Hundred Knight 2 Is a Hack and Slash Romp With a NIS Flavor
Nippon Ichi Software is mostly known for developing turn-based strategy RPGs rife with humor. However, they took everyone by surprise in 2014 when The Witch and the Hundred Knight was released in the United States. Unlike the aforementioned previous style of game, this title was an action RPG that removed much of the humor and replaced it with a rather dark and harsh story. While there was much potential to be found in the title, it didn’t quite reach the heights of its older siblings in the public eye. Now, four years to the day of the first game’s release, The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2 releases on Playstation 4. And while some things unfortunately remain the same, a number of positive tweaks have come along to show that NIS has taken some notes since the original.
Most important to note, this entry has a fresh story so there’s no need to have played the original Witch and the Hundred Knight in order to appreciate it. The story begins in a small village where a young woman named Amalie is worrying over the whereabouts of her missing sister, Milm. Eventually, she returns home much to relief of the villagers. This relief is short-lived as she brings with her symptoms of the much-feared “Witch Disease.” In this world, witch disease results in the patient losing their identity and becoming an all-powerful and cruel awakened witch. Amalie and Milm are banished from the village and are left wandering the world to fend for their own survival. One year later, Amalie ends up working for the world’s witch hunting organization whereas Milm, having succumbed to the witch disease during a failed treatment, awakens as the witch, Chelka. You, as the player, take control of the doll which was brought to life by Chelka named Hundred Knight to do her bidding.
A Wide Wonderful World to Explore
Unlike the previous game’s stage structure, this sequel provides the player with a large world map broken up into grid squares to traverse. Each square represents one randomly generated environment and, as the story unfolds, you’ll explore different sections of it with the world becoming more and more accessible as progress is made. While the regions themselves remain the same, each respective tile loads up a randomly generated environment. In addition, every few map segments houses a waypoint that can be accessed and warped to from any others that have been found. This results in Hundred Knight 2 focusing, not on completing map percentages, but rather on reaching your destination and pummeling whatever foes stand between you and it. Foes on the road are never in short supply and, fortunately, combating them is a great deal of fun here!
The Witch and the Hundred Knight’s combat system consists of linking up to five attacks in succession to form an attack combo. Each step in the combo is made up of a unique weapon that can be equipped to that combo slot. There are five weapon types in this game including quick striking swords, slow hulking hammers, and magic blasting staffs. Each of these weapon types perform differently and possess one of three attack types: Slash, Blunt and Magic. Through the use of item fusion, these weapons can be further enhanced to increase their strength or to add status ailment damage. Each of the game’s respective enemies can take more or less damage from any of these attack types and ailments based on their resistances to them. Thus, much of the gameplay revolves around chaining together an optimal string of weapons to best deal with the enemies that are being encountered. Hundred Knight has varying levels of proficiency for each weapon with some dealing more damage than others. Fortunately, in addition to the use of equippable accessories, these proficiencies can be changed through the use of the game’s Facet Change system.
Every Witch Way to Eviscerate
Facet Change is a system in which Hundred Knight takes on one of six new physical appearances. This fresh look comes with new proficiency specs for weapons and defense equipment. In addition, each facet can have its own personalized set of weapons, armor, skills, and accessories equipped so you can tailor it to best make use of its strengths. Up to three facets can be equipped to the player at one time and they can be freely switched with the press of a button. This provides you with a variety of combat options making it easier to handle any battle situation that may arise. Worth noting here is that, while the first game had facets level up independently, this game has done away with that in favor of one experience track.
As a new feature to Hundred Knight 2, facets now also come with a series of five unique active skills and two passive abilities. Active skills are unique attacks and abilities that can be equipped and then activated by pressing R2 along with its corresponding face button. Each active skill requires a cooldown period and ability points when can be regained attacking enemies, item usage, and Depletura; which I’ll explain later. While some are more useful than others, it is still fun to mix and match unique battle skills to each facet. Passive skills on the other hand, are perks that work for Hundred Knight so long as they have been learned and he is currently using that facet.
For when you want a little interchangeable variety in your special attack options, tochkas make a return from the first game. Tochka are equippable totem creatures that provide additional unique attacks to Hundred Knight and can be acquired at different points in the game. Unlike active skills, which use AP, these little guys utilize tochka points and you can have out as many as Hundred Knight’s allotted points and respective tochka limitations will allow. These can be equipped across any facets as well which can make for some pretty fun battle strategies.
Mayhem Is On The Menu
As Hundred Knight is whipping around unleashing mayhem on the battlefield, he will slowly lose GigaCals and if they run out, he’ll go into a weakened battle state and eventually die. To combat this, and to replenish AP, you will need to have him eat his opponents using Depletura. Depletura is a sixth attack that can be manually activated after successfully landing the fifth blow. If the attack’s damage is enough to finish the enemy off, Hundred Knight will eat them and regain GigaCals related to the size of the monster. Whenever his HP is depleted, you will respawn at the beginning of the area, sans some of your items, and take a loss of GCals as well. Due to the existence of waypoints that can warp you back to safety, this is rarely a major a major issue on the battlefield as long as you make smart use of Depletura. However, boss battles can be quite lengthy depending on your strength and may result in you scrambling to consume small fry that may occasionally be summoned during the skirmish.
Rife With Repetition
For all that I mentioned above describing the combat and gameplay systems, you would think that I really enjoyed the battle system. And you would be correct in that assumption. However, I would have also enjoyed it a lot more if there was more variety in the enemy mobs. Early on you find yourself fighting the same enemies and, as you progress, the game will occasionally trickle out some new enemies. But even twenty five hours into the game, you’ll still find yourself fighting the same enemies that you fought in the first hour in a number of areas with the only difference between the level next to their health bar. Battling and balancing between attack types with foes makes for fun times but variety is the spice of life so it would have been good to have more diversity in your adversaries so that no one wears out their welcome. Fortunately the boss battles, largely thanks to the wonderful music score of the underappreciated Tenpei Sato, are a frenetic good time as you work out a strategy to engage these fresh faces.
Furthermore, even though I found the environments to be nice to look at, they also remain overly repetitive. During the first ten hours into my experience with the game, the majority of them were spent traversing the Misty Forest environment. And since each area is randomly generated, they also quickly stop being fun to explore. This resulted in me fighting enemies til I got sick of the tiles and then trying to run past a lot of combat just to push towards the next scene in hopes of it being a different location. I suppose that developers feel that random dungeon generation means that the player gets infinite exploration experiences but I personally feel that it cheapens the sense of exploration and causes the overall experience to suffer. The random dungeons coupled with spending too much time in one area made for a one-two punch of frustration to the brain.
A Colorful Cast of Characters Make For A Sound Journey
Fortunately, I did enjoy the combat but the other thing that kept me wanting to continue to play through the game was the story and the characters. Throughout my journey, I came to really like seeing the interactions between Amalie, Chelka, Hundred Knight, and other characters that show up. My favorite of which being HunninMuginn, a drag queen raven that always managed to make for great and humorous banter while on the screen. While there is definitely some heavy stuff taking place during the game, it is overall a much lighter experience than the first game was. So, the deep dark evil of Chelka’s character ends up being balanced out by the supporting cast and the absolutely adorable Hundred Knight. I really wish that this game would become popular enough to result in a HK doll being produced because I officially want one!
A Knight to Remember
The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2 made for an enjoyable ride in spite of some detriments. If you are a fan of the Nippon Ichi Software catalog of games then there is a great chance that you’ll find enjoyment in this title. Managing your equipment, clobbering one more “Quick Boisterous Golem” and seeing the next step in the story is a flow that kept me occupied for a good number of quality hours. If you are looking for a fun action RPG to fill some time in your day, I think that you would be able to find some fun in having a nice hammer-tenderized meal with your new friend, Hundred Knight.
Final Verdict: 3/5
Available on: Playstation 4 (Reviewed) ; Publisher: Nippon Ichi Software ; Developer: Nippon Ichi Software; Players: 1 ; Released: March 27, 2018 ; ESRB: T for Teen ; MSRP: $49.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a copy of The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2 provided to Hey Poor Player by the publisher.