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Welcome Back to the West
By oneshotstop
Posted on 08/01/16
The only thing that stops the dust is the rain. It’s a sweet reprieve, but there is no middle ground. The land is either as dry as the Betty Ford clinic, or as wet as the ocean floor. Everything can be seen from the ridge overlooking Armadillo as John Marston gently bounces along atop...

The Witch and the Hundred Knight Review

KevinS By:
DEVELOPER Nippon Ichi 
T Contains Blood, Crude Humor, Fantasy Violence, Language, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes

What do these ratings mean?

NISA has had some angry characters before, but holy sh*&!.

NISAmerica games are known for a few things: jokes, silly storylines, and tactical combat (usually on a grid). Strategic, your-turn/my-turn fights might be the publisher's bread and butter, but some of its gamescan also feature action-orientedbashing and smashing. That's the case this time withThe Witch and the Hundred Knight, a delightfully twisted tale featuring the Swamp Witch who would like to save the world with the help of her best friend and familiar, the Hundred Knightwho wants to bring sunshine and rainbows… wait, that's not right, this one’s about revenge and anger and slaughtering the weak. It’s not hard to tell who the bad guy (or girl) is, and it’s definitelynot for the kids to play (even if they might enjoy the idea of bloody vomit and furries).

The real story is thinbut effective: The Swamp Witch Metallia is angry at being forced to live and study her witchiness in the swamp, so she decides to expand her dominionto deal some punishment to the people responsible for putting her there. In actuality, it isn’tclear who did put her in the swamp, but her desire to escape andto deal damage to anybody who might be able to restrain her is. Metallia isn't the type to get her hands dirty, so she summons a stupid familiar named the Hundred Knight to bloody his hands on her behalf. He’s a sort of mute-idiot-savant-slave whosesole reason for living is to wield a variety of weapons, quickly learn a number of tochka (powerful spells), and wipe out the local wildlife.

As the Hundred Knight, you venture out into different areas with the intent to kill anything that moves, locate pillars to spread the swamp and empower Metallia, and kill the protectors of the more important pillars throughouteach section. The controller is fully utilized to give you as many options to attackas possible, but at its core this is a hack-and-slash game. The real depth comes from finding an enemy’s weakness and switching to the right style of weaponry: swords, staffs, hammers, spears, and lances, each with unique stats, strengths, weaknesses, and rare attributes. Like many games by NISA, part of the fun comes from trying to find all of the different weapons.

Combat lets you chooseweapons to use and link combos with, then tasks you with mashing the hell out of the square button to do maximum damage (the patented “Kevin swings until nothing’s left to hit” method). After that,you pressright on the D-pad to open the weapons menu when confronted with anotherbaddie. It’s not cumbersome, but it can interrupt gameplay because there’s no way to easily save a specific weapon set. You have to swap weapons in and out manually, which takes away fromthe otherwise upbeat pace of battle. Why not give me a way to change pre-selected weapon combinations on the fly tokeep the fight going?Instead, slogging through the menus feels like a long time-out.

A free-burning candle tracks your time, meaningyou can run out and fail, but not if youconstantly add more to the wick with swamp-expanding pillars. Different areas of a stage seem to drain the timerfaster or slower. Your timecan be drained ever faster by trading it for a health boost, but even in the early-goings it’s so easy to maintain and practically reset the timer that doing so is unnecessary altogether.

This mechanic feels out of place to me; there are so many checkpoints littering the landscapethat I wanted the game to be portable on PS Vita. That'snot exactly a dig at the title;it's just that you can make a stage last anywhere between ten minutes or mere seconds. You caneven take 45 minutes to really get through a levelin one sitting. If it didn’t take so long to load—even from the PS3 hard disk—this kind of adventure would be perfect for a platform like the Vita.The game's graphicswould fit on the Vita as well. While it’s not a bad-looking game with lush and detailed environments and anime characters, the 3D models are reminiscent of ahigh-end PS2 game's.Had this been released in the early days of the PS3, this might have looked like the best the developer could do with new technology, butin 2014 it looks like a throwback. I had to scratch my head and wonder just what was taking so long to load, because it obviously wasn’t those models.

And wow, this game is dark. The Swamp Witch might well be one of the dirtiest characters I’ve ever encountered in the realm of video games. She’s censoredwith bleeping,alongside the occasional “cut that bitch” and “I’ll kill that filthy whore”. Shedesires to actively and violently murder every charactershe doesn’t like. But this is only a slight detour for the crazy folks at NISA. They work hard to make sure every game hasmany funny quips and jokes, butthis timeitactually droppedmy jaw. You might not see every violent act referencedlike skinning someone alive, but you can hear the venom in everything Metallia says.There’s also a naked/near-naked cursed canine girl (tongue-twister, yes) shown on-screen, constant references to bloody vomit, and… more.

The Witch and the Hundred Knightis not the prettiest thing in the world, though there are some bright spots like the environments. The difficulty is remarkably lowonce you figure out which enemies require which weapon types, butswitching between those weapons is annoying. The load times are atrocious andthe story is about the angriest I’ve seen in any digital experience, which I suppose comes with doing the bidding of the bad guy. The game is still fluid enough to keep my attentionand the NISA writing charm hasn’t yet worn off. It’s not as solid as their tactical stuff, but for a discounted price it’s worth a look. Helping this bitchy witch get some unjustified payback is still a great way to let off some steam.

She’s a crazy, one-woman Tarantino movie. Somebody get this witch some valium or something.

Copy provided by publisher. Exclusively forPS3.

The Witch and the Hundred Knight
  • Easy to pick up and start playing
  • Backgrounds look great
  • ...characters, not as much
  • Battles are fun and fluid
  • ...but changing weapons is irritating
  • Writing is still good, but not great
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Tags:   NIS America, ps3, review

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