At the start of The Witch and the Hundred Knight, the titular Hundred Knight is asked a question by his summoner, the Swamp Witch Metallia, and you, the player, are given the freedom to answer in one of four ways: affirmatively, silently, negatively, or questioningly. Before you can pick one, the game restricts you further by removing two of those options, as the Hundred Knight itself isn’t intelligent enough to question anything. After slogging through the next several hours (not for nothing is your home a swamp), it becomes a lot clearer that none of your answers actually matter. In fact, nothing in the game matters, as the developers appear to be targeting an audience of uncritical fanboys.
It’s easy at first to believe that there’s a certain complexity to the game. The Hundred Knight can wield five weapons at once, chaining together impossible combinations of swift spears, heavy hammers, and singeing staves. He can shift between various “facets” that improve his efficiency with various weapons (while diminishing others). He can even summon a series of magical Tochkas to assist him in battle. But all of this seems complex only because the shoddy tutorials that explain these techniques appear in a random order during the lengthy loading screens. Worse, it remains overly complicated—even after you’ve learned that you just need to attack enemies with one of the three properties (blunt, magic, slash) that they’re susceptible to—only because the obtuse equipment menu is hard to sort.
As if cursed, every innovative attempt The Witch and the Hundred Knight makes to be more than just another button-mashing, loot-grabbing action RPG only trips it up further. Inefficiencies of combat aside, the game is plagued with horrid level design. Maps are either painfully bland (the yellow, wide-open Tettara Desert), filled with obscuring details (the enemy-blocking trees of Hekkahenne Forest), or, more often, both. Switches and Guardians that open doors elsewhere in a given zone only serve to stretch out the amount of time spent dashing about, as the auto-map is a joke. Adding insult to injury is a Gigacal meter that counts down from 100% to 0%, at which point you’ll generally have to exit the dungeon before soldiering on. (It says a lot that the mechanic used for overcoming this obstacle involves consuming your foe, at least until the Hundred Knight’s stomach literally fills up with the garbage this action generates.)
Just as the Hundred Knight’s goal is to go around polluting/corrupting the various realms of the kingdom, so, too, does the game ruin everything it touches. The storyline doesn’t even begin to pick up until 20 hours in, and even then is pockmarked by fan service, be it Metallia’s skimpy outfits and belligerent, bleeped-out villainy; naïve and ditzy women like the Tar Witch Teresa or the Bug Princess; or lecherous men like Shaman Nahab, who just wants to “fondle and squeeze [Metallia’s] boobs for a while.” As for bosses, they’re often creatively designed, such as a talking locomotive with a lion’s head and a snake’s tail and a two-wheeled Minotaur, with the intent that they be skillfully beaten, as each is most vulnerable for a short window surrounding their strongest attacks. Instead, because dodging is so hit and miss, players will mostly just activate the Hundred Knight’s turbo-charged equivalent of “god mode” and let loose. This is entertainment of the tawdriest variety, and while a game has no obligation to be significant, it’d be nice if it wasn’t so mindless.