Knight's Contract User Review
Hitting up a restaurant with a certified chef with a flare of their own, including well placed spices, tenderly cooked meat, and excellently-balanced extremes can often meet your palate with a unique experience you are unlikely to ever taste again. Pair that with a clever bartender who mixes something only he has invented and some fantastic conversation, and you're looking at a most satisfying start to what should hopefully be an epic weekend away from work (or school!).
But what happens when you find a nappy hair in your meal... or worse... your meal explodes from your rotting innards with the violent mauling of a zombie apocalypse? Suddenly what was once an epic, memorable, fascinating, entertaining, mouth-watering, delectable, and tantalizing experience, now only retains the compliments of "epic" and "memorable", and it can only be cured by some pepto or Prep-H (or both).
Knight's contract begins with the introduction of Heinrich: a cursed executioner who was once tasked with the execution of witches. Because of his actions, the witch Gretchen, used her death to curse Heinrich so that now can not be allowed to die. Heinrich soon encounters the same witch he once executed (brought to life through alchemy in another human body) still named Gretchen and together, they seek to destroy the other resurrected witches who now aim to take revenge on the human race for their executions. You see, the witches actually used to protect life and humanity, so now they're a little bitter... yeah, I know. Fairly straightforward, albeit, a bit strange.
Believe it or not, the story isn't so bad, actually. Heinrich realizes the error of his witch-axing ways, and teams up and forgives Gretchen (and vice versa) to stop the pending doom of all humanity by, ironically, killing all the bad witches again.
The game looks pretty good, too! Each "level" is unique and maintains an interestingly dark and Gothic allure. From Snowy peaks, to burning cities, zombie infested towns, fortified castles, and dark, evil infested sewers, each area offers something different with constantly changing enemies you need new tactics to adjust to. There didn't appear to be many of your typical screen tearing or lag issues often found in multi-plats, either. Characters are original in appearance and enemies are diverse and many.
The music fits every mood. Mind you, most moods are dark and lingering, but there is a nice mix of classical sounds with higher tempo'd battle music. Sound effects from Gretchen's magic attacks are not your typically "flowery-dinging" sounding attacks, but are sinister, metallic, and bewitching. For a good witch, her spells are more reminiscent of something a very barbaric and death-loving boss might use. Heinrich's axe really sounds like he's axing through a few limbs, too.
A majority of the gameplay, I found to be extremely fun. There is a bit of a babysitting aspect, as once Gretchen dies, it's game over. Remember, Heinrich cannot die, but he can be torn asunder leaving the player to rabidly mash 'X' to re-animate him. While Heinrich is recovering from his own personal whoppoppage, Gretchen is left to her own devices. However, not all is lost. Gretchen will protect herself with powerful magic, but it takes time to replenish after each each use. So re-animation must be as fast as possible. And for heaven's sake, don't leave her all alone in case she gets pinned. She isn't smart enough to NOT stand in blazing fire or magma, so you'll need to be nearby.
But if her health does get low, or if there is tricky terrain to cross, you can simply call her closer to you and literally carry her. While carrying her, her health will replenish, and Heinrich will recover from wounds as well.
For battle, Heinrich has a plethora of combos and skills at his disposal that uses all of your face buttons. And at any time, you may shortcut Gretchen's magic. This goes even further still by being able to add Gretchen's magic into your combos. Used effectively, you can keep enemies under submission effectively and entertainingly!
Both Gretchen and Heinrich have a special attack when your guage fills up. Either Gretchen can use some crazy, other dimension skill where she either sits on enemies with her sexy touche, flicks them with her well manicured finger, or belly flops her, what I'm sure is her 36-C or D's on a group of enemies, or Heinrich goes all crazy a$$ bat $h!t crazy with a crazy bewitched axe that is like a million times larger than it normally is. (Your pick. For me, Heinrich's only got used once out of curiosity. Gretchen's was the easy choice.)
Boss battles are epic and require tact. In fact, I would go so far as to say this game is one of the best action hack n' slashers out there!
But remember my introduction?
Well... just as you're digesting an otherwise marvelous experience... something starts to stir within the game... and it's explosive. No really... you don't see it coming...
The absolute -WORST- Quick Time Events (QTE's) ever created for a video game.
In fact, if there was an award for such a feat, this would undoubtedly be the winner. I simply cannot fathom how the developers played through the testing of this part of the game and didn't realize it was killing their game.
And I'm not kidding, either. At the -END- of every boss battle, once you deplete the enemy's HP to zero, a QTE begins to execute the enemy witch. The cinematics for these are -REALLY- cool looking. But the execution (ha! Double meaning!)is terrible.
The first thing you need to know, is that if you screw even ONE button press, depending on the boss, it either results in the boss getting almost all their HP back and restarting the fight, or worse, an all-out GAME OVER.
Now ok... I hear some of you... so you just need to get good at QTE's... well, for the medium to lesser difficulties, sure. And I beat the game on a medium difficulty setting. It's still annoying, but it is manageable provided the game doesn't glitch out on you. But if you want to play the harder difficulties?
I kid you not... you LITERALLY need to press the right button BEFORE it shows you which button to press. I'm seriously not kidding. You have to memorize it. And to make it worse? Sometimes the game is out of sync. The sound doesn't match the video during QTE's sometimes, and the button presses don't show up in time. I kid you not, I actually had the game say "game over" for missing a button press that never showed up! It just went to game over! The QTE didn't even GET to the button press! I got game-overed!
Sure, you can play a still difficult but manageable QTE on easier difficulties, but then the MAJORITY of the game is way too easy. Most of the game does not require QTE's. So, -most- of the game is enjoyable. But these broken QTE's destroy this game. Afterall, there's a QTE in every level, and you can't progress past each one until you get it right. Check any website. It's a terrible terrible terrible feature.
Playing this game on a moderate difficulty is exactly like enjoying a wonderful meal at a small restaurant no one has ever heard of but should have heard of. When you get to the QTE... it's about as much of a turn off as a gross nappy hair being found in your dish. It spoils the overall experience, but at least you got some nutrition out of it.
But decide to play with a bit of a challenge? Well, you'll have a good time for the most part, but these QTE's will be the only thing you remember. And it practically destroys the game. No... not practically. It does destroy it.
The chain of QTE's in this title are identical to the bacterial chains that erode your colon.
Sure, it might look amazing at first, and it might have loads of nutritious goodness most gamers -CRAVE-! But once a little time passes, all you will remember is an epic and memorable mess that burns at your sphincter and ranks among the worst crap you've ever been a part of.
Knight's Contract, ladies and gentlemen, is -unfortunately- both epic and memorable.
Graphics = 82
Gameplay = 90 (for most of it) - 81 (for those friggin' game-breaking QTE's) = 9
Sound = 84
Control = 23 (again, you can't control the QTE's. Everything else, awesome)
Replay Value = 5 (if you try to go more difficult after one playthrough, you might as well just stab yourself in the thigh. It'd save you more time, and it'd be more fun.)
Overall - 34... Which I'm torn about, because I want it to be good.
This user review does not reflect the views of the PSX Extreme Staff.