Back in 2014 The Witch and the Hundred Knight came to America. This action RPG, from the creators of Disgaea, launched onto the PlayStation 3 without much fanfare and mediocre reviews. Attempting to fix what was wrong, The Witch and the Hundred Knight: Revival Edition comes to the PlayStation 4 to give the game one more shot. Nothing here actually convinced me it deserved that shot.
The Witch and the Hundred Knight puts you in the role of the titular Hundred Knight: A magical being summoned by a witch named Metallia. Metallia has one major goal. As a swamp witch, she wants to spread her swamp to the entire world. Metallia has a whole set of tasks she wants to do, killing her rival witch Malia makes the list, as does being recognized as an official witch. As the story continues, Metallia is joined by various companions. Her robot butler Arlecchino is always around for entertainment, she takes in a princess named Visco who's cursed to look like a dog, she gains an apprentice beastman named Lucchini, and occasionally her party is crashed by a rogue fairy named Mani. Most of the supporting cast ranges between a little mad to delightfully entertaining. Yet, the majority of the game is spent with Metallia, and she just comes off as mean.
I really am serious when I say that too, sometimes it's tough to want to do things for Metallia when she's just a horrible person. Early in the game, she turns another witch into a mouse and sends a bunch of male mice to rape her, laughing about it all the while. Later she ties a woman up in her backyard and stuffs things up her ass. Metallia is always finding new and usually horrible ways to treat people, and it becomes strange when everyone always treats it like it's some kind of silly prank by someone who is secretly okay. Maybe if the plot had some sort of redemption arc that would be better, but The Witch and the Hundred Knight's plot can only really be described as a totally unfocused mess. The game is constantly straying off to find random plot elements that have little to nothing to actually do with the main goal. A several hour chapter-long distraction involving Metallia getting a stomach ache serves so little purpose that it's not even mentioned in the summary of the game when I looked it up later.
Even worse than that is that the game basically only gets this plot across via really long exposition dumps. Cutscenes would often take fifteen minutes or more each, yet rarely did they ever have anything important to say. They also had a horrible tendency to pop up when I was in the middle of a dungeon. The longest cutscenes start and end each chapter, usually with another long one after the chapter's mid-boss, but randomly while exploring levels I'll have Metallia interrupt my stomping around to give me another useless lecture about something. The game is also weird in how it has events happen in the cutscenes. There's no visuals at all, instead a text block will say something like "The character shows up on a broom" or "The character stabs the other character in the gut." When so much time is spent watching characters talk it's almost amazing that so little was put into it.
The Witch and the Hundred Knight desperately relies on its gameplay to save it, but I'm not quite sure it's up to the task either. As the Hundred Knight, you run through and clear levels while killing many enemies along the way. Hundred Knight can equip up to five weapons at once, and he cycles through the weapons as he attacks. There are five weapon types and each one has its own style. Swords and hammers swing, lances thrust, spears spin, and staves use magical abilities. Each weapon is one of three types: slash, blunt, or magic, with a simple weapons triangle determining how effective something will be. Each time I hit enemies, I could gather AP for stronger versions of my attacks, and I could put up a shield to block attacks by holding the left trigger. Both of these exist, but their use is questionable. You can't combo the AP attacks, which makes them useless if you're up against an enemy that is strong against whatever you first weapon is, while blocking never really seems to have much purpose, as dodging is so much more useful.
When I hit the right trigger, it allows me to dodge in a direction, and timing it right lets me enter a slow-mo mode called Mythical Dodge. This is a surprisingly satisfying thing to pull off, and rather important for later boss encounters. This mostly made up the main way of defeating anything in the game: smack it with my regular attacks and occasionally lure it to attack so I could use a Mythical Dodge if it was extra tough. It's fun for a little while, but as the game continued I desperately wanted it to mix things up more. The game tries to use Tochkas to make up for this. These are abilities that Hundred Knight can cycle between, and range from either being hilariously overpowered to so useless that I'm not sure what the point is. There was almost no inbetween. A bomb takes so long both to plant and to go off that any attempt often has the enemy moving far away from it. On the other hand, a turret that shoots magic missiles could easily wipe out large swaths of enemies with little issue, even if they're strong against magic.
There's two specific systems that drove me nuts in The Witch and the Hundred Knight: Stomach Stock and GigaCals. Any time you pick up an item during a dungeon it goes into your Stomach Stock. It can't be used from there at all, instead stuck in your stock until after you finish the level. It's always frustrating when I pick up a weapon that is a significant improvement over what I had and I just can't use it. GigaCals were worse, basically serving as a countdown timer for how long I could stay in a level. Every time you do something you spend some GigaCals, and even just standing still they slowly go down. Lose all your GigaCals and you take a 30% hit to all your stats. Worse, get killed with no GigaCals left and you lose all the items you've collected so far along with a good chunk of the XP you've gained from the map (XP, like items, only applies after you leave a level). You can regain GigaCals with items, by spending bonus points (which you can also spend on temp stat boosts), or by consuming enemies (which fills your aforementioned Stomach Stock with trash). There really feels like there's no good reason for such a system to exist however: all it really does is discourage exploration while encouraging bum-rushing to the exit.
Thankfully, most of the objectives are running right to the exit, and the game always points me to where I needed to go. It was easy to just storm through the levels and try to get to the end as soon as possible. Sometimes it tries to switch things up by giving me objectives that required backtracking to collect items or exploring the map to destroy pillars. This was often more painful than the basic objectives, with the GigaCals constantly counting down making even basic tasks more stressful than they needed to be.
There are also a bunch of strange smaller systems that don't really seem to have any purpose in the game other than to create fake complexity. There's a karma system, but I had to actually go look up what it did. Turns out if your karma is too high (why not low?) then villagers will attack you on sight during one of the rare moments you enter a town. Shop prices will also increase but that doesn't matter because there's nothing worth buying. You can raid houses to gain whatever the family treasure is, but the rewards never really feel like they're worth the wait for the animations to pass. You can collect Anima to spend on the Bucket List located inside of Metallia's home, but once again the rewards never feel worth the grind.
It's not like you get to go to a bunch of interesting locations to do these things as well. The first couple of chapters are spent in different but similar looking forests. Later chapters vary things up a bit more, but the deserts and palaces don't exactly look much better either. Everything is just empty, with large featureless rooms or zones mostly being the order here. Technically, the game isn't really much of a looker. It's good enough for what it is, but it never goes beyond good enough. Some of the models are really bad if you zoom in, but you won't be doing that too often. The camera is a real problem though, and I often had to waste time rotating the camera around to actually be able to see where I was going.
There is one thing that The Witch and the Hundred Knight does far better than a lot of games, and that is its soundtrack. The game's soundtrack is delightfully well made, including a bunch of awesome songs that really help set the mood. The game also has decent voice acting with no actors feeling uninterested in being there or in the material. That said, Japanese voice acting is also available if you're not interested in the English dub.
The more I played The Witch and the Hundred Knight: Revival Edition, the more I wonder who thought bringing this game back was a good idea. There are plenty of action RPG dungeon crawlers available, and unless you're absolutely desperate for one, I would never suggest picking this one up. Its story is boring, its humor is off, the gameplay isn't much good, and the systems get repetitive fast. Some games should stay dead.
The Witch and the Hundred Knight: Revival Edition was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a code provided by the developer.