Slick’s Nit-Picks: The Witch and the Hundred Knight: Revival Edition
The Witch and the Hundred Knight was a PlayStation 3 exclusive originally released in 2013 (2014 in North America). The titular witch of the story actually made her first appearance a few months before her game came out. She was a monster encounter in Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness. A bit more random trivia is that you always see her name written as Metallia, but if you played with the Japanese dialogue, she makes sure to tell you that it is “Metallica.” In localizing the game, NIS America most likely wanted to avoid any trouble with the popular heavy metal band. Poor Metallia’s life is just surrounded in lies (oops, spoiler alert). Anyway, fans loved the game except for the issue of it randomly stopping and kicking them back to the PS3 XMB. This was an issue that plagued most if not all players in North America that greatly reduced their enjoyment of a title they wanted to love. Obviously, the first thing we want to explore in The Witch and the Hundred Knight: Revival Edition is how well it works. Once establishing that the previous nightmare is over, we will look at what is different in this version.
METALLIA IN THE MIRROR The story of The Witch and the Hundred Knight was weird initially and the Revival Edition is even more so. I am not saying that to condemn the game, just noting that the story is slightly abstract. Metallia, like any good Japanese-designed female, is a top-heavy girl that looks like she is in high school. In fact, she is a one hundred year old swamp witch that wants the rest of the witches to recognize her as the greatest. She lso wants to expand her domain across the entire world. In her hundred years, she has not accomplished this because her nemesis, Malia, has locked her in a stalemate the entire time. Now that one hundred years have passed, Metallia now only has one hundred days left to live and has chosen to seek the help of the Hundred Knight to end the stalemate. Having summoned him and gained his obedience through contract, this mystical being (you) will do her bidding and help her subjugate the world. First things first: she wants Malia's head.
Back in 2013, this would be our story. However, this is called the Revival Edition and Nippon Ichi Software wanted to give players a little something extra.
Once you have completed your primary objective, you can continue with the game or you can take a detour and explore the Tower of Illusion. Now this is not in the original game and the tower is not located in the original world you started in. What transpires as you approach the tower door is going to feel oddly familiar as a girl you completely recognize but do not seem to know forms a contract with you and names you the “Hundred Knight.” You must fight your way to the top of the tower in order to allow “Lia” to get her wish granted. Entrance to the tower requires the sacrifice of one weapon; the better the weapon, the more powerful the enemies and the better the loot. In that sense, playing through the tower can enhance the main game and vice versa. Batle your way to the top to unlock the full story of this new chapter.
A LOT TO STOMACH The Hundred Knight is the only character you control in the main story. Playing as Metallia is a bonus if you play in the Tower of Illusion. This means that most of your time will be spent listening to his incoherent grunts and whimpers. I really wish HK could talk but he makes up for it with his ability to whoop some ass. The Witch and the Hundred Knight is easy to pick up and play, but it can take some time to master due to the intricacy of the system. Of course there is the battle system, which consists primarily of hitting square. Enemies are not going to just sit there and take punishment. To avoid counterattacks, notice that many enemies (and all bosses) have a tell. Depending upon how much time you have between a tell and the actual attack you can move around them or jump over some. Then there is what is called a Mystical Dodge. This happens when you dodge at just the right moment and the color washes out of the screen so you know that it happened. You get 5 seconds of stopped time to run around your enemy and beat the crap out of them with free hits or do whatever you please. With all of this, you will still take damage. If your HP reaches zero, you will be revived at the cost of a piece of your stomach inventory. I know you just said “stomach inventory?” There are items you carry on you like your equipped weapons and armor along with items in your primary inventory. As you fight in a level, you may find treasure chests and until you complete a level and return to Metallia, stuff you find goes in your stomach. You have limited space in your stomach (which can be increased) and that space can be used up if you get full on garbage (actual garbage). More on that in a moment. The flame on HK's head represents his life force and his ability to exist away from Metallia. You start every area with one hundred gigacals. As you move, fight and replenish HP, you use up gigacals. Should your gigacals hit zero, you will lose all stamina and be returned to Metallia's swamp to be replenished. There are several ways to replenish gigacals in the field and one of those is to eat weakened enemies. Doing so has the side effect of filling your stomach with garbage. There are also consumables that restore gigicals along with the ability to do so at bloomed pillars, so remember that you always have options. Life for The Witch and the Hundred Knight is quite unfair. Every bonus they encounter has a negative or a catch. Learning to deal with them early on is vital to progressing through later stages.
BONUS! If you have played this game before you might be wondering what the big deal is about the Tower of Illusion. Calling it a tacked-on dungeon is not wrong but is not correct either. The tower has its own smaller story which becomes apparent the moment you notice that Metallia is not the same witch that Hundred Knight knows. She is the main differential in this mode of the game. There had been many requests to play as Metallia when the game first came out. The foul-mouthed witch was always bragging about how powerful she is and you get some glimpses of that during the story. In the Revival Edition you finally get to see just how powerful. Much like Hundred Knight, the control of Metallia is straightforward. You can slash with her ridiculously large sword or use her magic. The difference is that she is a summon of sorts. As Hundred Knight battles in the tower you fill up a concentrated mana gauge that is under his AP meter. It is clear to tell what it is for as it has a witch hat attached to it. When you summon Metallia, you have until this gauge depletes and then you return to Hundred Knight. your battle prowess can extend that time depending upon how proficient you are in battle. Even in the tower, there are trade offs but playing as Metallia is incredibly satisfying once you really get the hang of her abilities. Make sure you sacrifice a rare item as it improves the loot you get in the tower. Your experience and goods obtained in the tower can be brought back to the main game to really wreak havoc. IS it annoying having to worry about gigacals running out? Yes, it is, but that just means players need to improve their skills to maintain a decent level while on the field. Every game should have some kind of challenge in it. The detractors of The Witch and the Hundred Knight just do not realize this is a different kind of challenge.
FOUL-MOUTHED BEAUTY On the PlayStation 3, The Witch and the Hundred Knight was a decent looking game. I missed out on it so I cannot show you side by side comparisons to the Revival Edition. A quick Google search will provide you with comparisons however and you can clearly see the difference. The forests look more lush as you can see individual leaves and there are more detailed lighting effects. In towns, the improved detail allows you to see the cobblestone floors to the point where you can see the grooves where cement holds each stone in place. Nippon Ichi also boasts a framerate improvement from 30 to 60fps. The biggest improvement aside from graphics is the fact that the glitch the PS3 version had is gone. Many players who wanted to love the original were disappointed because while playing they would randomly be returned to the XMB. This would cause a loss in all unsaved progress. It was something you could not predict so it was difficult to prevent. I am happy to say that this does not happen in the Revival Edition. There is a lot to visually enjoy in the game. The art style makes me wonder why there isn't more merchandise available for the characters. You would think otaku culture would eat this up. The music is also well done and ranges from Disney fairy tale to full-blown Fantasia nightmares. If you happen to score the limited edtion on eBay, there is a two-disc soundtrack filled with the game's musical score. The soothing tunes are there to heal your eardrums after listening to Metallia's exceedingly foul-mouth! Sometimes I wonder how this game managed a T rating, especially since the Japanese dialogue is not edited.
The Witch and the Hundred Knight has somewhat of a cult following, especially in it being a Disgaea offshoot. Fans supported the original release despite the fact that for many, a glitch made it nearly unplayable. Nippon Ichi Software listened to those complaints and others with the result being the Revival Edition. I always say that I am tired of the PlayStation 4 being flooded with remakes but there are some exceptions. When developers build upon the original game and offer something new, particularly of substance, that can be a reason to revisit a game. There is also the case where a title fell under the radar. I was aware of this game when it was first being developed but I missed the actual release. I have friends on my PS3 list all over the world and yet no one that I know has this game. Releasing it for PS4 gives gamers another chance to experience a great title they missed for one reason or another. Finally, when a developer puts in effort to not only enhance a game's graphics and gameplay, but to fix the issues that may have plagued the original, there is more of a reason for a remake to arise. Nippon Ichi hit all three of these areas and made a good game into something great on the PS4. Hundred Knight is a quirky, yet lovable little character that you want to see succeed. I found myself fighting hard for his sake, not that of the witch. Metallia is a bit of a tragic antiheroine, but her annoying attitude and foul mouth make it difficult to feel bad for her. Even still, raiding the homes of the townsfolk for goods is fun. On the gameplay side, this title may not be for everyone but remember that it is an action-RPG. The gameplay is not supposed to be without its challenges and the gigacal/stomach system is that challenge for us to master. If you are not at least a fan of games like The Legend of Zelda, you should not take on The Witch and the Hundred Knight. Even if you are, I would primarily recommend this game to those that also enjoy a more dedicated RPG system. Even though this game is more action than RPG, the maintenance of Hundred Knight is a constant throughout that some may not care for. Every RPG fan should download the free demo and if you enjoy that this game is a must-have. The curious should do the same as you might find yourself opening up to a new genre.