There’s a Reason It Takes Place in a Swamp: The Many Mires of “The Witch and the Hundred Knight”

I’m beginning to feel like Danny Glover, or maybe NIS just produces games that are lethal weapons against those who crave “fun” and “progression,” but as I played through The Witch and the Hundred Knight, I realized that perhaps I really was too old for this shit. (And this, after writing about how I’d quit The Guided Fate Paradox, NIS’s previous US release.) “This game puts the mire in admire” is a clever string of words, but also implies that there’s something inherently impressive about The Witch and the Hundred Knight, which as far as I can tell recycles not only the palettes of its exceedingly poor level design (I can’t believe it’s not randomized) but the graphics, which are almost insulting to the PS2, and the annoying soundtrack, which bears far too many similarities to Disgaea, as if to say: “Hey, remember that other, better game that we once made? Here’s a dim echo of those days, enjoy!”

I’m not opposed to grinding–I’ve been having a lot of fun with the aesthetically pleasing Diablo III: Reaper of Souls and the free-to-play Path of Exile–but I’m entirely against overly complicated systems that turn customization into a chore. I mention in my full review for Slant Magazine that I haven’t had to pause so much since 2000’s Vagrant Story, but that’s unfair to Vagrant Story, which only juggled a single weapon at a time (instead of five) and operated under a very fair albeit harsh principles. The Witch and the Hundred Knight, on the other hand, works almost randomly: essential tutorials appear during the loading screens, and not in any discernible order, and while chaining weapons together can be helpful as the game increases in difficulty, this also means that you have to pray that you get not only the right type of weapon–i.e., one that’s strong against an enemy’s blunt, slash, or magic weakness–but the right number of weapon, as stringing together 1->2->3->4->5->1 (in some sequential order) improves everything about your attack.

The game is also filled with useless add-ons: the so-called “physical revelations” that you can get are useful only if you remain in a dungeon for a lengthy amount of time (they reset with each excursion, and are awarded by grinding against enemies), and considering how many times the game crashed on me, I don’t particularly recommend using them for anything other than increasing the bonus rewards you get upon exiting. (Note: the game rewards you when you stop playing it.) Invading the various homes you happen upon is also pretty stupid, especially once you a power that prevents this from raising your karma . . . although karma is fairly banal in of itself, in that you’ll hardly ever need to buy anything from a store (prices go up as you become more disliked), and that it can quickly be accumulated (or reduced) if you’re going for a specific ending. It’s really just a more time-consuming way of opening a treasure chest: sometimes there are reasons why no game has ever featured a certain bit of gameplay, and it seems odd for The Witch and the Hundred Knight to get in the way of its own gameplay. (Sometimes it feels like QWOP: The RPG.)

The Witch and the Hundred Knight fails in the most important aspect of being a game: it’s too much work. Everything else, from the vague nastiness of the main character to the repetitiveness of the gameplay, is beside the point. It has to at least be fun.

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