This review of The Witch and The Hundred Knight 2 was provided via a review code. this will in no way affect the outcome of this review.
The Witch and The Hundred Knight 2 opens with a young girl named Milm and her older sister Amalie in their home village. Milm has been afflicted with Witch Disease, (which starts with a third eye appearing on the forehead?!), forcing her and Amalie to leave the village for good. After a year in exile, Amalie takes Milm to Weisse Ritter, an organisation designed to fight against the forces of evil in an attempt to cure her of her plight. After a few twists and turns and typical JRPG style drama, we are left with our crazy haired, over the top good guys and bad guys. Amalie takes the role of the good guy, enlisting the help of The Hundred Knight (us), a magically animated doll, trying to stop a very angry Witch called Chelka. This may seem like I have gone into great detail regarding the story, but this all happens in the first 10 minutes which should give you some idea of what to expect from the story. For anyone who played the first in the series or watches a lot of anime, expect a similarly grand and often nonsensical storyline that is both interesting and odd simultaneously, although suffers from some pacing issues.
As mentioned before, players take control of The Hundred Knight, who’s default name is Hunny which I am choosing to use throughout the review so that I don’t have to type ‘The Hundred Knight’ a million times. Hunny is a small doll that can take on a range of different forms, known as facets. The game plays out in 2.5D, not quite top down but close and is essentially a hack and slash with RPG elements throughout. The game borrows in both style and gameplay from titles like Diablo. The maps are separated in a similar way and the idea is to kill everything in sight while picking up better weapons and armour to help with the next dungeon or level in this case. The levels range from short to long and are fairly linear although do allow for some exploration on alternate branching paths that may offer a hidden chest or a stronger enemy that yields greater rewards on defeat. An interesting mechanic is the stomach stock, which is essentially a temporary inventory in which everything that Hunny picks up is stored and cannot be touched until the end of the level. This makes things interesting as you may find yourself with a rare weapon in the stomach stock but a particularly tricky boss in front of you which could potentially stop you from claiming the rewards. If Hunny falls in battle, the stomach stock is lost and due to the drops being random (as far as I could tell), there’s no guarantee that a replay of the level will yield the same rewards.
Dungeon crawling and collecting is pretty standard fare although The Witch and The Hundred Knight 2 has some mechanics that help it feel different from other titles of a similar vein. Firstly, Hunny is not restricted to using one weapon at a time and can have 5 completely different weapons equipped to use simultaneously. To break this down, Hunny has a standard 5 hit combo and each of the ‘hits’ can have one of the 5 different weapon types equipped. This means players can have a sword for the first hit, a lance for the second, a staff for the third, a hammer for the fourth and a spear for the fifth for example. These can be equipped in any order and with any number of each, allowing for a wide range of customization options. Weapons offer more than just a playstyle however, as each weapon is grouped into 3 classes, blunt, slash and magic. The game has a rock-paper-scissors mechanic in which enemies are weaker to a particular weapon style which needs to be taken into account in order to defeat them effectively.
The afore mentioned facets also add to the level of customization dependent on what the player chooses. Each facet has a different style that have particular strengths and weaknesses dependant on the weapons paired with them. As an example, the Power Fortress facet is a tank like role which is strong with hammers and the Marginal Gaze role is weak to melee but excels with magical ranged weapons. Facets must be chosen at the beginning of a level but can be switched out freely while in battle. As the game progresses, Hunny can also summon minions called Tochkas to fight alongside him. Tochkas come in a variety of forms with different uses such as tanking to take the focus away from Hunny, or attacking a group of enemies to dispatch them quickly. As well as the standard combos available, Hunny can use a range of powerful special moves that can be mapped to R1 and a button, but each have a cooldown period and need Adrenaline Points to use. Adrenaline points are one of the many different power gauges that are needed to use all of the powers Hunny is bestowed with. As well as AP, Hunny has a HP bar, pretty standard, a magic bar which when full can be used to go into a kind of overdrive mode, and Gigacalories (GC) which take a bit of explaining.
Most gauges are filled by attacking enemies but Gigacalories work in the opposite way, slowly counting down from 100 as the level progresses. Gigacalories decrease slowly while moving but more quickly if Hunny uses dodges and Hunny is also able to directly burn calories to convert them into health. Calories can be recouped with items or by using ‘Depletura’ which is a special move that is used to absorb an enemy and can be triggered after successfully landing 5 hits in a row. If Hunny’s Gigacalories reach 0, he won’t die but will not be able to use the full arsenal of moves. Lose all HP and all Gigacalories however and you will die and fail the level. The game does throw a lot of different mechanics and gauges at you from the off, but they do work relatively well together and become second nature, although I did find myself looking up a few of the techniques early on to remind myself.
The Witch and The Hundred Knight 2 was developed for the PS4 and the graphics look good for the style, with the colours looking especially vibrant. My experience was with the PS4 slim, but for those with a PS4 Pro, there is an ultra setting if one chooses to use it. There are actually 3 different graphics settings on offer, the lower and middle settings offer a consistent 60 frames per second whereas the ultra setting favours graphics over frame rate. As Sony have yet to send me a shiny new PS4 Pro for reviews, I only had the option of the middle or lower settings, the middle looking sharp and running fine with no slowdown that I could notice, the lower setting however looked noticeably rougher around the edges. In my experience, I’m not sure why you would want to lower the graphics although admittedly, I have yet to explore every corner of the game so perhaps it’s necessary in particularly busy levels. For those with a PS4 Pro, a quick internet search leads me to believe that the drop-in frame rate is noticeable, however I have no first-hand experience to confirm or deny this. As for sound, the voice actors do well with the script, although anyone who has played a similar game will know that the anime-style cut scenes of games of this ilk are always cheesy. The music fits well with each environment and is not so overpowering as to become annoying which can often be the case for similar dungeon crawlers.
Overall, The Witch and The Hundred Knight 2 is a good game that does enough to feel different from similar titles but does nothing particularly ground-breaking either. The story is massively over the top and gets a little lost at times but some of the characters have enough charm for this to be forgiven, especially the mute eponymous hero. Some characters however are particularly annoying and I found myself wishing for their dialogue to be over on more than a few occasions. The gameplay is a lot of fun and the customisation options for play-style is huge, which keeps the fairly repetitive combat from feeling stale as the game progresses. Definitely worth a look if you’re a fan of over the top anime and deep customisation but perhaps a miss for the more casual gamer.
- The characters
- Fun to play
- Massive amount of playstyle options
- The characters
- Nothing ground-breaking
- Pacing issues