Knights Contract Hands-On

We team up with a witch to find out who's really responsible for the Black Death.

Knights Contract bears some resemblance to Game Republic's recent title Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom by giving you a companion to help you along your quest; however, the similarities do end there because the pace is much faster and its content darker. It's a hack-and-slash set during the Middle Ages in a fictional European nation where the residents are being consumed by the Black Death. The story follows Heinrich, an executioner who once killed witches that were accused of being responsible for the plague on humanity. One hundred years later, Heinrich still walks the earth, cursed with immortality and searching for a way to die.

Because of the game's pacing and frequent cutscene storytelling, it's easy to get wrapped up in what's going on with Heinrich and the witches, who are somehow back again in various forms. Apparently, the last witch Heinrich executed was Gretchen, who cursed him right before he brought the blade down on her head. She is now resurrected in a younger woman's body and needs his help to destroy the other witches who have also come back for an entirely different purpose. It seems that all the other witches who have been wronged (we know of at least two) are out for revenge and looking to find a way to destroy the humans, whereas Gretchen is trying her best to stop her sisters from wiping out the human race. When Heinrich and Gretchen meet again, she seeks his help as a guardian and promises to lift the curse once he helps her take care of the other witches. However, there's a bigger story that would explain the occurrence of the Black Death; one that involves Dr. Faust, the man who initially gave the order to exterminate the witches.

Though Heinrich is immortal and can't die, he can become incapacitated if you take too much damage, and you will need to press the A button or X button to revive him. Gretchen's frail human body can't take too many hits at all, so your priority is to keep her alive or you'll have to start from your last checkpoint. Your female companion is controlled by the computer AI; however, you can use the right trigger and the D pad to access her witchcraft to help you in battle. Most of the spells we unlocked offered elaborate ways of stunning enemies so that we could swing our scythe in their direction. Enemies we've encountered consist of the walking dead, as well as walking trees that are controlled by some sort of evil magic. Your blade goes through relatively easily, and combat is swift and smooth as you tear up anything that gives you the evil eye.

The story is broken up into episodes, and there are save points in the levels so that even if you are defeated, you aren't set back too far. To regenerate health faster, you press the right bumper to hold Gretchen in your arms. This allows the two to heal and keeps her from getting hit. Some quick-time events will appear in boss fights, as well as combat, depending on what kind of combos you pull off with the witch. But for the most part, you'll be mashing those buttons and using Gretchen's powers. Each time enemies die, you collect their souls that can then be used to unlock additional witchcraft.

Button-mash your way through the walking dead.

Whether or not the story hooks you in, the gameplay is easy to pick up and fun. There are three levels of difficulty to choose from, but for the most part, it's a straight-up hack-and-slash. You do have an auto-lock to keep enemies in view, but it's fun to just wail away at the grotesque creatures that keep coming at you. The time frame of 17th-century Europe is fascinating--if somewhat depressing--to be exploring in, and we're curious to see how it all pans out.

Look for Knights Contract when it is released on February 22.

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69 comments
the-wayward
the-wayward

picture 2 .... attack grabbed enemy while grabbed ..... sounds funny ... somehow

Caduceus89
Caduceus89

Too many good games to choose from this year! This one will have to take a backseat to Dragon Age 2 and LA Noire.

Charliesix
Charliesix

Why no co-op? Seems like an obvious thing.

milad_DX
milad_DX

too bad does any one knows any good RPGs exept biowares

ironmonk36
ironmonk36

I would buy this if it came out a week or 2 earlier. Comes out the same day as Killzone 3, Bulletstorm and De Blob, and I am getting all of those. Maybee I will get this instead of Bulletstorm

Vrybrd
Vrybrd

This actually sounds pretty cool and sort of refreshing.. Has a bit of a darksiders feel to it and i really like the combat in Darksiders. You can't die but you want to, you are protecting someone who dies very easily and you fail without her.. sounds like some kind of cruel irony, i like it.. I may be tempted to buy this at retail price. The story makes or breaks this one in my honest opinion...

Roarzz
Roarzz

...Does anyone else sense some sort've... weird relationship that will develope between the two?

capncarl
capncarl

A tank-like hero who has to keep an AI-controlled character alive? Sounds more like Enslaved:Odyssey to the West. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I hope it's done correctly. Not enough interest for me to buy it at retail price though.

night-dreamers
night-dreamers

I dunno what to feel about this game namco bandai is making it and they usually don't localize their games.

drangel_jam
drangel_jam

It could be a genius idea to let a second player control the Mage. So people can play this game with casual gamers and still have the objective to protect them because they are frail and un-or-less skilled.

megakick
megakick

i love hack n' slash games there are good and bad games of every genre. the bodygaurd mechanic is becoming a trend, namco released 2.

DarkBuhamut
DarkBuhamut

@El_Esbirro go for mass effect 2, its just came on the ps3 and its half and half action/RPG too. Plus its made by bioware so you cant go wrong

WTF_NO_ID
WTF_NO_ID

this looks pretty good, but couldn't they have done better job with the hitting motions/feels? It looks like the guy is cutting through a paper or something.

El_Esbirro
El_Esbirro

@Amnesiac23: dude, am not saying bunnies are bad or anything...it's just the broad ammount of hack n' slash games that have been coming out or are about to come out, just seems really odd. Anyways, i prefer it way better than FPS..am not an RPG fan either, but i guess rpg's are less boring than FPS. Plus, am looking forward to playing an rpg soon...don't know which one yet, but am sure i wanna try one.

Jhedan
Jhedan

@vgdude887: While i do agree they should bring more Tales Of... games here, i do like that they invest in game development, otherwise we will be back in the days where only a few japanese games made it to America and the rest were sports games. Plus they create jobs that way ;)

megakick
megakick

looks more like bayonetta/ devil may cry/ the body gaurd.

Patrickbrown56
Patrickbrown56

Looks interesting. Won't be picking it up day one, will definitely try a demo (hopefully) and read the reviews. Overall, looks like fun though.

derpdragon
derpdragon

Oh hey look, another hack and slash game.

amjadmasri
amjadmasri

i kind of feel that this kind of game is always the same i want something diffrent dont you agree

FlashCharge
FlashCharge

Co-op play would have been great and would have added a lot to this game.

Dualmask
Dualmask

I would have liked to be able to play as the lady and/or have some kind of co-op. Game looks nice enough though.

vgdude887
vgdude887

Hey Namco, stop spending your money developing mediocre games like this and bring another Tales game out here. Vesperia sold better then Majin and Splatterhouse did, yet you still refuse to release more Tales games out here. Translating a video game costs much, much less then developing one.

wKmike
wKmike

It seems okay,Combat looks standard, Though invincibility and babysitting seem like bad choices. Good luck to this game

MrMagik33
MrMagik33

Until sumthing closes along and tops God Of War 3, my hack n slacks days are on hiatus but never the less, this game looks decent

Danaj528
Danaj528

hack n slash much? boring

Ffhawk
Ffhawk

Games looks cool but dang at least get sum1 that knows how to play he just ran right into the fire lol

Tidus1012
Tidus1012

this game looks good, i'm a fan of this type of games

iboo01
iboo01

looks ok but only if you ve got a lot of spare time

Asheileon
Asheileon

One more high on crack jap button masher, I thought we wear past this. Owell I loved Dynasty Warriors 4 in it's days so I guess it's just a matter of taste :)

Kserijaro
Kserijaro

lol who ever says the game looks bad gets a down finger. This is why gamespot is the suckiest game site ever- reviews are done by stupid kids.

Gomtor
Gomtor

Pre-ordered and looking fwd to it. Also deadspace2, killzone3, etc etc...

red-orc
red-orc

Been there, seen and done that felt millions of times, sorry.

JeeCore
JeeCore

looks so-so and will probably be a flop. Or maybe not..sometimes games surprises us in a good way.

Gliave
Gliave

Bring on the action adventure. Far too few developers are getting into this genre, and the ones that do don't exactly do a great job, and that includes the disappointing DMC 4, a franchise that died the day that part was released. This one doesn't look bad at all.

unbentonslaught
unbentonslaught

It should be fun, but it seems a little too familiar...