I was actually really excited about White Knight Chronicles and could not wait to get my hands on the game. Although the game was released at the end of December last year, I only got it at the end of February, because the friend, who was supposed to send it to me, was busy and didn't find the time to post it. So when I finally got it, I played it for about two hours before going back to Persona 3, because I was obsessed with Persona 3 at that time. So finally another month later at the end of March I finally sat down and finished the game two days ago.
The game starts of with you creating your avatar in this world, who will from this point on follow the main characters party without ever saying single word or taking part in the story in the least tiniest bit. I am not sure, why they even included this into the single player story, because it doesn't make any sense. Of course it is nice to level your character for the online play a bit before going into that, but it looks strange to have a random user-created character following the story of characters, that actually have some kind of personality.
After creating your avatar the story follows the main character Lenard, who after completing a small escort mission (Yes, the first mission is an escort mission.) and seeing the circus come into town sneaks into the castle, where a huge party is going on. Of course the party ends with the circus people actually being evil people and attacking the castle and killing both the king and the invited guests. Lenard, who falls in love with the princess at first sight (Although I already had a crush on her as a child), protects the princess Shizuna and escapes with her into an underground passageway only to end up in an old treasure hall. Of course the enemies are following and a giant monster drops through the ceiling, leaving Lenard with no other choice but to pick up the Arc of the White Knight, transform into the White Knight and fight this monster.
At this point a lot is going on and quite a few interesting characters are introduced. Sadly this part is the best part of the story and afterwards it all only goes downhill. Of course defeating the monster alone isn't enough and the princess gets captured anyway. Lenard and his gang of course tries to get her back and he catches up with the evildoers countless times. Of course those encounters always end up with a boss battle and the princess taken away anyway. Along the quite short story not very much time is spend with developing the characters, but instead they try to spend time with talking about legends and myths, that add a bit of depth to the world, but since they are very JRPG-cliche listening to them isn't very fun. What makes matters even worse is the terrible ending, which stops in the middle of the story and comes out of nowhere. Perhaps it would have been more appropriate to call the game White Knight Chronicles - Episode 1, because that is what the game actually is.
The battle system isn't very fun either. In battles you take control over one character of the party, that you can change on the fly, with the rest of the party being controlled by the AI. There are quite a few attacks to be learned in the game, but the differences between them are rather small making learning most attacks rather pointless. The battle system also has a combo system, that chains together multiple attacks, but consumes ActionPoints. Unluckily you will need those ActionPoints to transform into the White Knight, so it is better to use normal attacks than to spend your ActionPoints on combos. So in most battles you just wait for your action circle to be full and press a button to execute the attack, making the battles extremely boring. For bigger enemies you can transform into the White Knight and completely destroy most enemies without problems. What is really strange is, that a lot of giant enemies in the normal dungeon take way more damage than boss enemies. But of course if you have no ActionPoints left for a boss battle you are more or less screwed and can reload your game.
In addition to the single player mode, there is also an online mode, where you can do special quests with up to four other players. Although you can finally take advantage of the combo system in this mode without having to care about ActionPoints being spend, the quest take place in the same areas you have already visited in the single player with the same enemies running around. Access to quests is limited by Guild Rank, that raises after earning enough points by doing quests. Really annoying is the small number of quests, that are available for the low Guild Ranks. The first few Ranks only have 2 quests each, that you will be doing over and over to achieve enough points for the next rank. Adding in some more random quests would have helped a lot.
I was expecting a lot, because Level 5 usually makes really great games, but sadly White Knight Chronicles turned out to be quite a shitty game.