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Gameplay flourishes where the story languishes

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The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2

By Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong

NIPPON ICHI Software distinguishes itself from other developers by the style of its games. Displaying its strengths in the tactical genre, it is responsible for, among others, the Disgaea and Phantom Brave franchises, Japanese role-playing series that offer a lot of depth and a heap of charm. For all the headway it has made in churning out fan favorites, however, it does branch out from time to time while retaining its uniqueness. Enter The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2. Boasting of a traditional NIS feel and quirkiness alongside a singular visual flair, it definitely has the trappings gamers have come to expect from the publisher. As a hack-and-slash actioner, it features quick combos, exploration, and fast-paced combat.

Taking on the role of the Hundred Knight, a creature of the witch Chelka’s creation who can assume various forms called “facets,” you follow their story and endeavor to learn more about the strange illness that wreaks havoc on the children of the local population. Under Chelka’s command, you explore dungeons, use your skills, create weapons, fight monsters, perform wacky combos, and in the end, solve the mystery of the Witch’s Disease.

It all sounds interesting, to be sure, adding to the hype which, admittedly, The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2’s original story doesn’t quite live up to. While its premise is sound, it’s let down by its lack of focus. Initially, things start off on a promising note, as Chelka, possessing a young girl’s body, is forced to deal with the girl’s older sister. Injected with dark humor and tone, it seems like it’s going somewhere interesting as it slowly expands its world and introduces new characters. Unfortunately, its pacing is, at best, uneven, and while the dialogue remains consistently witty, its visual-novel-like segments simply don’t do the plot justice.

Thankfully, The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2’s gameplay flourishes where the story languishes. It’s an isometric dungeon crawler with all the markings of the genre, but with definitely welcome twists. You get to arm Hundred Knight with five separate weapons, and combos are based on the order they are equipped. And depending on what type of weapon is used, Hundred Knight changes attack patterns and damage output. The result is an interesting dance between moving and exploiting enemy weak spots and making sure to equip the proper weapons to suit the requisite playstyle. Couple this with the skills you have access to and the game’s class system (the aforesaid “facets,” which can be switched on the fly), and battles become less of a tedious grind and more like a rhythm that you adapt to.

That said, The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2 has other issues to contend with. It’s certainly fun, but sometimes feels like it’s at odds with itself. While the game encourages players to be aggressive and to keep moving forward due to its GigaCalories mechanic, the controls don’t exactly flow as well as they should. The visuals are captivating and movement is smooth, but the camera remains a constant source of frustration, often hiding foes from sight until they’re already near. Aiming at enemies can be annoying due to the lack of depth the top-down perspective lends. And, at worst, it suffers from a glaring inability to break away from its gameplay loop. While hunting foes and getting stronger in the process of vanquishing them is definitely engrossing, it’s just about the only thing you can do. Its action elements are addictive, but the scattershot approach to a seemingly compelling storyline may dampen the mood depending on your commitment to see it through. If you’re not keen on unveiling the resolution, there’s simply not much for you to look forward to aside from engaging in battle after battle.

In the final analysis, The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2 is an acquired taste. The story isn’t up to snuff, but it’s faithful in tone to its predecessor, and it promises hours upon hours of gameplay to keep adrenal glands pumping. Moreover, its core mechanics are solid enough that even without a gripping story proceeding briskly, it’s got loads to offer. It falls short of its lofty goals, but if you’re looking to burn an afternoon or two exploring dungeons and beating down foes at steady frame rates, you’ll find your fix in it and deem your $60 a worthy investment.


Video Game Review

The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2
PlayStation 4

THE GOOD

• Quirky and fun

• Colorful artstyle and design

• Compelling combat mechanics

• Simple but surprisingly addictive gameplay

THE BAD

• Uneven pace

• Storytelling falls short of sustaining promising start

• Bad camera angles with poor camera controls

• Highly repetitive

RATING: 7/10