One of the best things about niche games is the ability to explore weird ideas and concepts. Maybe you want to make a title about an ancient ninja event that uses water guns or perhaps you’ve always dreamed of playing a romantic game between two girls that involve chocolate, demons and evil organizations. For The Witch and the Hundred Knight, it was an emotional story that utilized a lot of what made Disgaea’s stories great, with a simple combat system. The sequel hopes to expand on this by following a different story, not unlike Disgaea, with a different take on things. Is this enough to make The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2 stand out or will it be forgotten like the first one?
As mentioned above, The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2 is not a direct sequel and simply uses concepts from the previous game to craft a new story. Like the first, witches are viewed as evil creatures, there is a disease, the main witch is deeper than the initial story suggests, with the rest involving new elements or changing existing ones.
The story itself starts with Milm contracting the mysterious witch’s disease and her big sister, Amalie, leaving her village in order to give her treatment. Eventually Milm receives treatment, but dies almost instantly, causing her to awaken as the witch Chelka. Despite her transformation, Amalie finds out Milm is still alive and finds determination to fight this awful disease, with the aid of the hundred knight.
What makes the story stand out isn’t the premise, as much as the willingness to go unwanted places. Characters die, sad things happen and the story does a good job of avoiding black and white definitions. Without revealing too much, it’s the kind that might not appeal to everyone but can be a refreshing change of pace.
Where the story succeeds, the gameplay does not. Combat boils down to attack, magic and dodge, with a small amount of variety in between that. Once players start unlocking facets, which are basically roles, you can build your character. The first one is the most balanced, followed by one devoted to blunt damage, followed by magic, slash and so forth. Every facet also has passive abilities and magic to give them some diversity. However, it makes little difference in actual play.
Outside of specific play styles or the desire to use every attack, most facets have a couple good skills for one reason or another. These include things like a large single blow, dealing a lot of damage to multiple targets quickly, a massive damage AoE and even one where the hundred knight uses a number of punches to mow down enemies. I found most encounters can be completed by using these creatively, even if players don’t use them the intended way.
As for basic attacks, players are stuck with whatever they find and then they have the ability to level it to keep using. This offers a fair amount of variety, especially if you mix and match weapons to fully utilize attack patterns, multipliers and other things but most will likely stick to quick slashes, basic magic and blunt swings. Especially since enemies are designed in a way that encourages bland play styles.
Most enemies, the majority of which seem to be repeats from the previous title, are weak to one of the three and it’s a simple matter of switching to kill them. Most of the difficulty comes from having to level multiple items, something you do by collecting weapons and items from defeated enemies and combing them with the weapon in question, and doing so fast enough to minimize damage. This stuff is best used with perfect dodges, as this slow downs time and makes the Hundred Knight invincible.
Where The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2 is most annoying is difficulty. Outside of golems, simply due to their insane health and high damage, most enemies are relatively simple to defeat. Walking around them, attacking a lot of using a specific attack is often all players need to do to walk away victorious. The same is not true for bosses.
Similar to Criminal Girls 2, bosses rely on cheap mechanics and turn the fights into DPS races. Like, the first couple of bosses were easy, they just summoned a lot of additional enemies and those often overwhelmed me or took my focus off the boss enough to constantly cycle through them or result in me being overwhelmed. Another later boss uses fields that pull you away from the boss, making it hard to get close enough to deal damage. Whatever the mechanic, they get frustrating, if only for the fact they come off as fairly cheap.
The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2 comes down to what is more important to you. As much as I enjoyed the story, it won’t appeal to everyone and takes a fair amount of time to get going. That being said, if story drive titles are your thing and you enjoy Disgaea or things of the like, odds are this will be up your alley. If you’re looking for a new action RPG or hoping for a deeper version of the original, odds are you’ll walk away disappointed. Not because the gameplay is awful, it is just very simple and doesn’t offer much besides story.
[Editor’s Note: The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2 was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]