The latest HD port/re-release for PS4 from publisher NIS America and developer Nippon Ichi Soft is a very beautiful, yet strange Diablo-like action RPG with a top-down, isometric view called The Witch and the Hundred Knight: Revival Edition, which was originally launched exclusively for the Playstation3 system just a few years ago. Nippon Ichi is perhaps better known for making the Disgaea RPG series, although they’ve also developed and published many other action role-playing games that fall into more of a niche category like the rogue-like ‘The Awakened Fate Ultimatum’ and ‘The Guided Fate Paradox’, one of which I reviewed for this site and enjoyed quite a bit. The most noticeable similarities between Disgaea and Witch and Hundred Knight are it’s beautifully designed character art and world which has a very distinct aesthetic and is instantly evocative of the visual style seen in the Disgaea series.
The story revolves around a mean-spirited, foul-mouthed witch named Metallia and focuses on her path of revenge against other witches ruling over different parts of the world. She is confined to living in her home in a swamp, the swamp being the source of her magic power, so she summons a mythical powerful being, called the Hundred Knight to go out and explore the world in her place in order to destroy magic pillars to spread swamp mud, thus giving Metallia a means to invade rival territories and overtake her enemies. However, Hundred Knight it turns out isn’t actually as great and powerful of a being that Metallia expected, but a very weak, mindless fighter with very little conscience.
This, of course, allows Metallia to utilize the little warrior (player character) to perfectly carry out all of her malicious bidding without opposition and being an action RPG, it conveniently sets up a system for needing to make your character more powerful through combat experience and exploration or – grinding, of which there is a lot of in this game! On the colorful surface, Witch and the Hundred Knight plays just like a modern Diablo game, although it layers on quite a few combat systems to add a bit of depth and complexity. The player takes control of silent protagonist Hundred Knight through most of the game, with the camera set to a top-down isometric viewpoint, and must hack-and-slash through a variety of colorful landscapes, from neon green swamps to forests covered with dense foliage, populated towns, villages, palaces, etc. Hundred Knight can swap between 3 weapon types at any time with either slash, blunt or magic properties and can equip up to 5 weapons per type to create combo chains. For example, you can equip five swords to create a 5-hit combo with slashing effects, or swap over to a blunt weapon set like hammers to do a 5-hit combo with blunt effects, which are effective for hard shell enemies, or equip a magic weapon set and so on.
Apart from the straightforward hack-and-slash combat, there is somewhat of a rogue-like element at play at all times in the form of a countdown timer displayed on the top left corner of the screen referred to as a Giga Calorie counter, which starts to counts down from the number 99 as soon as you enter an area and depletes by exploring, fighting, or using special abilities. If the Gcals timer expires, your health bar will start to rapidly diminish until you are KO’ed, and in that case, you will lose all of the items you found and re-spawn back at the last magic pillar you destroyed. You can regain Gcals by using consumable items from your inventory or by devouring enemies. As you explore through the maps, you will have to destroy magic pillars which then serve as checkpoints and will also allow you to travel back to home base to restock items in a general store, and also upgrade weapons, etc.
Much of the game progression and story is laid out in a linear fashion and is chapter based. Although you can revisit previously explored areas for grinding purposes, the chapters are typically bookended with animated 2D anime character narrations and dialog text boxes. You can also encounter populated villages and towns while exploring where you can talk to NPCs, and you have the option to raid or visit residences, often rewarding you with rare items. There are some very light puzzle elements while exploring maps that usually require activating switches, locating keys to unlock gates in order to proceed further, or use bombs and other magic abilities to clear obstructed paths. As the game progresses you will also add new forms of Knights that have different appearances and changed stats and effects, called ‘facets’.
Witch and the Hundred Knight is a pretty straightforward action RPG with enough combat systems layered on to keep things fresh and interesting, however, the combat can feel pretty monotonous after a while, where even the boss fights at the end of each area can be overcome by sheer brute force rather than skill. The story is quite odd and unusual in that the main character is quite repugnant and immoral, often lacing obscenities throughout every conversation, which felt a bit jarring at first, but refreshing for an RPG since protagonists in these types of games tend to be more on the morally good side. The music compliments the visual aesthetic pretty well and emphasizes the feeling of an enchanted magic world that the story takes place in. Some new features in the HD port include new graphics and the Tower of Illusion, which is a brand new separate area that functions more like a traditional rogue-like in that you must survive through enemy filled floors as you attempt to reach the highest level of the tower. You can also summon Metallia the swamp witch at certain points in the tower.
This review is based on a review copy of the PlayStation 4 version of Witch and the Hundred Knight: Revival Edition developed by Nippon Ichi Software
- Repetitive Combat