The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2 Review
Let me start by saying I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the original The Witch and the Hundred Knight. Okay, mostly hate. You see, I talked about in my review how much I came to despise the main cast of characters for a variety of reasons. This only got worse as the game went on, leading to a frustrating, almost ludicrously bad ending.
While I also mentioned in that same review how the gameplay was what kept me going, I only look back on my experience with a note of disdain - like I was a little too lenient on it. Perhaps I was caught up in the pressure of covering the game by an embargo deadline, but after I had a good while to think about it, I can’t think of anything of real quality to be found. This is largely due once again to the poor cast.
Which leads us to The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2. Perhaps Nippon Ichi Software had the same connotations I did because this sequel features a completely new cast with an original story that isn’t tied to its predecessor in any fashion. Does it go far enough to wash the bad taste out of my mouth, or does it throw itself into the same pit? Spoilers: it's the latter.
The story begins with a young woman named Amalie who is running around trying to find the whereabouts of her little sister Milm. After being told that she may have been spirited away by the gods, Milm shows up covered in mud, along with a weird cut on her forehead. It turns out it isn’t a cut but rather an eyelid - she has been infected by the Witch Disease.
In an ominous turn of events, once the eye opens, doom falls upon anyone nearby. The last time someone came down with this illness, Amalie and Milm’s parents were killed by the infected person. As you can probably guess, Amalie and Milm only have each other, so they go into exile rather than risk anyone being hurt.
Milm is taken away to a special lab where she is experimented on in order to find a cure for her disease. However, during the operation, her surgery fails. But that isn’t all she wrote, because she suddenly awakens as a full-fledged witch. Not only that, but she uses her favorite doll, which so happens to be the titular Hundred Knight, as an instrument to carry out her bad deeds onto the world.
Much like in the last game, you have some control over the obedience of the Hundred Knight called Self-Assertion. Every so often, someone will either ask a question or order you to do something. You can either answer in the affirmative, question the order, or deny it outright. This will have an impact on how story events unfold and eventually what ending you receive.
Right away, the game falls into the same dark tone the series is known for. The colorful look and Tenpei Sato’s unique compositions (which I personally adore) betrays the underlying themes present.
This brings us to the same issue the previous entry had: too many people and not enough character development. New folks are introduced left and right, but there’s barely time to get to know them before they are either dispatched or unceremoniously pushed to the background.
It also runs into the same brick wall of having little to no likable characters to speak of. Save for Amalie who genuinely cares about the fate of her sister and a few others, they’re all assholes to varying degrees. The Self-Assertion decisions basically amounted to, "Do I also want to be an absolute asshole like most of this lot?" A couple redemptive characters aren't enough to save the plot, sadly.
Not like everything outside of the story is much better. The gameplay is nearly identical to the original. Everything has been carried over, from the GigaCalories gauge to all the UI elements featured in the menus. Some new features include the ability to cap off a combo by landing another hit that will help recover AP (your magic bar) & GigaCalories, and a skill-based system that has you leveling up abilities while assigning them to a hot bar. You will no longer be able to adjust the stats of Hundred Knight, though.
Now we head back to the negative aspects of the gameplay. There's no lock on to speak of; the mobs seem to have less variety than before (most are taken from the first game); almost all the maps are generic due to being randomly generated with bland tilesets; fewer bosses; and overall a much shorter game.
There’s also this weird ocular view going on with the camera where the edges are completely opaque. I don’t know if this was supposed to represent the Witch Eye, but it didn’t always make contextual sense, and it left me feeling a little nauseous the entire time I was playing the game.
Everything in this game just seems so sluggish. Whether it’s navigating the different menus, going from one location to the next, or getting involved in conversations with other characters, I felt myself being dragged down with the way the game has been designed. Where a title like Disgaea is snappy and lively, The Witch and the Hundred 2 progresses slowly. Part of that is also the mood the game is trying to set.
With all that being said, the only real reason you would approach this game is if you played the original is if you were interested in the story and characters.
Otherwise, you’re getting nothing particularly “new” out of the gameplay experience, because what was once novel is now simply eradicated. As a result, I don’t really have the urge to retread the same explanations I gave in my review, so be sure to check that out if you’re curious about the finer details of the mechanics.
I wanted to like The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2 - I really did. I felt that with the decision to go with an entirely new plot and a new cast of characters would help bolster it up well beyond my misgivings for its predecessor, but it simply wasn’t to be. There’s this general stigma around the series I can’t really click with anymore, especially the poor execution and outright refusal to address any of the problems that were evident in the original.
Bottom line - I hated my time with the game. At a certain point, I was simply going through the motions to get from one scene to the next, only to watch a character I was interested in doing something that was either uncomfortable or downright atrocious. You'd probably be better off buying the original game that can be had for half the price - most of this game is just recycled content, anyway.
The only good things I can say about is the designs of the characters themselves and the music, but even that isn’t enough to pull the game up. I was just left feeling disappointed and downright underwhelmed with the final product.
Not only did the uninspired (and downright boring) maps dull my senses, but the glacier pacing left me fighting the urge to take multiple breaks during my coverage. I hate to say it, but you should stay far away from this one - there is very little that is redeeming about The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2.