by Nick Cooney
The Knight and the Hundred Knight originally released to little fanfare back in 2014 and received mixed reviews from critics. Fan reception, however, was somewhat more positive and with the recent release of the enhanced PlayStation 4 port, hopes were certainly high for the sequel. Does The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2 improve upon its predecessor and deliver a magic-filled action RPG worth your time, or does it fail to match what made the original a hidden gem?
Featuring a brand-new cast of characters the game already lacks the brilliantly written dialogue of previous protagonist Metallia. Chelka takes on the role of the witch with an attitude in this sequel, although she comes up a little short and less punchy compared to her predecessor. The story follows Amalie a naive, yet caring, older sister who is searching for her missing sister Milm. Fearing the worst, the villagers tell Amalie to forget and move on, unknowing that the worst is yet to come. Milm quickly returns and is immediately recognised to have been infected by the witch disease otherwise known as “Hexensyndrome”.
Forced to leave the village, or kill Milm, Amalie finds herself joining the Weisse Ritter (WR) in the hopes of saving Milm from the witch disease. A year passes and while on a mission for the WR hunting down witches, Amalie anxiously thinks about Milm who’s set to have surgery at that moment. The surgery fails and Milm awakens as the witch Chelka. The awakening, however, appears to be incomplete and Chelka occasionally turns back into Milm. This doesn’t stop Chelka in her pursuit of freedom and Amalie’s vow to save her sister.
As with its predecessor you play as the Hundred Knight, which in this game takes the form of an animated doll of Milm’s given to her by Amalie. As the Hundred Knight, you’re given basic options to interact with the story as it unfolds. This sees you at first obeying Chelka as her manania (familiar) but also obeying Amalie in her attempts to cure Milm. This in itself sets it apart from the first game, if only the story was there to match it.
The dialogue is a little long winded at times and can feel like more of a chore when the story is moving at a snail’s pace. Characters feel very flat as though their physical appearance should be enough to make them interesting. Even Amalie and Milm have little in the way of character backstory, aside from their parents dying at the hands of a witch, making them hard to care about in the early stages of the game. Even Chelka is a weak copy of Metallia and leaves much to be desired as the game unfolds.
Gameplay is mostly the same, reusing the combat and other systems from the first game. While these are enjoyable and have a unique depth to them, it’s a shame not to see more updated features. The combat still remains one of the best aspects of the game if nothing else. One area of the game that has seen a massive overhaul is the maps and unfortunately not in a good way.
The new procedurally generated maps are a far cry from the well thought out and fun explorational adventures of the original game. They lack the same level of charm and generally just feel repetitive. Each section offers little exploration save for a few obvious and lazily hidden in plain sight treasure chests. These paths are nothing more than a linear gauntlet of battles until you reach a welcome save point or cutscene.
Games of this ilk are not known to be graphical powerhouses and nor do they need to be. In typical Nippon Ichi Software fashion, the game features an unmistakable NIS style that really shines through in the character designs. The voice acting is also a highlight of the game. It’s just a shame that the story and characters couldn’t rise to the same level.
One point in the game’s favour is the accessibility. Even without prior knowledge of the previous game it does a good job up easing you into all the features. Unlike the original, however, the enjoyment is unfortunately not at the same level.
The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2 is a decent action RPG with a unique and enjoyable battle system among other interesting mechanics. Unfortunately, the game does little to improve upon what its predecessor managed some four years prior. It does, however, manage to offer a less enjoyable experience while at the same time replacing great features with underwhelming alternatives. The Witch and the Hundred Knight was a largely more enjoyable experience and if you haven’t played it I’d highly recommend doing so before giving this sequel a try.