It’s nice to see a good idea improved upon and the flaws mostly ironed out, and that’s what you get with this stand alone game. Of course, with the Revival Edition of the first on PS4 it’s convenient to try that one out if you wish but as this game has its own story with a new witch and a second hundred knight (probably?) you can definitely skip to this one and not feel completely lost.
The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2 takes place in a scared medieval world beset with dangerous monsters and cruel witches, one of which being the central ‘protagonist’ of the tale. You play her top minion, Hundred Knight, in a story that muddies villain and hero in a manner that is likely familiar to those who recognize NIS from their popular Disgaea series. While this game tends to be more serious and follow a more reasonable storyline, it still contains plenty of wacky anime humour and themes.
Right away the game proves to have that signature cartoonish charm one associates with NIS, with crisper colours and a much smoother look than the previous title the game is always nice to look at. The soundtrack won’t come as a surprise, with that whimsical spookiness that will be very familiar and the ability to choose from the tracks as you explore to make a play list is a welcome QOL option. This game won’t be pushing any boundaries, but for fans of the company this is a game that looks and sounds iconic.
The voice acting on the other hand may make this more of a niche title. Good or bad in this case is subjective, but that’s the thing- some people are going to find certain characters very obnoxious to listen to. Those used to comedic anime or JRPGs will be used to this, and may find it charming or humourous, but for others it may be best to switch the voices to Japanese and just read.
Even though Hundred Knight 2 is far more story driven than many other ARPGs which revolve around loot collection, you’ll still spend a great deal of time exploring somewhat randomized levels as you strengthen your character. Rather than choosing a class right away, you learn new classes (called facets) through the story and can equip three of them, switching them on the fly as you fight. Each class has strengths and weaknesses, such as weapons they receive bonuses with or penalties and bonuses to armour and magic resistance. They also each come with their own skills, such as attacks that do major damage and stun, or aoe spells and the ability to summon minions to take enemy aggro. While you can switch your equipment and skills at any time, you can only switch facets at your base.
Equipment comes in various rarities and with different status effects and damage types. For example, most swords do slashing damage but you can find magic ones or add the poison effect to them. There are five types of weapons and each facets has five weapons slots which are used in combo order while attacking. Unleashing a full combo permits you to use an execution ability that restores resources that permit you to heal or use abilities. This makes for a combat system that is somewhat complex, but easy to utilize and flows well for wading through hordes of foes. Enemies tend to have weaknesses and resistances, so some strategy must be used. Tougher foes also can do massive damage, but the telegraphing of their skills is clear enough that you can avoid it, and dodging at the last moment will slow time to let you dish out extra damage.
Both the combat system and loot makes it so the game is easy to enjoy for casual players, while those with sharp reflexes can get much more out of it. There is a mix of enemies that are fodder and those which pose a threat, and each can be even stronger with traits or auras similar to champions or named mobs in other games. Naturally, tougher foes yield better chances at loot, with the toughest being as tough as bosses but having good chances of dropping a legendary item. Side areas in the map can be ignored, but are good places if you need better gear to take on the next boss or simply want to face all these optional foes for trophies. Of course, you may get lucky with a piñata that runs away and drops sweet loot if you can kill it fast enough- good to see games taking that literally now.
Didn’t get a gear upgrade? That’s not a problem either, as loot quickly piles up and everything you find can be used, no matter how useless it seems. Through ‘krafting’ you can destroy old gear to upgrade new gear. While a very simple system, it also makes it so micro management generally involves deciding if you found an upgrade, and then breaking down everything else- nice for those who would rather just get back to fighting.
Bosses themselves tend to be just difficult enough so that you can take them on when you run into them, but with unique movesets and enough health and damage that it may take some effort and a few tries to get through, but they don’t feel cheap or unforgiving.
While this is a solid game all around, it does have a few flaws too. While the story is much more fleshed out and prominent than in most ARPGs, with a good 40-60 hour trek involved, it may be lacking in replay value. Part of this is due to a lack of multiplayer options, as well as sub-events mostly limited to optional side bosses. Of course, as a game that sets out to be a single player RPG that isn’t surprising, but it does make it feel like there could be more.
As nice as the game looks as well, there can end up being so many visual effects including damage numbers and particles that telegraphed moves can become harder to spot in hordes of foes, this may lead to being one shot by enemies that you know you can avoid. You can also get locked into an animation for long enough that you can know you are dead seconds before you actually die.
I would recommend this game for fans of the first, for fans of JRPGs who enjoy a more active combat system, and for those who don’t mind the style and enjoy ARPGs. For those looking for an endless ARPG loot grind, this might not be quite as satisfying as many other top choices in the genre like PoE and D3, or for those who prefer the gruesome brutality of most of the Western offerings over cartoon silliness.
~~ Alex Cumming~~