The promise has been made.
Have you ever wanted to dislike something? Did you ever start a game, knowing it was going to have something that was going to disappoint you or piss you off? And then when that thing came, and you saw what you were waiting for, you weren’t prepared for how dreadful it really was? That’s Witch and the Hundred Knight for me. I had never heard of this game, and I really wish it had stayed that way. The gameplay is mediocre, the systems are bad, and the writing is downright abysmal.
(Warning: This review makes reference to some highly objectionable in-game content)
The simple act of playing The Witch and the Hundred Knight is just boring. The combat is as bland as possible. There’s nothing innately wrong with it, and the game tries to mix things up, but it ends up being samey button-mashy combat that would make Raiden cry. There’s a weapon stacking system that lets you put up to five weapons in order to use them one after another in combat. It’d be nice if the weapons had a distinct feel, but they all feel the same. Enemies die too quickly for status effects to matter. You might poison them but you could just hit your foe again and finish them off, so why bother waiting?
Plus, certain enemies are immune to certain weapon types, so you either have to waste time hitting them with ineffective moves, or go into the pause menu and un-equip everything that isn’t useful. You can also equip armor that changes the look of your little knight, but the camera is pulled back so far it’s difficult to see unless you stack a crapload of things onto him. You get item drops from enemies a la Diablo, but you can’t immediately equip them. You have to bring the items back home, and THEN they become equippable. It’s unnecessary busywork.
The systems just get worse the further in you go. There is a “gigacalorie” meter next to your health bar that lowers every time you move, attack, or do much of anything. Once you run out of gcals, you lose health rapidly until you die. Dying from starvation kicks you out of the stage while dying in battle only knocks you to your last spawn point. To keep yourself full, you have to spend upgrade points on refilling your meter (instead of using them to, well, upgrade yourself) or by devouring enemies after weakening them enough. Both of these actions have detriments, since you either lose out on upgrades or your stomach, which holds your new weapons, becomes filled with a stone for every enemy you beat. There’s no reason for this to be so difficult and it’s a useless mechanic that doesn’t change how you play the game. It’s just frustrating.
Yes, the game is bland and the mechanics are terrible, but what about the writing? The writing is horrendous! Awful! Meeting new characters often entails twenty minutes of useless pleasantries bombarded to you, the silent protag. The main speaking character, Metalia the Witch, is very easily a contender for worst character of the year, if not all time. Her main goal is to cover the world in swampland so she can control it with her Shrek magic, but in order to do so she must defeat rival witches and destroy their magic pillars.
Every line of dialogue Metalia speaks about other witches is about how “they’re whores” or “sluts”, etc. It’s both offensive and boring. There’s also a running “gag” where characters call Metalia “Lia” instead, which is brought up at the beginning of every conversation including her. Metalia acts like a thirteen year old, and it’s a damn shame because working for her could be fun if her motivations weren’t so petty and she wasn’t dropping gendered slurs every other word. Her character art is also extremely male-gazey. Metalia looks like someone took a popsicle stick and slapped cotton balls onto it, chuckling “hehe, boobies!”
It gets worse. There’s a scene early on where Metalia turns another witch into a rat and then summons hormonal male rats to rape her. There is a line, and this game crosses it big time. I’d love to be the bad guy in a game for once, but I don’t want to if that means I have to assist a character that does really gruesome stuff. Metalia isn’t even a character you’re supposed to hate, this kind of stuff is played up for kicks. Even when you’re not being depraved, there’s a village raiding mini-game that feels like half of it is missing. You enter homes and, based on your level, succeed or fail in stealing an item from the house. There feels like there was an opposite option to befriend villagers that was scrapped halfway through development, making this game feel thinner.
The Witch and the Hundred Knight is not a game I can recommend. You can hypothetically press the O button to skip all of Metalia’s gruesome dialogue, but every mechanic is working against you. This game is an absolute trainwreck, especially considering how long it is. Even if you like button-mashy loot games, don’t even think about picking up this one.