Review: Knights Contract
Knights Contract is a game that has an intriguing premise, but faces an uphill battle in delivering something good in a genre filled with quality. Does it bring something valuable to the table, or is it best left forgotten?
- Worth The Time?No, never.
- Things LovedThe premise of the game, the story, the flashy-looking moves, the characters.
- Things HatedThe shallow combat system, the stupid AI, the horribly executed quick-time events, the repetitiveness, the completely dead and boring feeling to the game, the lack of originality, having to constantly protect your partner Gretchen, the bland level design, the below average graphics, the constant loading screens - even after installing the game to your hard drive, the slow-down issues when things get too busy, the level of frustration involved.
- RecommendationThere is simply no reason to buy or play Knights Contract. There are far better games out there.
- Name: Knights Contract
- Genre: Action Adventure
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: N/A
- Platforms: PS3, Xbox360
- Developer: Game Republic
- Publisher: Namco Bandai
- Price: R451-499
- Reviewed On: PS3
Usually bad games are just bad games, as much as they get dressed up, and they just live miserably and soon die in the same state without really influencing anything or being noticed. However, Knights Contract is perhaps the first and only truly rotten apple I’ve played that actually left me feeling quite upset rather than creatively evil in preparation for a revenge review. The simple reason for that is because the game actually has a great premise and concept, and the story is really interesting with two enjoyable main characters and an intriguing and enticing game world. It may not reach epic proportions, but it’s certainly a tale worth listening to – just not one worth playing through.
Knights Contract is a dark fantasy tale involving witchcraft, sorcery and all kinds of monsters and demons. In the game you take control of Heinrich Hofmann, an executioner who kills a certain witch under the orders of Dr. Faust, only to be cursed by said witch as a result. The curse is that of immortality, and when Heinrich finds his path crossed by a young woman named Grethen, who is in actuality a reincarnation of the witch he killed, their fates become entwined – for Heinrich wishes to break the curse and be granted his wish to die, while Gretchen hopes to fully live out the life she could not before. The duo join forces in order to hunt down and kill Dr. Faust, each with their own reasons, but the immortal Heinrich must protect the mortal Gretchen from danger during their journey, for without her his quest is lost.
The game has a great story, but it’s just impossible to enjoy, admire or follow it because the game just can’t stop itself from getting in the way and ruining it all. It almost makes you wish that this had been made as a CGI movie rather than an obnoxious game that goes out of its way to make you frustrated and bored. Really, there are two characters you’ll genuinely like and feel something for, the premise is really cool and the story and its concept is interesting from the word go, but unfortunately right from the beginning the game is also plain bad in nearly all aspects. It’s a damn shame, really, because had the game been even a little less unbearable then the story would have given players the incentive boost to see it through, but sadly it’ll take balls of steel and the endurance of Godzilla to make it through this.
As far as gameplay is concerned, it’s your average hack and slash action game, except with so much less combat variety. It’s shallow, limited and repetitive as heck, and even though the moves look flashy and cool at times, it’s just boring. It’s hardly free-flowing, and your attack chains break every few hits so you’ll just have to keep hammering buttons hoping for new results. The game does try to add a cool twist to the combat, in that you’ll get to use the magical powers of Gretchen to aid you whenever her spells are cooled down, and admittedly she does actually have some pretty helpful and great moves, such as an ensnare trap ability that holds enemies in place and allows you to bully them. However, since you have to protect her, and you can only control Heinrich, her body is left up to the AI, which is absolutely horrifying – at best.
Gretchen doesn’t seem to understand that she isn’t immortal like you are. She stands uselessly in front of enemies, tries to block their attacks with her boobs, admires the scenery, runs around in circles doing nothing of value, charges into fights with no health and perhaps casts a spell on her own here and there that doesn’t help you. I spent most of my combat time wondering if she was chasing butterflies or just downright retarded. To make it worse, the situation might seem hopeful at first in that you’re able to pick up Gretchen and carry her to safety, all the while healing both you and her while she’s in your arms, which is a good idea, but unfortunately you can’t fight while holding her and the moment you set her down she immediately loses her brains again. This is definitely not what anyone signed up for.
Since Heinrich is immortal, whenever he’s hacked to pieces or cut down, you need to rapidly tap a button to revitalise him and get him up and running again. However, surely you can see where this is going. Yes, you don’t even get the opportunity to feel bad-ass while you pull your dismembered limbs and broken bones back together, because while you’re doing this Gretchen is off contradicting her desire to live a nice long life. To make things, somehow, even worse, Heinrich’s movement speed is extremely slow, and there are no dash moves to travel faster, so the game rather cruelly lets you run to save Gretchen in slow motion while everything else goes on at normal speed. It’s not like Heinrich’s scythe even packs a decent attack range, so you can only hope the witch survives until you get there. And you can’t make her cast spells to protect herself either, because enemies latch onto her and drain her life while you’re not around – just when you thought things couldn’t possibly get any worse. This leads you to restart sections a lot, which is beyond annoying.
It’s not just Gretchen’s AI that is terrible though. The enemies are just as stupid, except for the fact that they all have Gretchen-detectors and all hate her guts. But whenever she isn’t their target, their brains shut down and they’re useless. For the most part enemies will stand dumbly in front of you and have something like thirty-second intervals between their attacks, as if they’re scared they’ll contract AIDS if they get your blood on them. And just when you think this game is ridden with more than enough design flaws and technical failures to warrant an immediate execution where it stands, the boss battles jump in and slap you in the face almost as if to say “wait, did you really think all that was the worst you’d get?” It hardly seems worth slating this game further, but basically in boss fights the camera fixes on the boss making it hard to see much else, and in these situations your friend Gretchen unleashes her true powers of retardation.
The boss battles are virtually the same. Slice away at multiple life bars until a quick-time event triggers, but Knights Contract allows you to revisit the most horribly implemented QTEs of all time. There’s no way to anticipate them the first time around and they come out of nowhere, so even if you’re paying full attention you’d probably still fail the first one because you’d be too busy expecting a cutscene. Screw up a single button input and you’re tossed way back into the fight with the boss having regenerated a couple of life bars and you having reclaimed nothing. And that’s how the tedious cycle goes. The best you can do, if you’re prone to attention failure and quick-time event failure, is memorise the button prompts for each quick-time event, because they don’t change, and simply push them in that order the next time around.
It seems almost a waste of energy to go any further. I could talk about the bland and bad level design, the repetitive nature of the game, the below average graphics, the constant and somewhat excessive loading screens even if you choose to install the game to your hard drive, the slow-down and frame rate drop when things get even a little busy on screen, the hit-and-miss voice acting, the completely boring nature of the game and the way it will just frustrate you and cause you no end of misery, but it all seems rather pointless. On the plus side, the story is cool, the premise is interesting, the characters and their designs are well done and the medieval music is fitting for the game, but these small positives are buried beneath a heap of junk where trying to access them will only require you to blow everything else up first.
Knights Contract is simply a miserable experience. It has such a good premise to it, but unfortunately it’s just such a bad game that it can’t be enjoyed. The end result is that it’s a tale worth listening to – but not one worth playing through. Save yourself, save your money, save your family and save the universe from this game.