Developer: Game Republic / Publisher: Namco Bandai / ESRB: RP
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If you haven’t heard of Knights Contract, you probably aren’t alone. The upcoming dark fantasy, hack-and-slash action game from Namco Bandai has remained relatively under the radar since its announcement earlier this year. However, its absence from the media world doesn’t necessarily speak to its quality. After a recent hands-off demo of the game, it’s clear that, despite its derivative nature, Knights Contract will have enough of a unique flair to stand on its own.
Knight Contract, set in Germany during the Middle Ages, follows the story of a witch-hunter named Heinrich and a reincarnated witch named Gretchen. As it turns out, Heinrich was the one who originally killed Gretchen so naturally she puts an immortality curse on him. The story gets interesting when the land of Germany becomes enveloped by evil. The two must put their differences aside to take out the evil Dr. Faust. They’re a regular Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker.
For being directed so obviously at a western audience, Knights Contract still wears its Japanese origins on its sleeves. The game sports a dark, gothic aesthetic but with the flashiness you might expect from a game out of the east.
The third-person combat of Knights Contract should, for the most part, be pretty familiar. You’ll take control of Heinrich and use his big-ass sword to smash up spiky demons and fleshy, undead skeletons. From the looks of things, the game controls pretty similar to a God Of War or Devil May Cry game. The hook here is that although Gretchen will always be AI, you can command her to cast magic spells. Find yourself in trouble? Have Gretchen cast a fireball at your enemies. It’s an interesting dynamic that adds an additional level of depth your standard hack and slash may not have.
Believe it or not, having a magical AI sidekick does have its downsides. Heinrich must make sure that Gretchen stays alive. Because he is invincible, there is no threat to his life. However, Gretchen will go down rather quickly in her cloth armor. Luckily she isn’t a brain dead partner. As one of the developers put it, “she isn’t useless like Yorda from ICO.”
If Knights Contract is anything like previous games from Game Republic, it will be full of ambition. What can be said is that it takes some interesting ideas and ties them to a familiar formula. But to be fair the verdict will be out until we get some true hands on time.