Mass destruction does put a hunger on.

The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2 is an interesting game, of the sort we only seem to get out of Japan, and really, out of NIS. An action RPG that has some balance, but really seems built with the idea that you're going to crack it over your knee like a man dressed as a bat, with all the wonderful systems it offers.

Let's talk premise, first, though. The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2, hereafter referred to as Hundred Knight 2, has a premise that is very...

I crossed out 'simple' a lot of times on my notes, it would seem.

Okay, it's not so simple. A world where magic is a disease, and where those ensnared by it are nigh-inevitably twisted into witches, Hundred Knight 2 does that cutesy-art-over-horrifyingly-dark thing that NIS loves. Our story begins with an innocent young woman, the last family her little sister has. When one day, that poor girl finds a slice on her forehead, one threatening to open into a third eye...

In actual gameplay, you play as the Hundred Knight themself...Or rather, a doll of the Hundred Knight, animated with magic into a familiar. As a small, adorable-ugly thing, you are surprisingly formidable in the art of battle; your core attack is a simple five-strike loop, with the key gimmick being that you can put a different weapon down for each of these attacks, using their different attributes to devastating effect. It actually reminds me a bit of the combo building system of God Hand back on the PS2, and that was my jam, so I'm sure enjoying it here too.

The other key gimmick, though, is what happens when you finish up that combo. You see that big vessel up in the top left of the UI in the screenshots? That's your GigaCalorie meter, and it's constantly running down. GCals function in a lot of different ways; you burn them to survive, as we all do. They burn slowly when you're running around, swiftly when you're in battle, and you cut into them a little more deeply when you dodge.

So long as you have GCals, you constantly have a slow-burn healing effect on you, which you can crank up with a click of L3. They also get drained deep if you run out of HP, in lieu of a total wipe of all the stuff you gained since the last time you returned to base. We'll get back to that.

But how do you regain GCals, then? Simple. If you successfully finish a combo, which is to say if the last hit actually strikes an enemy, you'll get a nice noted flash on the screen to hit L1. Do it and you'll race forward, strike an enemy, and if you kill them with it...You'll gobble them up. Bigger enemies give more GCals, as do catching multiple enemies in it, plus you get a bonus of AP for your skills. So landing those finishing blows is crucial, something you'll be working towards in just about every encounter.

Between the combos, the GCal system, and the skill system (it's your classic R1 + face button modestly-big-attack situation), you've got a decently meaty engine that settles into a nice loop. And then enemies drop loot, which all goes into the Hundred Knight's belly to be, presumably, vomited up when you get back to your homebase so it can actually go into your inventory proper. Bits to craft and upgrade with, new gear, all kinds of shiny things. But the only ones you can use when you get them are the healing items, so you've got that classic tension where the more you have, the more vulnerable you feel until you can get it all back home at a save point...

On a gameplay level, this is all fantastic. And the aesthetic in the field is great, too. It's very fairytale storybook gone wrong, though less "blood and guts everywhere" (though you will get plenty of technicolor blood) and more like just a hint of a bad trip. It actually reminds me a lot of the work by this one character in an anime who's an artist in videogames, but that's just too deep a tangent to go down here.

Mainly because...Okay, elephants in the room time. This is a very...late-night-anime kinda game. It's also a very NIS game. Some of what that means is very good. The humor's on point, the art looks great, the gameplay design is really solid. But on the other hand...Well...Look, one of the major characters is a witch in the body of a 9 year old girl, and she's not wearing a whole lot of clothing. This isn't the first time this sort of thing has gotten into an NIS game, either. And that's just the really obvious big elephant, without talking about the more complicated issues like the drag-queen raven.

I mean, here's the thing. I totally get it on every level if that bugs you enough that you can't enjoy this game. There's a reason that despite most of this review being gushing about the gameplay quality, I refused to put a Recommended on it. I guess I will say that this kind of thing is...In a lot of NIS's games, all the way back to when we all heard about them with Disgaea. Like, if you're familiar with them, you've either written off their internal titles, or you've made peace with this shit being in their games.

So. I mean, there it is. On a lot of levels, the game is very solid. If this damn girl's dress had a front half on it, I'd be having to ask myself whether I wanted to 'just' give it a firm Recommendation, or push it all the way up to a Must Buy. But with it as it is, I've got to kind of leave it in the air whether you should go for it at all. When you boil it down...Well, like I said. It's an NIS internal game. You either made peace with what that means, or you wrote them off a while ago. Whichever side of that coin you're on, this isn't gonna flip you to the other. Act accordingly.