? An isometric hack ‘n slash game with a very open (and complex) customization system. One that has a pretty dark, demented, sense of humor, yet masquerades as a sassy, but cute, anime game. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with the gameplay (though it’s a bit meandering at times, not always clearly stating where you need to go), nor is there anything inherently wrong about the humor (even if it’s not for me, and NOT what one might expect from the initial presentation of the game).
If you played NIS America’s other games and got into their more obtuse systems, like winning votes for underworld politicians in Disgaea, then this game may be for you, as long as you can ALSO get into the notion that remorseless violence is something that should be celebrated with carnival music. That music, though…ugh…
Editor’s note: Having watched the gameplay clip from the link, I want to remove my ear drums and step on them from that music.
In the end, the audience for The Witch and The Hundred Knight is just too niche.
The visuals are pretty good and the combat is decent. Basically, the identified the core experience (fighting) and polished it to a point where it could carry the game.
User Feedback is dissonant, the sound track can be grating, the shock value of the dialog grows tiresome (reused jokes really kill this), and the customization systems are arcane.