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PlayStation 3 Review: Knight’s Contract

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I enjoy games that do hack and slash well. If a battle against a horde of beasties is imminent, there is nothing I like better than having my hero wield some ridiculously huge scythe and make mincemeat out of them. A little magic on my hero’s side doesn’t hurt either. It’s like pepper in the sauce. These elements are the essence of Namco’s Knight’s Contract, which could be why I like this game.

Now Knight’s Contract isn’t solely about carnage. There is a story behind the mayhem. The protagonist is Heinrich, a huge brute of a guy from the Middle Ages, who once made his living as a witch hunter/executioner. However, after he executed the witch Gretchen, under the orders of Dr. Faust (hee, hee!), Gretchen returned to put a curse of immortality on the big galoot.

Cut to present day, where Fausty, the mad scientist, has decided to unleash hordes of beasties upon the world. Gretchen is having none of it and decides to cut this guy down. To accomplish this, she enlists Heinrich to aid her in her quest. If they succeed, the curse of immortality under which he suffers will be lifted off his broad shoulders and all will be right with the world.

So off they go to battle witches and black knights and large rabid dogs. Here’s the thing. Early in the game, Gretchen magically binds herself to Heinrich so he can use her magic. This also means they depend on each other to heal. Although Heinrich is immortal, he is fairly useless without her. If she loses strength, he must carry her around for a few seconds to revive her. This makes for some challenging gameplay. If you are in the middle of carving up a tree beastie and another of the monsters has Gretchen in its claws, you have to finish what you’re doing lickety-split if you have any hopes of continuing on to the next exciting part of the story.

The controls are pretty basic.  Although there are combos you can attempt to master, smashing any series of buttons will do nicely too in your effort to thwart your enemies.

You are able to access up to four of Gretchen’s powers. This works really well against the hordes once you get the hang of it. But these beasties can take a lickin’ — there’s a lot of fight in them and the battles go on for probably longer than they should. The boss battles, especially, can be infuriating. Just when you think you have the thing beat, another segment of the battle is introduced. I suppose this is considered challenging, but after an overly long beastie battle, I’d rather just move on.

The other frustrating thing about King’s Contract is the map system, which is more confusing than the expansive land you’re meant to traverse. The maps don’t give a clue as to how you’re supposed to get to where you’re meant to go. At one point, I ended up traveling in circles before I figured out you need to climb up a plateau to find the next part of the game.

I do like the artwork; the scenes of snow covered mountains are exceptionally well rendered. The voice acting is good, if at times a bit melodramatic.

There are no online elements for this game, which I did not miss. Those who enjoy that sort of gameplay however might feel somewhat cheated. But, if you can manage to immerse yourself in the story and battles the offline world presents you, you probably won’t be too distraught

If the idea of cutting down monsters while working with well rounded characters and a decent story sounds good, Knight’s Contract is worth checking out.

Knight’s Contract is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language, Nudity. This game can also be found on: Xbox 360.

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