Knights in the Nightmare is many things. For one, its a strategy game for the most hardcore of strategy game lovers. You know the ones. They've got Advance Wars: Dual Strike on them at all times. You can practically see their brains working as they quickly formulate plans in their heads. Those kind of people. Next, this game has probably some of the best storytelling in a DS game that we've seen in quite a while.In this game, you play as Wisp. Wisp is a disembodied spirit that must possess soldiers in order to interact with the physical world. It is guided by Marie, a Valkyrie with unknown motives. To sum up the story, it is Marie and Wisp's job to save a kingdom that is threatened by a demonic entity. All the while, the backstory (which expertly weaves political intrigue along with human emotion.) plays out through cutscenes. To achieve this goal, Wisp must recruit the spirits of fallen knights and use their skills in order to defeat the monsters that are lurking around.
Which brings us to the gameplay. To start off, I'll give you a warning: If you take your games with a side of easy, you will quickly become frustrated. Even on the easy mode, the difficulty of this game definitely takes a little bit of getting used to. It honestly takes quite a bit of planning in order to get through each round. And with this game, the enemies are the least of your worries. You have two things working against you during each round: time and projectiles. Time is definitely not on your side. Each round lasts around 50 sec., with actions shedding away a little bit of time, each time. To combat this, I can offer a little bit of advice: know your knights. Your knights add another layer to your strategy: Most of them are basic melee fighters, while others can use attacks (or cast spells) that affect a wide area of the map. Couple that with the different elemental weapons that each class can use, and the possiblities are infinite. Projectiles are another problem that your Wisp has to deal with. This aspect of the game definitely brings an element to the strategy-roleplaying genre that we haven't seen before. Just like in a shooter game, the Wisp must dodge projectiles that the enemies shoot out at him. Truly, Wisp's only enemy in the game. However, getting hit with these "bullets" does not cause you to die, rather it will cause you to lose precious seconds. In some of the later matches, not only do you have to kill the monsters, but you must also be constantly dodging bullets. Wisp will definitely have its hands full.
To help, the game has introduced a rather interesting system. At any given time during a match, the map might be in one of two phases: Law or Chaos. The weapons that you collect along the way are divided into two groups: ones that work in the Law phase, and ones that works in the Chaos phase. In order to change the phase, the player must change it by drawing the stylus on the touchscreen in a counter-clockwise manner. While tricky and needs some getting used to, once you get the hang of it, it allows you to quickly change the phase and attack on the fly. Also, the phase changes affect the way your knights can attack; certain units can attack within a wider radius when in a certain phase than in the other.
Last, but certainly not least, we focus on the graphics. Simply put, they're gorgeous, and can be seen as almost a spiritual successor to Riviera: The Promise Land (which would make sense, since this game is a part of the Dept. Heaven saga.). The only complaint that I would have (which is a miniscule one) is that it is quite easy to lose Wisp among the darker levels. But like I said, its a small complaint, and it doesn't detract from the game at all.
So, if strategy is your cup of tea, I would definitely think about picking this game up. While it's difficulty level might be jarring for some, the game lends you a hand by giving you a in-depth tutorial at the beginning of the game. And with the infinite possibities concerning weapon customization, you can spend hours playing the game and barely scratch the surface. Make sure to play the other games in the series (Yggdra Union and Riviera: The Promise Land) as well.
Score: 98 (A2)
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