A year after its Japanese release, The Witch And The Hundred Knight 2 has finally made it to Western consoles. Following the story of sisters Amalie and Milm, you play as the Hundred Knight – a doll brought to life by witchcraft to do the evil bidding of the young witch who has taken over Milm’s body after she contracts Witch’s Disease. You battle as the Hundred Knight in the quest to free Milm and uncover the secrets of the world in which the sisters live.
Gameplay splits between cutscenes - which for the most part are static animations - and top-down battle sequences. The game is bright, colourful, and well animated with superb voice acting. As a default, the game will set to English, but the option to revert to the original Japanese is there. The storyline can get pretty dark at times, which juxtaposes quite starkly to the vibrant fairytale-esque aesthetic of the game, but it really works and takes the edge off.
Dialogue between characters, though it does go on, is for the most part interesting and characters develop really nicely over the course of the game. There are some genuinely funny moments between characters that almost make everything else worth it. Almost.
The Witch and The Hundred Knight 2 is like a game of two halves, unsuccessfully shoved together. While the main storyline is enjoyable and the characters and animation are whimsical and fun, the whole battle interface feels way too claustrophobic. There are too many displays on screen fighting for your attention, and it's all just a bit much. It's so busy and so overbearing that it really lets down the game.
Overall, everything feels needlessly drawn out and completely counter-intuitive when battling. You can equip weapons and the order that you equip them is the order you’ll use them in battle. Different weapons have different effects against enemies, but instead of being mapped to different buttons you’ll just have to mash square until your weapon switches and the enemy is vanquished. Weapons can be developed using crafting back at the atelier at the home castle, and equipped in varying combinations to find a fighting style that suits.
But then there’s no locking on to enemies - it’s just a case of pointing in their general direction and hoping for the best. This leads to a lot of frustration while in combat, and causes the encounters to feel very repetitive and tedious.
The Hundred Knight can also have facets equipped, which enable the use of different strategies. You equip facets at the home castle and scroll through them in battle using L2 and R2 to call on a new strategy, should the situation arise. Though this feature has the best of intentions, and does tries to change things up, it’s again another element that seems to fall flat and doesn’t really make clear what it’s trying to do. This is an underlying theme of the game: concepts are introduced, and you’re left with little idea of what to actually do with them past the tutorial.
The Witch and The Hundred Knight 2 is a colourful, funny, and interesting game, but it's greatly hindered by a drawn-out, convoluted battle system. Hardcore JRPG fans will get more out of this game than the casual player, but as a whole it just feels far too inaccessible for its own good.