Knights Contract

[Ignite 2011] Contract Disputes

Feeling the itch for another hack and slasher? Knights Contract has you covered, and we've got our hands-on impressions.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: February 4, 2011
You'll have to forgive the relative leanness of this preview, as we were only able to give Game Republic and Namco's upcoming medieval German swords and sorcery slasher a few minutes, but rest assured that the various storyline bits that cropped up rather often during our play session will indeed be explored further when we aren't stuck in the din of an underground event space.

Even still, we were able to glean the most basic of setups from the game, namely that burly knight-warrior-guy-man Heinrich has made something of a pact with a witch named Gretchen -- a witch, by the way, that he already killed and now she's back, cursing him in the process to become immortal. This creates something of an interesting conundrum for a dude that's really, really good at hacking away at enemies and can't die, but is shepherding a witch that absolutely can.

Gretchen must be protected (not that she's helpless; her spells that you have control over can lock down baddies or conjure up massive beasties from the netherrealm to munch on any enemies caught in the area of effect), but Heinrich really doesn't have to worry about in his end, leading to battles where charging in is plenty welcome, but may leave the girly open to attacks. That, if you haven't guessed, is a bad thing, as it only takes a few swipes to take her down, but hauling the witch onto your back can help to heal both parties and keep her safe from harm.

By and large, though, the game seems to concern itself mostly with just laying waste to enemies with a variety of simple light/strong attacks. Comparisons to God of War were made, not surprisingly, by others at the event, but whereas that game is a bit more about finesse and taking down enemies in fairly confined areas, Knights Contract seems a bit more open -- or at least more zoomed-in with its camera, easing some of the claustrophobic of SCEA Santa Monica's mythological epic.

One of the obvious sources of comparison beyond the similar combat is the game's soul currency, which is used to upgrade attacks (bracelets let Gretchen unleash stronger spells over time), but there are a few cute little wrinkles that have been thrown in. Being that Heinrich is immortal, if, say, someone happens to walk up and take over a demo without knowing the controls (aside from holding R2 to call up the spells with the face button, there's not a whole lot to understand, honestly), they might get hacked to bits and have to do a little button mashing to literally get it (or them, what with "them" being limbs) together.

Games like ICO and even Game Republic's own recent Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom have played around with the concept of an escort mixed with heavy combat, but without the story context, we're a little leery of seeing this one will turnout. With luck, it'll be the surprise hit that Majin was, but we'll hold off judgment until we can give the final game a whirl when it hits in just over two weeks.