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Knights Contract Preview

Mike_Bryant By:
GENRE Action 
PUBLISHER Namco Bandai 
DEVELOPER Game Republic 
M Contains Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language, Nudity

What do these ratings mean?

The black plague was caused by demons.

Medieval Europe was a dark place, full of superstition and fear of the unknown. Surrounded by the mass death and apocalyptic atmosphere brought about by the Black Death, the common people turned to archaic ways of handling their misfortune. Executing women for being witches was one way, if not the most logical. In this cold, dark world of anarchy and destruction is where we find Heinrich Hofmann, protagonist in Knights Contract.

click to enlargeHeinrich Hofmann is your typical knight and witch-hunter roaming Europe and doing what he can to end the Hellish scourge that has descended on humanity. There is something different about him, however. Something mysterious and dark that hangs on his brow, making him as brooding and cold as any incarnation of Marvel’s Wolverine. Heinrich, you see, can’t die. (Yes, Heinrich has muttonchops and a gravely voice as well). The cause of this is a curse brought upon him by a witch he formerly executed, now reincarnated.

How is the game challenging if the main character can’t die? Well, first of all, Heinrich can be knocked out if he is hit too much. He technically dies, and lays motionless on the ground while the player rapidly presses buttons until full revived. (Highlander rules seem to apply to his particular immortality.) The trick to the game is not in keeping Heinrich alive, but the people around him. Gretchin, the aforementioned reincarnated witch, is also out to stop whatever evil plagues the land. Begrudgingly joining forces with the woman who caused his nightmarish curse, Heinrich must make sure that she does not die. This seems to be the central element of the gameplay. One may start to hack away at all enemies in sight, not worried by the harm that befalls Heinrich, only to realize too late that poor Gretchin has been killed due to negligence on the part of the player. This gives the players a reason to not die and have to wait for Heinrich to revive while everyone dies around him.

click to enlargeThe fighting system is fairly simple. Two melee buttons exist, one for weak attack and another for strong attacks. Various combos can be achieved through these buttons. Heinrich uses magic too. While holding down the right trigger, each of the four buttons on the pad become a different magic attack. Each one requires a certain amount of mana to perform, so time is needed to recharge after use. The enemies coming at you seem to be of a typical breed for the Fantasy Action genre, evil monsters and demons, using brute force and dark magic to stop Heinrich from completing his quest.

A lot of the gameplay, from movement to combat, will be very familiar to anyone who has spent time with the Devil May Cry series. Heinrich seems to be a bigger, slower version of Dante who cannot jump or shoot pistols (probably because pistols were not invented yet). Even the dark atmosphere and devilish enemies stink of familiarity. It has yet to be seen, however, what Knights Contract will fully offer the player. Fans of fantasy action games with a dark, gothic feel should definitely check out Knights Contract when it hits stores on February 22, 2011.
More GR previews for this game:
Knights Contract preview posted on 02/04/11.

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