Brought to us by NIS, The Witch and the Hundred Knight is a simple and quirky action RPG for the PS3 and PS4. As one might expect, you get to play as the titular knight summoned by the witch.
She intends to cover the entire world in her precious swampy goop with the help of the Hundred Knight. After an extensive opening introducing you to a few mechanics and the witch's petty and amusing nature, you're set upon your quest.
The knight is less a character and and more of a walking mcguffin. It's composed of a mass of souls which justifies the game's main mechanic. During a level, the knight's spirit is constantly draining, making the whole game quite the hurried affair. In order to survive, you need to rush between checkpoints in order to keep your spirit up.
I'm not inherently opposed to time limits, but when they are this small and omnipresent, they get grating. Even with the handful of story-dictated upgrades to your maximum spirit, it doesn't really get much nicer, since the space you need to traverse increases and you're not really rewarded for replaying levels.
I find it punishes exploration, but there isn't much of it to do here anyway. The game is pretty much an arcade experience. Every level is more or less linear, with a few extra enemies here and there. But you'll want to hunt them down for the upgrades you can earn. Or not, since your rank gets detracted for for every upgrade (you get resetted at the end of every level) you purchase. It feels so wrong to get punished for using an upgrade system.
These temporary upgrades aren't vital, but they are mighty tempting. Combat is pretty basic but solid, which I blame the perspective for. It isn't far from an Ys game actually. You move at a decent pace and can chain attacks and dashes pretty well. I never felt like the controls were any issue, even during the hectic and excellent bosses.
But since this game is longer than a regular Ys game (especially if you do the EX missions), the combat starts growing stale halfway through. You get a select few more combat options in the form of weapons and emergency spells, but they can't really protect you from tiny mistakes (brought about by rushing) piling up.
You're not doomed to restart, since you can pillage villages at regular intervals for some amusing dialogue and healing items. But even this comes with a caveat, as later levels (the snow ones in particular) severly limits the amount of houses per village.
Even so, I never felt like giving up. I chalk that up to the awesome dialogue and plot. NIS are well-versed in RPG tropes and make good use of them here for normal story or satirical gags. The world of the game feels like it could just be one of the planes of reality from Disgaea.
The witch is the star of the show, without a doubt. She is selfish, pathetic, funny, very driven to complete her goal and swears something fierce. She's such a fun character. The supporting cast is ok, but she elavates them by trying and failing at making fun of them. As the plot progresses, you get the reasons why she hates so much of the world and she even displays a cute little relationship with the knight.
In closing, I find the game a bit difficult to recommend. But it is unique and funny, with solid combat. If you're ready to accept the time-aspect, then go for it.
[This review is based on my hazy memories of the demo and a whole lot of baseless assumptions. Tell me, did I get anything right about the game?]