The Witch and the Hundred Knight Review: Disgaea-killer this is not
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A hardcore NIS experience for only the hardcore fan. Bad story pacing and tedious combat make this a bore for the laymen fan who is not already drawn in by NIS's humor and charm.
- The raunchy humor that is not afraid to be scandalous
- Character artwork that maintains NIS's standards
- The worst musical score in recent memory for an RPG
- The abundance of cutscenes
- Lackluster story saved only by its humor
Adding to the boredom is -- and I say this with a heavy heart -- the worst soundtrack for an RPG in recent memory. All the music was boring and did not inspire anything but contempt at the drudgery of grinding through the combat and stages. A good soundtrack can make monotonous combat bearable because there are some rocking tunes to fight to, but a bad soundtrack is like a debuff bomb to the face that never expires. One just needs to remember The Suicide Mission theme and you get my point.
NIS, as a company, has been showing its cracks as a storyteller with its last few offerings not named Disgaea. This game is no different. The story is original but it is hampered by slow pacing to the point that Hideo Kojima has been usurped as the king of cutscenes. Every thirty seconds, if not quicker, there was a cut-scene for more dialogue, and not even dialogue of much substance other than random verbal attacks from the Witch against the hero or the situation. For an action-RPG this kills the action instantly, thus ruining the experience like a car stuck in a traffic jam, starting and stopping on constant repeat. I was never drawn into the world or emphasized with the characters to be of the mind to keep going through the story like an addict, desperately wanting to know what happens next.
In combat there are a few things going on other than just mashing square, and those are supposedly added to give the game depth. However, they add to one of the biggest problems the game has: over-complexity. For example, Hundred Knight has a calorie meter that shows his energy level for the stage. It goes down constantly from doing anything, like exploring the map, healing HP, and even swinging his sword. Hundred Knight can consume enemies to replenish it but it is a slow, tedious button mashing process. So what happens when it runs out? Well, not much other than your HP is used instead. Now you’d think this would be a problem, but since you can exit the stage by just finding a pillar, warping back to base to recharge, and warp back to the same pillar, it becomes a useless feature for what it was intended.
The combat system focuses a lot on weapon attributes: slash, blunt, magic. This is one of the most basic kind combat devices in use but alas it is turned into an annoyance. As mentioned earlier, you can chain five weapons; ultimately, while this sounds like a lot, it feels too light with the abundance of enemies that are immune to one or two of the three weapon attributes. This means the player has to do a 2-2-1 mix so they always have a weapon that can damage everything, but playing roulette and wasting time for repeating weapon cycles, or constantly switching equipment all the time for when an immune enemy shows up. Either way it adds to the already tedious nature of the game.
I saw the demo for this game when I was living in Japan last summer and it legitimately had me excited for it. However, once I played it, it became readily apparent that it was just the eye candy of seeing it in Japan that hooked me. If you can get through the tedium of combat and the over-complexity of the menus, then the story can be amusing and fun if it is your kind of humor. But unless you’re a hardcore NIS fan this is not for you. It is not a gateway RPG, but a testament to how hardcore a fanbase can be, and what they will accept.
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