ReviewsThe Witch and the Hundred Knight Review - 99 Problems but a Witch Ain't OneReviews - RSS 2.0
Developed by Nippon Ichi Software. Published by NIS America. Released March 25, 2014. PS3 only.
While a lot of attention is often directed towards the different trends in JRPGs versus their Western counter-parts, when it comes to JRPGs even they fall into some competing camps. As I see it, there are two broad categories. There are the JRPGs that focus on characters and story, and those that put the bulk of their attention on game mechanics, often to a staggering degree. Seeing as The Witch and The Hundred Knight comes to us from the same studio that gave us the Disgaea series with its infamous maximum character level of 9999, it's no surprise that it falls firmly in the later.
This otherwise fairly standard action-RPG throws a ton of gameplay mechanics, stats and systems at the wall attempting to make something stick. You'll run around, hit monsters, dodge attacks, and collect loot and experience like you've done in a hundred other games. However, on top of that, all these extra bits and pieces in The Witch and The Hundred Knight don't ever come together as a seamless whole as well as other titles have. More often than not you're left with the feeling that it's just extra noise that at best can be simply ignored or at worst unnecessarily clogs up the game.
The central mechanic is Giga Calories, which is a timer, of sorts, on how long you can stay in the field. When you enter a new zone you'll start with 100 Gcals, and every action - including standing idly - will consume them at a certain rate, while hitting zero Gcals will greatly debuff you until you regain some. When everything is going well it can largely be ignored, but it's pretty frustrating to accidentally trigger a boss when you're low on Gcals.
Giga Calories in-turn feeds into a number of the game's other mechanics. Enemies can be consumed once they've been pummeled to a low enough life total to regain Gcals, but eating enemies will fill up your stomach with garbage items. This can be problematic since your stomach is where you'll also store everything you find in the field until you return to base. In order to keep you from simply constantly returning home to unload your stomach and refill Gcals, there are also bonus points to consider. The more bonus points you accumulate, the better items you'll receive at the end of the level. And then additionally there are grade points, which you can use to boost your stats, Gcals or bonus points for that outing.
At times it works together really well, giving you some clever interplay between the dueling mechanics all vying for attention. Attempting to maximize your time and efficiency in the field requires maintaining a careful balance, which can be satisfying to pull off. Other times it feels like the wheels are coming off the bus and the game is unnecessarily fighting with you and punishing you for exploring. If the game had simply stopped here it probably would have been better for it, but there's still more mechanics and systems to account for.
In addition to enemies, there are plenty of other NPCs in the area, The Witch and The Hundred Knight straddles being open world with various villages dotting the zones. Every enemy and NPCs is governed by their Behavior Panel, a triangle that you can view by targeting them. The apexes of each edge are rage, fear and love, each of which will impart certain characteristics and buffs when they reach it. Hitting enemies, for instance, will often push them towards rage, but they will sometimes start to fear and run away from you. I'm honestly struggling to think of the time it really mattered, other than accidentally wailing on a docile NPCs and pissing them off.