Taking a stab at the action adventure genre made popular by the God of War series on the Playstation consoles, Namco is trying their luck with Knight's Contract. The story is a unique one; pairing up a hulking Knight cursed with immortaility and the witch that put him in that position. The Knight, by the name of Heinrich, was formaly an executioner and put the witch, Gretchen to death. After Gretchen rises from the dead, she pairs up with Heinrich to destroy all witches in the land that are being controlled by Faust. The presentation and quality of the story is decent and it does an excellent job of capturing your attention. It also sets up the concept of buddy missions, similar to Enslaved.
Unfortunately, the buddy concept is poorly executed in Knight's Contract, specifically because the developer couldn't properly program the aritifical intelligence of the poor witch. Rather than using Heinrich as a badass warrior, you are forced into using him as a meat shield for the idiotic girl that likes to run directly into enemies. Gretchen is a constant liability and the developer didn't impliment any co-op control to avoid the moronic A.I. It's one of the most annoying aspects of the gameplay. Combat is fairly slugish, mostly because Heinrich lumbers around and cannot jump. It's also monotonous and repetitive due to an overwhleming amount of enemies.
The boss battles are sprinkled throughout the game and offer up a slice of entertainment in the montony. It's very similar to the battles in God of War and you are required to memorize patterns to kick the crap out of the bosses. It can be annoying to complete as bosses recover health quickly if you fail at the instanced portion of the battle. There's no multiplayer mode included in the game, simply trophies for those that enjoy achievements. The majority of the tasks are related to story achievements and killing X number of enemies. It's a pretty basis set that's devoid of creativity or unique challenges.
The visual engine is actually well designed and can be outright meticiulous in regards to character models. Unfortunately, any achievement in design is negated by the terrible camera angles. I often fell prey to death because my character moved out of camera range during boss battles. It's frustrating to say the least and forces the player into thinking about where they can move safely. Invisibile walls would be preferable over this mess. I can commend the developer though for going to great lengths to create something unique, even within the adventure genre.
The musical score in the game fits the genre and definitely has a wild, adventerous feel. It's probably the best part of the presentation and defines the mood of the game with simple gusto. However, the voice acting is of fleeting quality due to the lack of charisma between the two main characters and a poor script. The more you play through the game, you more you will dread a new conversation between the two characters. The sound effects are passable, but forgettable.
Knight's Contract is pretty much the opposite of what gaming is suppoed to be; entertaining and escapism. Namco Bandai has failed to created anything that's actually enjoyable in Knight's Contract, likely due to poor QA and so many design revisions that the original concept of the game has mangled beyond all belief during the development process. It's absolutely frustrating to play through and ultimately joyless. From a review standpoint, it's depressing to see a promising presentation trampled over by horrific A.I. and mind-numbing combat. Knight's Contract isn't worth a purchase at the full MSRP or even a rental. Skip It.