The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2 seems to be Nippon Ichi Software‘s (NIS) version of Diablo if Diablo was created by a Japanese company. Since it’s release in Asia around a year ago, I’ve been waiting for this to come to us here in the West as I’m a massive fan of NIS and the whole top-down action-RPG style. Truth be told, I have the original game but I never found time to complete it so I really wanted to see how this game stacks up against the original and see what new mechanics it brings.
Now, thanks to NIS America, I get to play an interesting story, a unique yet slightly clunky combat system and some of the funniest cutscenes I’ve seen in a while.
The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2 is the story of two sisters, Amalie and Milm. One day Milm, the youngest of the sisters, goes out into the forest on her own in order to search for a mana flower, as she loves them and wanted to get one of her own. Upon returning, many hours later, her sister Amalie discovers that Milm has the mark of the witch upon her forehead. This mark appears to be a slanted slice right into her scalp! Behind said gash lies a third eye – the eye of a witch, which once opened grants the powers and abilities of an evil witch-being to the owner.
As soon as the townsfolk discover this ‘sickness’, both sisters are banished from the town forever. Moving forward, Amalie takes Milm to a doctor in order to cure her of the disease whilst she proceeds to work on the front lines of the war against the witches as a trainee healer. However, during surgery, instead of removing the eye from Milm, they simply open it, thus allowing the witch that resides within Milm’s soul to take control and cause havoc on the building she is in and every person and place she encounters. Upon awakening, Milm (or Chelka, which is her witch name), brings to life her Hundred Knight doll and commands it to do everything she tells it to.
And thus starts our story, you don’t play as either sister in this game, you play as Hundred Knight as you swap alliances between Chelka and Amalie throughout the game. You will be exploring a rather big map, collecting tonnes of loot, ‘krafting’ new items and weaponry, upgrading your skills and much more. The ultimate goal seems to revolve around finding a cure for Milm to remove the disease and return her back to the young girl she once was; however, Chelka has other plans for her body and soul…
The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2 is so Japanese – it mixes the Diablo format of combat and loot-gathering with many Visual Novel style NPC interactions throughout the game. The combat portion of the game is really smooth and fluent, with the opportunity for many different combos and alternative attacks. As the game has RPG elements within it as well, as you progress through the game, you will obtain skill points that you can use to unlock and upgrade new abilities. These abilities can be mapped to various button combinations on the controller and swapped around whenever you return back to the base.
The weaponry is where I got a bit confused at times and totally overlooked this mechanic, as I don’t think I used it to its full potential. You can equip up to five weapons for multiple ‘Facets’ which offer a unique gameplay mechanic. Let’s say you equip a Sword, Hammer, Ice Staff, Fire Staff, and a Lance. Every time you press the attack button in succession, you will attack with each weapon – in this case, Slash, Smash, Ice attack, Fire Attack, then stab – all one after another. Also, the damage goes up depending on its position within the chain with the first weapon doing 1.0x damage and the next 1.1x, then 1.2x etc… This mechanic can be used to create great combinations against certain enemies, or for experimenting with new weapons you have just picked up. However, I found a lot of times I would just strip it back to one or two weapons per chain, ones which were highly effective against the enemy I was facing.
I briefly touched on ‘Facets’ above, these are different ‘Load-outs’ but with a few other differences. As you progress through the story, you unlock new Facets which have different skills to the others and have varying stats such as higher attack or defence points. You can even equip each Facet with a set of ‘protectors’ and ‘accessories’, with the former focusing on armour increases or increasing resistance to various effects and the latter focusing on a range of additional supports. These Facets can be swapped on the fly with R2 and L2 at any point, even during battle.
As you play through the game, you will pick up tonnes of weapons from a small pool of weapon types. You have Swords, Staffs, Hammers, Lances, and Spears – each one has a decent amount of different weapons but the only difference you will see is the Attack, Attack Element and various stats – visually they won’t really change in-game, other than the magical weapons. As you only have a need for a small amount of these weapons, you can either sell them off for money or Kraft them in your base. Krafting is done by simply picking a weapon you wish to enhanced and then mixing it up with a bunch of other weapons or items. They will all merge together and enhance the stats and the level of the base weapon. This process is very handy if you have a set of weapons you always use, like me, and just want them to be more powerful.
You also have the option to perform a ‘Witch Petition’ whilst you are at your base, this allows you to change mana into money, change money into mana, access the various DLC (it has a lot of free DLC), and even summon minions which can be assigned to a button combo to be spawned in battle. The base sometimes has optional NPC interactions between Milm, Amalie and Chelka which are usually pretty funny.
Regarding the actual exploration side, the map is huge and not fully unlocked from the start. As you progress in the story, new places become available and you can freely warp to various unlocked waypoints around the map for ease of travel. The thing which was a bit unusual is how you deal with picking up new items. Hundred Knight has a stomach sack, which starts off quite small, and as you pick up items whilst you are exploring, you shove them in your sack. Once your stomach is full, you must either eat the item or discard it if you wish to pick up more. As Hundred Knight levels up the stomach get bigger and you can hold more – returning to your base allows Hundred night to empty his stomach and everything moves to your inventory. It’s a strange mechanics, but it means you have to return home regularly to see what you’ve found.
In regards to eating the items, Hundred Knight is plagued by two survival mechanics – hunger and health. Your hunger meter constantly drops, which requires you to eat food in order to keep it up as when it drops to zero your health will begin to get affected. If your health goes down then it will quickly replenish by using your hunger meter. This is why eating things you have picked up but don’t want is important, as is taking along food items or finding them on enemies you kill. I never really had an issue with this, just be sure to keep your hunger meter up when you are facing bosses to ensure you have health regen active.
The narrative parts of the game are what stood out the most for me, don’t get me wrong as I love the gameplay aspects, but the humour in the game is right up my street! From Chelka arguing with Hundred Knight to Amalie going into super-obsessive sister-mode when Milm temporarily re-emerges from Chelka’s control. The dialogue and the voice acting had me laughing out loud on numerous occasions but there are a lot of these 2d dialogue cutscenes within the game.
This brings me to both the sound and art style of the game. Sound-wise I love it, the music is so perfect (once again, I’ve had it on whilst writing this) that I’ve just seen THIS for £25 and grabbed it! Sure, the game is in Japanese in this collection, but the soundtrack is worth it! The voice acting is great in both English and Japanese, which you can swap between whenever you want, and the sound effects work perfectly from the cries of the creatures to the sounds of smashing in their faces with a hammer.
Graphically, the game is gorgeous. The 2d sprites in the cutscenes look amazing, so detailed and such amazing artwork and the 3d in-game graphics are all bright and colourful whilst filled with charm and the perfect art style. I did have a few slowdowns at times due to having five magical staffs equipped, all firing out their magical effects one after another, but boy did the game look beautiful!
That brings me nicely to a part I would love to praise the game for. NIS America games aren’t the most well-known titles and as such, you would think they would skip the PS4 Pro support and just have the game show visual parity between the Pro and the base PS4, but nope! There are three gameplay modes in The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2.
• The first of which is your standard 1080p at 60fps – this mode runs great, it looks great on a 1080p TV and runs at, what seems to be, a solid 60fps constantly.
• The second option is a 4k mode at 30 fps – this one looks simply stunning on both a 4K and a 1080p screen with supersampling, but the 30fps does feel a little off if you played it on the other modes first.
• Finally, we have a ‘High Quality’ mode – which appears to be another 60fps mode at around 1440-1620p resolution. This is the default mode and the one which buckles under intense scenes, but I only noticed that once or twice as the majority of the time it’s super smooth.
I would like to applaud NIS for giving us these three options and I hope it’s a trend they see fit to incorporate in their future games as well. Not to mention this game is a true PS4 exclusive, so it’s not on PC or any other console – so it’s clear all the development time and effort has gone into giving PS4 owners an amazing experience.
The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2 is a great game, in my opinion. It has a perfect mix of RPG, Graphic Novel, Diablo looting, and Satisfying Combat elements all rolled into one. The dialogue and the outlandish story keeps you entertained between the combat sections, with lots of opportunities to upgrade your weapons, summon new allies, and upgrade your skills – combat never gets boring or monotonous as you can shake it about in so many ways! The game isn’t short either, with a massive map, multiple chapters, many bosses, and tonnes of enemies, you will be entertained for hours. The soundtrack and the voice acting adds an extra layer of magic to this title and gives the game more charm and character.
If you love your Japanese games, the ones that are so Japanese you could spot it a mile off, and like top-down loot-fests like Diablo then this game should already be in your collection. Whilst you’re at it as well, the original game was remastered on PS4 a while ago, so be sure to pick that one up as well if you haven’t already.
The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2£44.99
- - Beautiful art style in both 3d action and the 2d cutscenes
- - Amazing soundtrack and voice acting, with the option of English or Japanese dubs
- - Unlimited combinations of weapons for the combo creator
- - Very funny and Japanese story and dialogue
- - Takes full advantage of the PS4 Pro
- - Difficulty does spike in some areas if you haven't come correctly equipped
- - Quite a lot of different systems and mechanics to get used too - but once you do then it's lots of fun
- - Due to the size of the map, a lot of places are very similar with different 'regions' throughout the game