The Witch and the Hundred Knight: A NIS Game Through And Through

By Thomas . March 20, 2014 . 5:32pm

The Witch and the Hundred Knight is the latest release from NIS, and in some ways, a departure from their usual fare. Gone are long, strategic turn-based battles. The 2D sprites that the company has been known for in recent years are nowhere to be found either. Instead, The Witch and the Hundred Knight ends up being something different entirely, playing more like a dungeon crawler and looking more like Diablo than a NIS title. But don’t let that fool you into thinking that Hundred Knight isn’t a NIS game.

 

Awakening in the darkness, a creature—the player—is asked his or her name by a cocky voice. After entering your name in, the voice will disregard what you’ve said and name you the Hundred Knight anyway.  You then wander through this darkness, learning the basics of combat, all the while as the voice speaks to you. Once you reach the end and make it out, you discover the owner of that voice, Lia.  Or as she likes to be called, “Me – tal –lia!” Or even better yet, “The Great Swamp Witch Metallia”.

 

Metallia is a witch, one of many that exist in this world. She has spent her whole life in her swamp, and never leaves it. In fact, it seems like she may or may not even be capable of leaving her swamp. Her claim, however, is that she just doesn’t like non-swamp lands, is all.

 

 

This is where Hundred Knight comes in. He is supposedly a legendary familiar, the most powerful in all history, said to have the strength of a demon. Aaaaaand yet, he’s a cute little guy that’s as dumb as a sack of rocks. Turns out, he’s still developing and will gain intelligence through his time with Metallia. After the initial entry levels of the game, Hundred Knight begins to slowly develop a consciousness of his own, and the players can then reply to Metallia’s request with a Yes, No, Ignore, and Question option. Hundred Knight’s main mission is to destroy magic pillars all around the land. Doing so releases their power and covers that land in swamp, allowing Metallia to enter it.

 

Being a dungeon crawler, the player traverses these lands, trying to reach the pillar at the end. Each pillar has its own guardian that is enchanted with the pillar’s magic power in order to protect it. Getting all the way to the end and beating this guardian will usually result in a long cut-scene where Metallia finally appears again and often dukes it out with another witch of the land that you are invading.

 

Hundred Knight is bound to Metallia and cannot live without her. If he leaves her side for too long, he will perish. Because of this, the game employs the GigaCals system. As you map out your way in the dungeons, your GigaCals will diminish and whenever your stamina bar is refilled it eats away at your GigaCals as well. Running and fighting use up stamina, so between trying to 100% a dungeon map, and fighting off the many enemies in said dungeon, your GigaCals will go quickly.

 

Luckily, NIS throws you a bone and offers three ways to conserve your GigaCals. First, land that is once mapped will not eat up your GigaCals as quickly. Second, Hundred Knight is able to eat some enemies in order to restore a portion of his GigaCals. And lastly, and most importantly, the game offers waypoints. While your main goal is a giant pillar at the end, each dungeon has smaller pillars. By reaching a smaller pillar, you can set it as your next spawn point for when you return, teleport from it to any other small pillar you’ve found in that dungeon, and allocate your experience points you’ve gained in the dungeon.

 

All of this makes managing the dungeons in the game much more bearable, but the GigaCals system still does limit the player. While not necessarily bad per se— it isn’t too uncommon in dungeon crawls four your character to need feeding or rest and such—it still may rub some players the wrong way. Progress is not too hard to make, but you have to work for it. This is an investment, you can’t just rush to the end of a dungeon—the point is surviving, and playing smart. But when you finally do clear that map 100%, it’s a great feeling.

 

Likewise, the combat is pretty fun. Hundred Knight can equip five weapons at once, and there are many different varieties of weapons. The spear is weaker but its attack range spans a wide arc and can take on multiple enemies. The hammer is slow but does more damage. Swords are well balanced, lances are strong but only thrust forward and are harder to land hits with, and staves can inflict mid-range magic damage. With all this, you can create a wide range of attack combination patterns. For example: slash all around you with your spear, then thrust forward with your lance, and administer the finishing power blow with your hammer. There are lots of combinations to be had, and a flurry of five different types of attacks in a row makes for some interesting strategies. There’s plenty to customize with, and the weapon system has a combo-esque nature to it. Typical of NIS games, you can really tweak all this stuff until your eyes bleed.

 

The enemies are varied enough to keep thing interesting, although not too complex. It can be a bit of a grind when you play the game for long sessions. Switching out to different weapon types can keep things interesting, as certain enemies are immune to certain types of attacks. Enemies that were only weak to magic usually threw a wrench into my typical battle strategy and I would need to redo my equipment set-up.

 

However, the true monotony-breaker are the bosses. Between huge monsters that can’t fit on the entire screen, quick and nimble spell casters, and bulls with wheels that will run you down like a tank, there’s a lot going on. Boss fights are hectic, and all kinds of fun. You need to learn their attack patterns, and the dodging mechanic really comes into play here. If you time your dodge just right with X, you can slow down time and land lots of hits on the enemy.

 

Bosses don’t just have a health bar to worry about, though; they also have a bar for guarding. Attacking a boss like a regular enemy will not get you very far. You have to time your attacks just right when their guard bar is low. Now the guard bar doesn’t work like a standard health or magic bar in most games. It constantly fluctuates between empty and full, and you need to time your attacks to hit the boss when the bar is at just the right spot, the lower the better. Oftentimes the bar is at the lowest when the boss goes to do a killer attack, so it’s a high-risk-high-reward type situation.

 

If that sounds like too much, at the cost of draining your GigaCals and your AP gauge, you can always greatly increase Hundred Knight’s strength to plow through enemies with Chaos Revelation. Pressing L1 + Triangle will allow you to go into a super mode, your strength will greatly increase and you can smash through your enemies’ defenses. However, once you enter this mode you cannot exit it until your GigaCals reach zero or you leave the dungeon. It should only be used as a last ditch effort.

 

Ultimately, while not being an SRPG, The Witch and the Hundred Knight plays and feels just like an NIS game. The usual character designs from Takehito Harada, and the usual compositions from Tenpei Sato really does help to give it an NIS feel.

 

The same humor is present, if not more so. The Witch and the Hundred Knight has an incredibly dark sense of humor, at times borderline morbid. Disgaea has its darker jokes, but this game just cranks it up to eleven. Metallia makes Laharl look like a little goody two-shoes choirboy by comparison. She is mean, heartless, and dishes out some pretty twisted punishments. Not to mention incredibly foul-mouthed. I think I’ve seen less swearing in Grand Theft Auto games. Metallia isn’t afraid to drop F-Bombs ether, although NISA censors the written dialogue when she does, and puts in a bleep sound effect over her actress.

 

I like to think of myself as not too much of a prude, but there were some moments that just did not sit right with me. I understand it’s done mostly for comedic effect, and while I got the joke, I really couldn’t laugh at some of these more twisted moments. That’s not to say there weren’t some funny moments though, and overall I did enjoy most of the jokes, but some of them I personally couldn’t find enjoyment in. Dark comedy is a pretty apt description for this story.

 

There’s an interesting cast of characters that surround Metallia and Hundred Knight, and they help to later balance things out. Karma does seem to come around and bite Metallia every now and again too. So, the game is by no means cruel or vicious. One of my favorite cast members so far has been Visco, or as Metallia likes to call her, “Dog Princess”. She’s essentially a do-gooder Knight who was cursed to look like a dog. Her presence helps to level out the dark humor, as does Metallia’s deadpan butler and servant Arlecchino.

 

The Witch and the Hundred Knight is an interesting title from NIS. In one sense it’s something different from them, while in another sense it’s really the same old thing. Being a dungeon crawler makes it a change of pace from their usual Disgaea games, but at its core the game offers the large amount of customization the company is known for, repetitive and time consuming game play that inevitably comes with the grind, their signature twisted humor, and familiar music and art. It’s not perfect, and NIS has made some better dungeon-crawling games and roguelike titles in the past, but the game is still tons of fun once you get into the swing of things, and offered a world that I felt was more interesting then the usual settings typically seen in NIS titles.

 

Food for Thought:

 

1. Playing as Hundred Knight really made me feel as if I was a Prinny in the Disgaea universe. Not too surprisingly, the same team behind the two Prinny PSP games made The Witch and the Hundred Knight.

 

2. At the end of each chapter in the game, an actual credits roll happens like you just finished an episode of an anime.

 

3. Hundred Knight speaks in these cutesy grunts, and I swear he almost sounds identical to Nintendo’s Kirby.


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  • Testsubject909

    Undo… the restraints?

    Why would I?

  • DesmaX

    Metallia isn’t afraid to drop F-Bombs ether, although NISA censors the written dialogue when she does

    The F-Bombs are censored in the Japanese version too; It was part of NIS design. Just a small tip before anyone comes here to complain.

    Anyway, I’m kinda baffled that this is doing pretty poor in reviews (And it kinda makes me wonder if Drakengard 3 will meet the same fate). But it seems you just need to play it long enough for it to get good.

    Still have this pre-ordered

    • Pdugna

      What isn’t she afraid to do?

    • http://linkapics.tumblr.com/ Linka

      I just looked up the general review score of this, and yeah, for instance, IGN gave it a 5.8 (so average.), but the community gives it an 8, which sounds more in line with things. Reading the review, it sounds like the guy who did it just didn’t like the characters, and found the system “pointless”.

      Of course, reading through some comments, a lot of people don’t buy into the review, and find it opinionated– and that there’s a heavy bias against most JRPGs of this vein regardless on the site.

      I’d probably give it more time, so that way people who wanna do in-depth reviews can do it. I’d imagine it’s average rating might go up a bit.

      • Zero_Destiny

        I read through the IGN review as well, and thought Vince made some all right points. I agreed on some of them in my write up too, but over all, it felt like he missed the point of the game.

        He kept talking about wanting fast paced action, and hating the GigaCal system, which to me just seemed like he wasn’t on the same page, and expected the game to be something totally different from what it actually is, right out of the get go.

        So his disappointment, I can sorta get, probably not really so much bias as missed place expectations, but it felt like he might of just not been in the right frame of mind for this game, ether. I had my fun with it, even if it’s not perfect. ^^;;

        • http://linkapics.tumblr.com/ Linka

          While that might be right, there are still some biases that are pretty obvious– and really, the fact that he went into it expecting fast-paced action is one of them, and it did hurt the review overall.

          I can understand though wanting to expect something and then being disappointed, but it does set a bad standard for which people will take the game as. Not gonna say the game is gonna get super favorable reviews, at least not without getting my hands on it myself, but from what I’ve been able to see and read, I think a 7.5-ish score would’ve been a little more fair.

          • Zero_Destiny

            Yeah, I don’t particularly care to give scores to my writing any more, but I felt 5.8 was waaay too off. I was actually surprised to see the lower scores after playing the game for about a whole night straight into the morning.

            I had lots of fun and figured it would do favorable, then when I looked it up to see what the others were writing, and I saw those scores. ;’D

            It probably does say a lot, that a reviewer can come into a project not even really properly knowing what kind of genre it will be, and really I know I personally try to do some research before I begin my review sessions, and I’m pretty small time at this stuff, so yeah. >___< The last thing I want to express is a big "screw you" to the guys, but totally agree that they really didn't handle this game all that well.

          • http://linkapics.tumblr.com/ Linka

            Honestly, I’m of the opinion that the sooner reviewers do away with scores, the better. There’s been a lot of problems cropping up when it comes to it (added onto the fact that companies have an unhealthy attachment to metacritic averages, ew.), so it’s nice to hear that you don’t care to add scores anymore overall.

          • DesmaX

            BUT THEN THEY WOULD NEED TO READ THE REVIEW

          • http://linkapics.tumblr.com/ Linka

            oh god no, the horrors of HORRORS

          • Zero_Destiny

            I think they have their place, and can do some good, but for all the good comes bad too. You walk a very fine line between convenience for your audience, and laziness. I suppose the big question is how to keep their attention, and I think video reviews of late have helped in that regard to some extent.

            That’s all just my own personal thoughts though. I prefer the more robust approach of not using them. ^^

        • chibidw

          The thing is, Vince has an enormous reputation for being incredibly biased against JRPGs. If you want a more balanced review, you have to look at the JRPGs that *aren’t* reviewed by Vince.

          Which is difficult though, because he seems to have a hardon for making it a point to get a hold of JRPGs so he can hate on them.

        • Pyrofrost

          This is kinda following up on all of your post in this thread, especially the point your made in your last post here “lazyness.”

          I personally have not went around checking out and reading reviews for this one yet. I generally do that once I’m deep into a game, or have already finished. However, I really feel that many reviewers lazily review JRPGs (ie: they barely, if at all, play them). It’s probably a combination of things, such as: they not liking JRPGs themselves, their readership, the amount of games they have to review, the length, and etc.

          So they throw it in, and play for 2~4 hours, do some quick research on the game online; then type up some half-assed review and slap on a score.

          That’s simply the impression I’m left with often times when I read a JRPG review; compared to a review for a game that is much shorter, and/or more Western.

        • SaiyanJedi_Trunks

          First I want to say you did a fantastic review and gave some thorough information as well as an understanding of the genre.

          As for Vince, I tend to find with him and other reviewers of late, going into a game “expecting” the game to do what they want and when it does not come to pass it turns into a negative. Using words like “repetitive, boring, out of place etc.” for a game’s description that has a specific tone and development but ignoring the fact that said game is developed to be that way.

          I also agree with the conversations you stated about review scores as I feel it is unhealthy to the industry and such banter arises out of them…yes from companies but also some ridiculous fanboy wars between consoles.

      • Zer0faith

        To be fair though this is the guy who gave a 9.1 to Disgaea D2, one of the few guys on that site that are JRPG savvy and enjoy them. So his points may have truth to them although the only true and tried way to tell if you will like it is to play it yourself of course.

        • http://linkapics.tumblr.com/ Linka

          So on one hand, he gave a high rating to DD2, but apparently gives pretty biased reviews towards JRPGs overall…? Though maybe it can be explained that when you go into Disgaea by now, you sure know what you’re getting into.

      • Kai2591

        IGN? hah! I don’t trust those biased big shot game review sites when it comes to Japanese games. They don’t get the point.
        They only understand things like call of duty har har~

    • http://www.mrtiredmedia.com/ NickyD

      Thank you for making sure to clear that up. We just matched what they did in the Japanese release.

    • Card

      I think Drakengard 3 will meet a similar fate just because it’s story is so out there, and it also depends on if they actually fix the game. I imported it and the framerate got really bad, I mean not just a snobbish oh this a noticeable slowdown, I mean it took an absolute plunge in some places. They’ve since added two patches since release but I haven’t played since they’ve been added.

  • SlickRoach

    Can’t wait for my LE version to come in the mail. My body is ready for some Metallica.

  • Learii

    is Visco naked? o_o

    • Testsubject909

      She is clearly wearing ropes.

      • Learii

        I mean without the ropes

        • Anewme…Again

          We are also naked without cloths.

          • Crimson_Cloud

            Some more then others XD

  • http://youtube.com/miyabigaming 禍津水樹 (MagatsuMizuki)

    Ended up cancelling my pre-order for this but may get it later

  • Kumiko Akimoto

    It still looks weird to me

  • doubleO7

    I’ve got the fancy-pants LE on preorder. Can’t wait for it to get here, although I have to admit, I don’t play many games in this genre. For $75 I sure hope I don’t regret it!

  • Kornelious

    They’re are already reviews out for this?! It’s not even the week of it’s release! X(
    I still look forward to my awesome Limited Edition though :)

  • Nitraion

    When i saw picture about oversized dog girl in bondage ropes….
    I’m like “WUT?!!”
    What ESRB rated this game?

  • Slickyslacker

    Even after thoroughly parsing this review, I’m honestly unsure of what to anticipate. I haven’t many NIS titles upon my gaming career’s annals, and as Disgaea doesn’t interest me, I’m not wholly versed in the kind of writing that series is possessive of. Based on the artwork and general information I’ve accumulated, I’ve formed a kind of disposition.

    No matter where I’ve read up about this game, I’ve consistently observed the game’s plot and – in most respects, humor – lauded highly. This, and even the semi-deformed style of character models in the game, reminds me greatly of Little King’s Story, one of my all-time favorite games. The diminutive king’s earnest quest to conquer the known world was (and still is) infinitely endearing to me. Needless to say, this isn’t about LKS – I just wanted to parallel it to this game. I hope that the Hundred Knight’s tale of servitude under his fastidious master is just as majestic.

    “Fast-paced action” appears to be just what this game delivers, however, accompanied by all of the dimensions of customization that one would expect from an RPG. Perhaps not action of the FPS variety, but surely action notwithstanding.

    I’m patiently waiting for the shipping confirmation email of my Limited Edition.

  • laurenhiya21

    Argh, I can’t wait to play this so bad but I don’t even own a PS3 ;-; (and of course I ordered the LE even if I can’t play it…)

    It doesn’t help that I’ve seen such differing opinions on it so far… I don’t reallyy trust the IGN review as much, but I still want to see how good/bad it is for myself.

  • Callonia

    The more I read about The witch and the hundred knights the more I want to play Metallica.

  • Göran Isacson

    Interesting. An action game that limits the time you can go out and do action-y things is a novel idea, but the thing that catches my eye is the “guard meter”. Is itt a meter that can be affected by time spent in the fight or attacks towards the meter itself, or is it more of a “visualisation” of the particular point in a boss animation that they’re vulnerable? Like, does it go up and down depending on what move the boss is pulling off to show viewers who may not be very used to action games that “when the boss does this he is vulnerable”, or is it a meter that the player themselves can affect through THEIR actions?

  • Eric Harris

    I canceled my LE personally I love the art while the characters are talking to eachother, as in all NIS games. But the gameplay and art while actually playing just looked too mediocre to me. For one, I really don’t like the look and feel of the “knight”. Would have prefered to go out there as the witch.

  • Ultimaniacx4

    I wasn’t really paying attention to this game at all but all the information in this article literally just convinced me to buy it.

  • Ståle Laastad

    Hmm, this is the first NIS game that I don’t instant buy in a while, but it really seems mediocre, I hope I am wrong though

  • darke

    … Sony wouldn’t let me buy/preorder Infamous Second Son digitally until the day of release, so I ended up getting a physical copy; but of course for *this* game, where the digital price is $15 more then I could buy a physical one for, they release the digital purchase 5 days before I can buy a physical one.

    PSN’s marketing area seems to be simultaneously utterly-incompetent, and sneakily-conniving at the same time. :(

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