Developed by Nippon Ichi Software Published by NIS America Reviewed on PlayStation 4
Nippon Ichi Software is at it again with The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2! The original had an interesting fantasy world where powerful witches ran rampant and a tiny but adorable demon knight could take down huge monsters. The interesting story and setting were slightly hampered by repetitive game play and a slight lack of variety in the locales. The team has moved forward to developing the game for the PlayStation 4 right out the gate, but does this guarantee any improvements? Yes and no.
Once again the story and the world are well crafted. Since the setting is only loosely connected to the original, you can jump right in with very minimal knowledge of prior events. Hundred Knight 2 takes place in a new location, Kevala, and centers around two major factions, the Weiss Ritter who are a church like organization and the witches who have awakened. The story begins as Amalie frantically searches for her sister, then finds that her sister has contracted Hexen Syndrome. Hexen Syndrome is considered a death sentence because once contracted, the afflicted person will awaken into as witch via the opening of a third eye. Amalie and her sister Milm rush off to seek help from the Weiss Ritter to be cured. Sadly Milm succumbs to the third eye and reawakens to become a witch known as Chelka. A doll of the Hundred Knight also awakens. It’s likely the same one from the first game, but it’s not particularly relevant either way. Hundred Knight is still really cute and weirdly strong.
In terms of game play, not a huge amount has changed. Hundred Knight 2 is still on a calorie based timer. He can use a small variety of weapons in a chain of five hits, use a move called Depletura to consume his enemies to restore some of his calories, and has three different armors called Facets. Using your weapons effectively with your Facets and getting to use Depletura to get calories back is essential to survival. You’ll also want to keep that count high so you can keep the loot you earn from enemies and chests. You only get to keep them if you return to the base, and being defeated with no calories left means you fail the level and surrender all your findings. The game runs at a very stable 30 FPS on lower settings which has minor dips at the higher visual levels.
When you’re not fighting, you can return to your hub, which is exactly the same as the first one just smaller. You still get all of the functions, the ability to level up your gear, set your Facets, and an item shop. I was a little miffed when I realized ¾ of the way through the item shop is at the hub. There is legitimately nothing that indicates that and it’s a little upsetting that I could have taken advantage of this early on if it was made just a bit more apparent. Fortunately this space is quickly accessed through the menus though because it means you can hit the road again fairly quickly. This is another small blessing because it lets players get back to the story.
The game’s 30 hour campaign is enjoyable, despite the repetitive nature of the game play and the visual novel style of storytelling. These segments moves at a decent clip and everyone is well written and designed. The writing is a bit better here compared to the first game and the characters are more enjoyable. Didn’t quite like Chelka as much as Metallia but she grew on me. I’m still a bit put off by Chelka’s clothing design wise but she’s still fine as a character. The start of the campaign gives you just enough info to get the gist of the world and expands as it goes. Thankfully the amount of actual exposition is limited and a lot is actually done through character interactions and events. This includes exploration of what make the witches tick, why the Weiss Ritter are so eager to exterminate them, and how the balances of power could suddenly become so lopsided. There’s not much in terms of story twists but what’s there is entertaining enough and it’s a bit faster paced than the original. The Hundred Knight 2 is also better in the sound department.
One of the highlights of the original was its voice acting and sound track. The English voice tracks are done well enough with the major characters so I never felt the need to switch to the Japanese audio. It is it is available if you prefer that, however. None of the actors feel miscast and the consistency of term pronunciation is consistent so it gets the job done well. I also feel that Tenpei Sato’s returning compositions are superior. The tracks are more memorable this go around and I’ll be looking for the soundtrack separately. The music that accompanied each area made the limited amount of grinding needed for extra materials and weapons a rather relaxing experience.
Ultimately, Hundred Knight 2 biggest improvement is the story and how it’s delivered. The combat is a bit snappier because of the steady frame rate and the mix and match weapons system. Everything else is more or less the same, so if you liked the first game this will be a good buy for you.