Special thank you to NIS America for providing Dashing Nerds with a review copy of The Witch and Hundred Knight: Revival Edition!!
When you see a Nippon Ichi title, you know you are in for a wild ride full quirky characters and quality anime art and designs. Witch and the Hundred Knight is large departure from the well known tactical RPG NIS series, Disgaea, Witch has a action-RPG/rogue like gameplay similar to something like a Diablo. Originally released back on the PS3 in March of 2014, Witch and the Hundred Knight Revival Edition is an enhanced port for the PS4, with improved textures and models, along with new gameplay areas and mechanics. But are the new features worth revisiting? What about players picking up the game for the first time? Let’s chat about that.
Swamp, Swamp Everywhere!
In Witch and the Hundred Knight (referred to as Witch going forward), you play as the Hundred Knight, a familiar and slave to the swamp witch Metallia. Seeing that Metallia cannot leave the swamp, you, as Hundred Knight, are tasked by your master to go and spread the swamp throughout the land, thus allowing Metallia to rule (and travel) over the land! At least for her remaining 100 days until she dies. What can I say–she wants to really go out with a bang! Lia, oh crap, I MEAN ME METALLIA, is a cruel witch out for blood, and she has no issues killing and deep frying her enemies to have for dinner.
In order fulfill your mission by spreading the swamp, you must awaken the Pillars of Temperance so they bloom, growing the swamp. Throughout the course of the story, you run into other witches and discover not only the reasons behind Metallia’s inability to travel outside the swamp, but just how an immortal witch could soon meet her end.
!@$@#$ This is Rated T?!
With the Revival Edition of Witch, they have updated and improved the textures, as well as the models in the game. While it doesn’t have the same graphical flare as a PS4 native title, the anime art style is well preserved and displayed, as one could expect from a NIS title. Character portraits retain the style the developer is known for, with *cough cough* exaggerated proportions on the slender female characters and punchy monster designs.
The game adopts a top-down view, similar to other action RPGs in the same vein as Diablo or Torchlight. Throughout the course of the story, you will visit a variety of different regions, each with their own unique look, but they unfortunately feel a bit empty and lacking as you venture through. While it is a bit barren, it does look nice with a storybook-like appearance that reminds me a bit of paintings which is pleasant to look at.
Where this game takes a drastic departure from other NIS titles is in the humor and writing. Even though Witch is rated Teen, Metallia’s personality comes off as incredibly crude and vulgar. Some of her actions outright shocked me and made me stop and re-read the sentence to make sure I didn’t misinterpret it. One example occurs early in the game, after defeating one of the first main bosses, Metallia’s mother. After hurling the term “whore” at mommy a couple dozen times, Metallia turns her into a mouse and then summoned three horny, yes it was specifically mentioned they were “horny,” male mice to go after her so she could have many new siblings. Now other NIS titles, like Disgaea, have their own off brand of humor, but it never really passed over into the “uncomfortable” zone like this game does. For being a Teen game, the idea of joking about what amounts to basically rape (mouse rape or not) seems a bit extreme. With the exception of Metallia, the other characters, like Metallia’s butler Arlecchino, are more on the same level of humor and light-heartedness that you would find and expect from a NIS title such as Disgaea. Crude at times, but still generally amusing and silly.
The soundtrack is traditional NIS fair that does a good job matching the mood of each area, with the unique mixing of instruments and vocals. They do loop, and, as you will be exploring for a while, each track is bound to get stuck in your head, for better or for worse. Gamers that prefer Japanese vocal casts will be happy to know that Witch does allow you to switch the dub of voices to Japanese. I myself didn’t have any issue with the English voice cast during my time in the swamp with Metallia and company.
Easy to Learn, Lots to Master.
The gameplay is where I feel Witch has the most to offer. Witch is action RPG lootfest, complete with all the goodies you can expect games of the genre. There are tons of different weapons and items, a class-esque system called Facets, skills called Tochka, item leveling, and, new to the Revival Edition, an alchemy system to create stronger items. By running around the various levels and slaying monsters, you gain XP for leveling up, items, weapons, and various resources. In order to combat the critters and monsters you face, Hundred Knight can equip 5 different weapons at a time, with 3 sets of weapon racks he can swap through on the fly. Weapons are categorized as one of three types: magic, slash, or blunt. Enemies encountered in your travels will be weak to one of the three options, so creating weapon sets that are specific to a weapon type, or with dealing with a certain enemy, is very much advised. By doing so, you’re rewarded with additional chain bonuses to increase your damage further when equipping similar weapons after each other in the weapon stack. Each time you hit the attack button, it will cycle down to the next weapon on your currently selected weapon stack.
Eventually, you can unlock the different Facets, or classes, which you can also equip and bring with you into stages. You can only choose a few facets to bring with you into each stage, but you can always swap out new ones while back at Metallia’s swamp hut. Each Facet specializes in certain stats and can be leveled up to learn abilities.
In your travels, you’ll also stumble upon small little villages filled with townsfolk. While here, you are able to attack and ransack homes of the villagers, netting you all sorts of items. The downside of doing this though is that it will increase your karma levels, causing shop prices to increase and humans you encounter to attack you on sight.
Where the gameplay takes a bit of a stumble is in the GigaCal system, which relegates you and all of your actions to a bar that is constantly depleting. Once it is out, you’re forced back to Metallia’s hut. When this happens, you also lose the accumulated (since the beginning of the level). You can replenish your supply of GigaCals throughout the level and unlock waypoints (teleportation spots), but the fact that it needs to be monitored contantly is an annoyance when all you are focused on is grinding levels or hunting for gear. Running out of the GigaCals in the middle of the boss fight and having to go all the way back through a level is incredibly aggravating.
Special to the new Revival Edition are the Tower of Illusion and alchemy. If you have played NIS’ other series, Disgaea, you might be familiar with the Item World, which generally works the same way. By offering weapons to the Tower of Illusion, you create a tower filled with enemies whose strength is based on the power of the weapon you offered. By completing the Tower, you’ll get even stronger loot. Once you have this new found loot, or any weapon for that matter, you can use catalysts that you gathered in your adventures through the Tower of Illusion and use the alchemy system to further enhance and power up your weapons!
There’s no doubt Witch and the Hundred Knight is an enjoyable game. When you are actually in a level, killing monsters, finding loot, leveling up, and working on your facets, the game is worthwhile. When you aren’t in the stages and are listening to story dialog, you’ll be itching to get back to the grind. That isn’t to say that the story is bad; it has good twists and interesting characters, but it’s more about the nature of this RPG. The vulgarity and personality of the main character, Metallia, were grating to the dialogue. But the grind and the loot is what will pull you back into Witch and the Hundred Knight, and will keep you playing for hours. It’s that urge to find and craft the next, better piece of gear. I would love to see NIS continue playing around with this genre of title in the years to come, but I just hope next time that the main character is well-written, or returns to the more lighthearted nature of the other NIS games.
- Loot Grind Fest
- Fun Fast Combat
- Visually it is very beautiful
- Metallia's character is hard to tolerate at times
- Barren levels