65 hours 47 minutes and 55 seconds to be exact. And what a restless experience too. I became so intent on breaking my character I almost missed its funny, but dark story.
In this game, you play as a mythical god-like demon named Hundred Knight. In your prime, you possessed enormous power. You were as big as a mountain. You had 13 eyes, 4 arms, and 100 magical soldiers at your command. Flames shot out your mouth and your crotch. Nobody messed with you, well, almost nobody. Eventually you were stripped of your powers and sealed away.
The game begins when the Swamp Witch Metallia awakens you. She wants you to kill her rival, The Great Forest Witch Malia. Additionally, she wants you to help spread her swamp throughout Medea. Until those tasks are complete, you will remain her property. Sounds easy for a demon that could shoot fire out of its mouth and crotch, right?
Hundred Knight doesn't possess any of his former powers. In fact, he is now a squat, speechless, one-eyed minion with lanky arms. Good thing The Witch and the Hundred Knight has a robust grinding mechanic to help beef up your character in order to do your master's bidding.
Make no mistake: you will grind in this game. You will grind to level up your Facets, which dictate your health, attack, and defensive powers. You will grind to level up your weapons so they deal more damage. If you want to earn Grade Points to put towards temporary boosts to your health, attack power, and defense - you will grind. Also, the more you grind, the greater the chance enemies will drop rare loot. Grinding offers so many lucrative rewards.
I wanted those rewards, and I wanted them all. Early in the game, I decided I wanted to break my character. I grinded until my Facets were more than 10 times stronger than the enemies. I collected Anima, the souls of enemies, obsessively because you can use them to level up your weapons. I'd even wail on the same respawning enemies over and over for easy XP. When I should have felt satisfied with my progress, I didn't. The only respite I gave to myself was saving my game before my Gigacals ran out completely.
Hundred Knight depends on Metallia to stay alive. Gigacals calculates the time you can spend away from her. If you allow the counter to drop to zero, you die and you lose all your loot. Because all combat is in real-time, Gigacals can run out before you know it, especially if you're grinding.
You can, however, draw out your Gigacals in a few different ways. Consume enemies, and you will replenish it. Walking, not running, helps slow its depletion rate. Spending Grade Points on Gigacals will give a slight increase. Certain items help in a pinch as well. Careful management of Gigacals assures more time to grind, but also more time to explore the sprawling levels.
Because this game is essentially a dungeon crawler, I spent a good hunk of my game time exploring. I got it into my head that I needed to discover 100% of each area. I'd follow along the edge of the map first, and then work my way into the middle. This chore easily ate up an hour at a time. Powerful weapons, called Tochka, can be found in treasure chests in some areas too. Making sure I didn't miss them (among other special weapons and items) seemed worth the time. It certainly stalled my progress.
Around the 55 hour mark, I realized I lost perspective. I contacted NIS America and asked how long it should take to finish this game. The response? Between 30-45 hours.
I gave up on grinding and concentrated on finishing. It took 10 more hours to complete the story.
The Witch and the Hundred Knight's narrative feels a lot like a good anime. There's a cast of silly characters you meet, and help. Every cut scene features tons of Japanese voice-over work. I don't want to give any specific details away; however, like other anime shows, the story starts off as fun and silly, meanders in the middle, and then takes a darker turn in its mad dash to the end.
With The Witch and the Hundred Knight, NISA America has put together a game that had me restlessly grinding for hours, and packaged it in a story that moves from a lighthearted comedy to a heavyhearted drama.
The Witch and The Hundred Knight is available now for PS3.