Review: Knights in the Nightmare (DS)June 25th, 2009 | Written by Danreb Victorio | Topic: Nintendo DS, Reviews
For DS and Japanese RPG fans alike, Atlus has been a godsend. A new RPG is released almost every month, and while not everything that comes out of the publisher is a classic, they still release a very good game every now and then. Knights in the Nightmare is a unique game that may end up being the next underrated classic.
At first glance, the game may seem like any isometric strategy game, but it is far from that. In fact, it’s probably the most fast-paced RPG available on the DS. The game puts players in control of a wisp that has the power to call upon fallen soldiers to protect the land from the havoc wreaked by evil. So while the game looks like an isometric strategy game, nothing is really turn-based since you really don’t have full control over the zombie knights summoned to do your dirty work.
Since there is so much to talk about with this battle system (you learn new things even after 40 hours of gameplay), this review will only go about with an abridged description. As stated earlier, all players can actively control is a wisp, and in turn, the wisp is in control of summoned zombie knights. With that, the only way to lose a battle is have the wisp defeated. The wisp is controlled completely by moving your stylus around the touch screen. The wisp can then make commands to the knights simply by sliding the stylus on the touch screen so that the wisp is touching a unit. The longer the stylus is held down, the more destructive a knight’s attack becomes. When releasing the stylus, the knight will then attack. A successful attack will result in a bunch of gems popping out of each enemy, and it’s the wisp’s job to accumulate these gems in order to use more powerful attacks.
As for defense, there’s no need to worry about the knights, because they’re dead anyway. The enemies on the battlefield will launch projectile attacks all over the screen, and the player has to skillfully guide the wisp along the screen to avoid these attacks. At times, enemies can also be out of range, so when this happens, a phase change is needed, which is done by moving the stylus to the right side and scribbling on the phase crest. There are two phases in the game, standard and chaos, and each phase has its proper color code. Some enemies can only be defeated under specific phases, so players will often be switching phases to adapt to any given situation.
Of course, with strategy games, it’s best to make preparations before each lengthy battle. It’s before each fight in Knights in the Nightmare that will determine how easy or hard each battle will be. You’re allowed to equip up to four weapons for the fight, and at the beginning of the game, you’ll already have an extremely high amount of weapons to choose from, including battle axes, spears, magic staves, and other weapons with elemental value. In addition to just weapons and armor, you’ll have more freedom to do as you please before battle as you progress through the game.
If the previous three paragraphs had a lot to digest, that’s because there is simply all sorts of options in this game. On top of that, the story is extremely complicated due to the amount of characters there are in the main story. While the story itself is pretty solid, the storytelling itself is sort of flawed as the game jumps from character to character. Of course, like most of Atlus’ RPG’s, the game does a great job of tying things up at the end, having everything make sense. But in order to get the most out of the game, extreme patience is needed.
Knights in the Nightmare is a visual masterpiece. There aren’t any prerendered cutscenes that take advantage of any of the DS’ special movie-playing codecs, but the environments are pretty lush and the hand-drawn character designs are superb. This isn’t your typical adolescent story that you find in any Japanese RPG. The story itself is pretty dark and there’ll be tragedy left and right, and the visuals definitely do its job to tell the story well. Those who buy the game at a GameStop or GameCrazy will also get a bonus book of artwork, to see how progress was made to make the game as good as it looks now.
While Atlus has surprised DS owners by including voice acting in a handful of its games, including Luminous Arc, Knights in the Nightmare doesn’t really have that much. Granted, it’s not always a good thing to have voice acting, but Atlus definitely made up for it with the game’s marvelous musical score. Aside from just the game’s great soundtrack, the sound effects are pretty much what you’d expect from any DS game. Also, like the art book, the game comes packaged with its limited-edition soundtrack.
Knights in the Nightmare isn’t a game that everybody will love simply because it’s one of the most complex games ever to be released. There is no game to really compare it to, except for maybe Ikaruga, and that’s not even an RPG. It’s a clichéd statement, but in order to really get the game and understand it for what it is, you have to try the game. But buyers beware: not only is the game extremely complicated, but if you’re not into what the game has to offer for the first few hours, you’ll get turned off completely. So if you rent it, allot yourself a couple hours with the game first (not including the game’s super lengthy tutorial that you really should do first). Knights in the Nightmare is a game you have to get used to, and once you do, it’s hard to really have a more compelling experience. Besides, not only is the game good, but the free art book and soundtrack are even better bonuses.