Home > Game Reviews > Review: White Knight Chronicles

Review: White Knight Chronicles

The game’s main character Leonard is a so-called pact-maker: one who can wield the power of an ancient Knight. When Sisna is kidnapped at the start, we are to suppose that the Black Knight is responsible. Leonard, of course, is the pact-maker of the White Knight, and so one of his special combat functions is to transform into said knight during a battle. The huge, heavy, clunky White Knight with his epic swords and devastating spells is quite satisfying to watch as he takes chunks out of a tough mob’s health gauge, and while you can’t train his skills or alter his command bar, you can change his equipment.

Of course, all good things must come to an end. The ability to do anything in combat is measured by each character’s mana (MP) and action chips (AC). Unlike in some RPGs, the characters’ health and mana regenerates slowly when not in combat, even when you are messing around in the menus or on the map, so there is no incentive to save mana potions or cut down on spell-casting in case of a future encounter. Action chips are another story. Some actions require mana, some require action chips, and some require both, indicated fortunately on the command bar icon for the action. AC does not regenerate except when you level and must be acquired either by drinking hard-to-find potions or by fighting with skills that don’t require AC. MP will be in notably short supply for the first half of the story until you’ve trained up a lot of passive MP gain skills – but AC will be in short supply all the time, and here comes the catch: to make a macro costs 1 AC per command when you cast it. To transform into the White Knight costs 7 AC. Therefore, tactical decisions have to be made about when to transform and when to wait, especially towards the end of the story when mobs with high damage output start to come thick and fast.

Mobs come in a nice even mixture of trash mobs, mini-bosses and real bosses. The mini-boss fights mix the action up nicely as you have to aim at specific body parts to find weak spots and they can take a lot more damage than regular mobs. The mini-bosses aren’t particularly difficult as such, but you will have to decide when it’s best to use the White Knight for a quick slaughter, and when to slog it out with your regular characters. It does get trickier when you have to deal with more than one at a time, however.

Once you’ve nailed the nuances of combat, the rest of the game’s learning curve is easy thanks to the excellent guided help which appears throughout the first 12-15 hours as new gameplay mechanics are unlocked.

Difficulty-wise, most players are not going to have too much trouble completing the story, as long as you spec and equip your characters properly. One tank, one healer and either one combo tank/healer or healer/damage dealer fully maxed out on their respective skill sets will make the majority of battles easy, although you still have to pay attention. Each town and dungeon usually has multiple save points so you’ll never be more than 10-15 minutes away from a safe area. There is a difficulty spike in the last few hours and you will need to get creative with switching characters often and micro-managing what is happening, but most of the time it is just a case of keeping your trained skills up to date on the command bar, choosing the relevant ones and pressing X (ice beats fire, fire beats ice, earth beats wind, wind beats earth – pretty simple). You’re only going to die while learning the controls and menus, and perhaps in the last couple of dungeons when there are a grueling number of back-to-back mini-bosses. If you fail to spec properly, however, this game is going to be quite nasty to you. While every character should have some basic heals and such, spreading out the skill points among different skill sets on your characters too much during the first play-through is a mistake, and you will be punished heavily for it.

It’s worth noting that most of the mobs are a bit dumb and the ones with elemental or status ailment effects rarely use them, although they do start to heal each other and dish out some powerful direct damage and area-of-effect attacks towards the end of the story.

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