Knights Contract Review

Knights Contract

There’s a level of primal satisfaction inherent in any game in which the central task is hacking down hordes of enemies with large, medieval weaponry. In some ways, Knights Contract nails this aspect of play, complete with a burly protagonist, magical combos, and fairly extravagant finishing animations. However, thanks to extensive loading, sloppy level design, unexciting writing, and some tiresome combat routines, the game does falter in enough ways to degenerate the overall experience into more of a chore than a leisurely pursuit.

Knights Contract is unique in that the player takes control of an immortal warrior, Heinrich, who seeks to remove the "curse" of eternal life. This means that no matter what happens to the former executioner, from knock-out to dismemberment, repeatedly mashing a button on the controller will bring him back to full functionality. It also means that someone involved in this story must have a limited lease on life, and that leaves players to participate in a feature-length escort mission with a tiresome companion, Gretchen.

Gretchen is the very witch whose execution at the hands of Heinrich years before left him cursed with immortality, and she seeks Heinrich’s help to stop her many "sisters," all of whom have been resurrected by the evil Dr. Faust in an effort to exact revenge on humanity. It is the witches’ code to harm none, and Gretchen still sees some good in those who had previously been so damning — enough to promise to remove Heinrich’s curse should he protect her on her quest.

Knights Contract

Whether it’s waiting for her to follow Heinrich, rescuing her from some enemy’s grasp, or carrying her around to restore both characters’ life meters, constantly attending to Gretchen is equally enjoyable as it sounds: not very, save for her additions to combat. She is indeed useful in combat, and her magic ends up being the only way to attack, or at least the most often utilized. Up to four (out of six) upgradeable spells can be hotkeyed to the controller’s face buttons and unleashed at any time that Gretchen is not in a monster’s clutches, but are subject to a cooldown period. Once an enemy is worn down enough, a quick button prompt allows Heinrich to piggyback off of the last spell to execute a flashy, if visually congested, finishing maneuver. These are enjoyable despite the wildly busy graphics during their execution, and help players scurry along through combat a bit better than if they had to rely on Heinrich or Gretchen alone. Playing without the tandem moves, which is required at times, makes combat become slow and stale; Heinrich’s mobility and actions in particular leave much to be desired when considering the major players in the genre (i.e. Dante, Kratos, Bayonetta, War).

Knights Contract‘s level design and player direction is also less elegant than much of what consumers have already seen this generation. The levels, which maintain a fairly homogeneous look within each, can be maze-like and demotivating with little indication of where to go next, leaving Heinrich wandering around just hoping for the next black loading screen. These are so frequent that they are initially surprising, and soon become comical.

Knights Contract

Technical difficulties continue with flicker, pop-in, and the tendency of character models to get caught up on nothing, like the boss monster who walks on thin air with the deformed concrete it was supposed to land on also attached to its feet, suspended high above Heinrich. Such encounters are for the most part enjoyable, though, and feature interestingly designed, large-scale opponents and often epic finishing sequences. Unfortunately, these sequences include unforgiving quick-time events, and failure at any point spits players back into the fray with a significant chunk of enemy health restored. This can be frustrating, indeed.

On a positive note, the game’s music is implemented quite well in places, and does a good job conveying the intended tone of many scenes. Voice work, though, is inconsistent across roles, and like the oversaturated, low-detail graphics and boring color palatte, never stands out as particularly impressive.

Knights Contract can be enjoyable; its combat system is rough but unique, and the narrative’s general premise is different enough to be interesting from a general point of view. However, once players get into the thick of play, the questionable AI, level design, combat mechanics, and even visuals will make it more difficult to feel comfortable with. The game does have its few saving graces, but extended play can make one feel strangely familiar with Heinrich’s circumstance, knowing all too well what it’s like to want to see the last of Knights Contract‘s world. UPC: 722674210331, 722674110303

2 out of 5


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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