The Witch and the Hundred Knight: Revival Edition PS4 Review
The Witch and the Hundred Knight: Revival Edition, besides showing off upgraded graphics for its step up to the PS4, is unfortunately not much of an improvement over the original title The Witch and the Hundred Knight. In fact, the original game hasn’t been at all streamlined or improved upon and combat remains exactly the same monotonous one button attack-dodge-repeat as before. It is the inclusion of the new ‘Tower of Illusion’; a 100 floor tower full of enemies and ‘alchemy’; a way to upgrade weapons, that could be considered new features. Although, even though the Tower allows players to swap in and play as Metallia, the protagonist, every once in a while it is still just more padded levels of boring combat that outstay their welcome fast and is more to what I would consider an endurance test than a challenge.
The story is all about Metallia, the universally despised swamp witch, summoning a demon she calls ‘Hundred Knight’ (you) in order to do her bidding and destroy the shrines that contain her swamp; preventing her from moving about the world freely. As she continues to spread the poisonous swamp, increasing her powers whilst exacting revenge on the witches that have so long mocked her, she also makes a few ‘friends’. It’s from this mishmash of characters that only start off together for convenience sake that she learns about friendship and other clichéd human qualities. It’s a shame that there is so much padding in the story because the main arc and the characters are almost worth trudging through the hours of mindless, repetitive gameplay for. You’re curious to see how it will end, even if some parts are a little more disturbing than they need to be.
Whilst NIS games are often based around a dark comedy motif, there is something about how far Metallia takes things this time that strips all the playfulness away from the story and leaves naught but a bitter taste. I can see the ironic comedy in leaving a dictator powerless and weak, only to be closed in on slowly by their former subservients, but I fail to see any quirkiness in a character who calls someone a ‘vomiting whore’ as they laugh and kick the defenceless creature’s guts in for seemingly no reason. Another ‘cooky catchphrase’ that stands out in my mind is “now all you can hope to do is writhe in agony and die for me” and that was screamed at a creature that had been tasked with guarding, what they believed to be, a holy protection shrine. It’s also terribly unsettling to learn about someone who was literally raped to death only to have the background music switch to the irritating track that just repeats ‘la la la’ shortly thereafter. Dark, hard-hitting experiences can really make you feel through the media of games but when there’s no reason it just comes off as vulgar for the sake of being vulgar.
The gameplay is all about exploring new areas in search of ‘pillars’ to destroy. This is accomplished by running around (as much as the stamina system permits) and uncovering the huge, confusing maps whilst taking on a plethora on enemies, albeit not many different enemy types. The combat is overly simple and consists mostly around the order and types of weapons you have equipped instead of any kind of combos or attack patterns. Basically, there are 5 weapon slots in a set and in combat each tap of the attack button uses each weapon once, in the order they’ve been equipped. Then you’ll probably need to dodge an incoming attack Bayonetta-style for a slowdown at which point you can begin to tap attack again. I personally spent more time in the weapons menu than anything else, as it’s the only thing that challenges you at all. What is the most efficient build? High damage and range are good but each enemy also has a rock-paper-scissors weakness to consider and since all the enemies attack together it becomes much more efficient to have one kick-ass load-out than three separate ones to switch between.
Separate to the annoying stamina system that prevents too much fun being had with fast combos, battles, and easier exploration is the equally, if not more, annoying Gigacal system. It works like this – you are given 100 Gigacals per mission. It costs Gigacals to use stamina (run or fight), it costs Gigacals to heal, it costs Gigacals to play the game. If you run out then your health begins to tick down rapidly and you must rush to the nearest pillar (checkpoint) you can find and either spend some temporary power levels to get some back or failing that you must exit the level and then return, forcing you to sit through two load screens of unforgiving length. There is another method though, a fun one actually, that requires an enemy to be beaten within an inch of its life and consumed. The major flaw with doing this is that it quickly fills up your in-level inventory and these items can’t simply be discarded at will. So the only decent method of continuing to play the game also has its own limit. It begs the question “why are any of these systems necessary?”, they don’t at all improve the experience and in reality completely break immersion.
It’s unfortunate to see something new explored but not working out and becoming the ‘simple but addicting’ gameplay I assume it was meant to be. Instead, these constant nuisances in both gameplay and story are what cause The Witch and the Hundred Knight and the Revival Edition to get comfortable within the realms of stale mediocrity and never budge an inch. When a game is interesting or powerful 40 hours can just fly by, but here I felt every slow minute drag on as I forced myself to continue with little payoff.