The Witch and the Hundred Knight is an action RPG brought to us by NIS America who are best known for the excellent Disgaea series. The game stars a witch named Metallica who is renamed to Metallia in the English language version (presumably because James Hetfield likes to sue.) Metallia is the world’s Swamp Witch, which has left her presiding over a smelly marsh for most of her existence with only an automated sarcastic butler for company. When the story begins Metallia has had enough of solitude and decides to venture out to explore the world. As she is unable to leave the confines of the swamp she summons a diminutive familiar known as The Hundred Knight to aid her in her globe trotting aspirations.
Players take control of the aforementioned Hundred Knight and are tasked with scouring the kingdom in search of magical pillars that once activated will spread the borders of Metallia’s swamp. Impeding your progress are all manner of creatures and rival witches who do not wish to have their lands consumed by a stinky bog. If you think Metallia’s goals are somewhat malevolent you would be correct, as much like Disgaea’s Laharl, the game’s leading lady thrives on being wicked. Early levels see her hogtie an innocent princess, leaving her to marinade in a swamp, not to mention an unsettling scene were she transforms an opponent into a rodent moments before unleashing a pack of horny mice upon them.
Game play wise The Witch and the Hundred Knight feels a lot like Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance. For the most part players will spend their time hacking and slashing their way past enemies and collecting the loot their opponents drop. The action is presented from a bird’s eye view, which works well for the most part, although some of the earlier stages can be a pain to traverse as they are set in a forest. Forests by their very nature contain trees so expect their foliage to obstruct your view on a regular basis. Why can’t the vegetation “leaf” me in peace and not hide the beasts I am attacking? At the very least you’d think the developers could have added some transparency effects to the foreground objects to combat this problem.
As far as loot hunting goes The Witch and the Hundred Knight is nowhere near as deep as the likes of Diablo. The strength of the weapons you collect varies depending on their rarity, but for the most part you’ll be upgrading your gear on a regular basis, as each new level contains stronger enemies who drop higher tier weaponry and armour. The arsenal at your disposal includes swords, staves, hammers and lances. Depending on the offensive item you wield your character inflicts slashing, magical or blunt damage. To effectively trounce the hostiles The Hundred Knight will need to swap its equipment to take advantage of its target’s weaknesses. Floral enemies suffer against slashes, golems crumble to blunt and if I was in the game I would be susceptible to weapons that play awful rap music.
In addition to using bog standard weapons The Hundred Knight can also call upon Tochkas to aid him in battle. The Tochkas come in many forms including bombs that can clear out obstructive boulders and giant shurikens that can flip out of reach levers. Hunny Knight (as he is known to his friends) can also summon tiny minions to do his bidding in addition to turrets that fire off magical orbs. Using these powers becomes invaluable when confronting the game’s challenging guardians who for the most part are resistant to damage except during the brief window when they are about to launch a special attack.
One thing that could potentially annoy players is how the game incorporates ideas from rogue likes. Items and experience that you earn are only safely recouped upon a stage’s completion. If The Hundred Knight is vanquished during a level he’ll lose the goodies he found and will earn reduced experience. Another thing to keep in mind is the Gigacal meter that diminishes as you explore an area. Once the Gigacal meter hits zero our knightly hero will start to lose health points, which can potentially lead to death. To reinvigorate its energy stores The Hundred Knight can spend grade points at pillars, munch on cookies or consume weakened enemies. Sounds like the protagonist and I both share healthy appetites. I don’t burn Giga Calories as fast as he does though, but then again I sit on my arse all day whilst the knight aerobically swings heavy weapons on a regular basis.
Upon perusing the net I have discovered that The Witch and the Hundred Knight has received middling to low review scores from other sites. Perhaps NIS America doesn’t have the financial clout to buy off critics like EA and Activision does? Although the game is not without flaws I enjoyed it enough to platinum it. The combat is good fun, the dark humour made me chuckle and the story is deeper than it initially appears. What starts out as a tale of quagmire conquest expands to a fascinating fantasy yarn filled with conspiracies that threaten to engulf the world. My final score for The Witch and the Hundred Knight is five stars. A tad generous perhaps, but I dare not rank it any lower for fear of angering Metallia who may subject me to rodent rape.