Knight's Contract Review
Xbox 360 | PS3
Knight's Contract Box Art
System: Xbox 360, PS3
Dev: Namco Bandai Games America
Pub: Namco Bandai Games America
Release: February 22, 2011
Players: 1
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p

The first two issues are intimately related. Boss fights can be a hair-pulling exercise in frustration as you struggle to avoid unreal barrages of insanely powerful attacks and watch in disbelief as Gretchen walks purposefully into them. The "RB" button is supposed to call Gretchen to you, but you can mash the RB until your index finger goes numb and still she'll be hanging out in the middle of a pool of hot lava or standing immobile under an oncoming lightning strike. When not actively trying to get herself killed, she'll drive you nuts urgently shouting, "Heinrich!" whenever you get a few steps ahead of her. What's funny is that late in the game, when she and Heinrich temporarily separate and you take control of her alone, she proves she's just as resourceful and lethal as he is. So...why did she need him in the first place?

Knight's Contract Screenshot

Just as infuriating as the reluctant AI is the confusing level design which sends you through village streets, sewer tunnels, and castle hallways that all look (respective to their level) exactly the same. For people with no sense of direction, this is a nightmare, especially since the game often asks you to go back to someplace you were before. The map is no help at all, since it doesn't reorient itself with you and most importantly, doesn't show your objective. As a result, it's all too easy to spend a good half-hour just running around and around, trying to figure out where you're meant to go next and seriously examining the real extent of your motivation to finish the game.

Interestingly enough, the first two issues are greatly reduced provided you play the game on easy difficulty. I played all the way through on the default "Squire" difficulty and then for grins, started over on "Page." On default, you'll get two hours in and wish you were never born, but on easy, Knight's Contract plays like a different game. Yes, the AI issues and possibility of getting lost are still there, but everything else is cranked back to a reasonable level that allows you actually enjoy yourself. Ultimately, it appears the game's problems would have been minimized had the development team not made such a grievous error in judging its default difficulty.

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It's really too bad this happened because overall Knight's Contract has a lot of good things going for it. It has fast, intuitive combat, cool, creepy environments, splashy visual effects, good music, solid voice acting, and a story that's fairly fresh, as far as action games go. The sad thing is that all that is undermined by bumbling AI, absurdly difficult and frustrating bosses, and a maze-like approach to level design. Anyone thinking of buying the game (or if you have it and are utterly frustrated with it) know that it's possible to overcome many of its faults just by changing the difficulty setting. That said, Namco should realize their mistake; default settings are critical and once gamers have gotten a bad taste in their mouth from a game, even changing difficulty might seem like more work than it's worth.

By Neilie Johnson
CCC Freelance Writer

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
4.0
Graphics
Creepy, imaginative environments and flashy visual effects are the stars of this show.
3.5
Control
Except for an unresponsive AI companion, controls are intuitive and easy to use.
4.0
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Music and voice acting do their part to pull us into a magical, medieval world.
2.0
Play Value
This score is highly dependent on the game's difficulty setting. Still, at default, the game is unacceptably frustrating.
3.0
Overall Rating - Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
Review Rating Legend
0.1 - 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 3.5 - 3.9 = Good 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair 4.0 - 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Sword & Sorcery - Combine Heinrich's razor sharp scythe and Gretchen's explosive witchcraft in battle to devastate enemies with fluid, fast-paced combinations to ultimately return civility to the land.
  • A guardian knight - As the Immortal executioner, players must team up with and protect Gretchen against hideous creatures and unspeakable evil as her magical prowess and mortality are the key to the duo's survival.
  • An unlikely duo - Heinrich, an executioner loyal to the law, was made to kill the witch Gretchen, who in her final moments cursed him with immortal life. Gretchen has been mysteriously resurrected and Heinrich, under contract, now fights alongside her as her guardian.
  • Medieval style - Explore a beautifully-recreated 17th century Europe amidst the lore of witches and magic where people are crippled by fear and wide-spread panic runs rampant.

  • Screenshots / Images
    Knight's Contract Screenshot - click to enlarge Knight's Contract Screenshot - click to enlarge Knight's Contract Screenshot - click to enlarge Knight's Contract Screenshot - click to enlarge Knight's Contract Screenshot - click to enlarge Knight's Contract Screenshot - click to enlarge Knight's Contract Screenshot - click to enlarge Knight's Contract Screenshot - click to enlarge Knight's Contract Screenshot - click to enlarge Knight's Contract Screenshot - click to enlarge

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