Your blade isn’t the only weapon you get,
though, as Gretchen is able to cast spells. You pick up multiple spells along the way and you can assign any four spells to be used at any time. Once assigned you can use spells by holding RT and hitting A, B, X, or Y. After using a spell it must recharge before you can use that spell again. If an enemy is weak enough you might get a small QTE (quick time event), which is usually the B button in these cases, that’ll do extra damage to the enemy and possibly defeat it outright. As stated earlier you must keep Gretchen near you and out of danger or you can’t use spells since she’s the source of them. For the most part (at least on the easiest difficulty) this isn’t too hard, but if she’s in danger you’ll lose access to your spells until you free her from the danger she’s in. The more enemies you defeat and damage you do you can obtain points used to level up your spells. You can also obtain these points by smashing open some random crates and barrels you find lying around the stages. I’ll admit on Easy difficulty I got pretty far into the game and never had to level my spells at all, but I’m sure on the harder difficulties it’d be wise to level up the spells you use frequently.
This is where your escort may seem a bit stupid. During battle Gretchen will occasionally cast some small spells when enemies get near her. Yeah I know, she’s trying to help which is fine, but sometimes she just doesn’t know when to back away and winds up in trouble, and if you get too far away from her the enemies will begin to target her a bit if they’re near, so now you have to go back and help her while you’re being attacked. Not only that, but if you're not careful Gretchen's life can drain rather quickly and by the time you get back to her it's too late. It’s a good concept but the execution could be a bit better. The good news is that if Gretchen's life is low you can pick her up and carry her in your arms to regain her life. Several reviews I've come across noted this as something that irritated them, but if you're not fighting anything you might as well carry Gretchen and refill her life anyway.
The final thing I need to comment on are two other mechanics, one that’s interesting and one that’s annoying. The interesting mechanic is the quick time events, or QTEs. If you’ve ever played a God of War game then you know where this is going. At the end of each boss fight you have to get through a QTE that’s no less than four button presses or analog stick movements and you have only a couple moments to perform the correct action. If successful the boss will fall, but if not the boss will regain roughly one-third of its health. That’s not too bad and the actions for the QTEs are the same throughout the fight, so if you fail the fourth action and have to fight the boss some more the first three actions of the QTE will remain the same.
The annoying mechanic on the other hand is the timed events. This is when an icon appears at the top of the screen that has an arrow and five dots. You basically have a specific goal to perform before this timer runs out. The annoying thing though is that you don’t see the hand slowly moving to the next dot. Instead you proceed towards the goal for the event and after a while it switches to a cut scene showing where the goal is at, then goes back to the action with the arrow pointing at the next dot. This is especially annoying when you’re fighting a battle and are about to cast a spell when the cut-scene occurs and it can throw off your timing. I like the QTEs but the timed events I can do without.
Despite having some flaws here and there in regards to the controls and timed events, I still found my self enjoying the game as I went on, and some of the boss fights can be quite entertaining. Some of them are your basic boss fights where you just hit the boss as fast as you can while dodging whatever it throws at you, while others make good use of your spells and make you think quickly on your feet before the boss pounds you into a pulp. The only other flaws I found were minor, but still a slight annoyance. Even though Heinrich can't die, he can take enough damage to immobilize him for a short period of time, that short period being how quickly you can mash a button on the controller to get back up. While it's not that bad once you get use to it, you may find yourself doing more button mashing than fighting if you get too overwhelmed. The other issue I had was with one particular enemy: a floating witch-like ghost. Until you learn a ranged spell, these will be the bane of your existence as they're typically too high up to hit with your sword or most of your spells. This means waiting until they fly down to attack you, then you rush in to attack them before they fly back up. Even with the games flaws it was still an enjoyable game, but by no means perfect.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
Overall Knights Contract isn’t as bad as some of the reviews I’ve read. It’s got an interesting story, a control setup that’s not too hard to get used to (aside from the annoying lock-on mechanic), and the graphics and sound are nice, though the music can get repetitive after a while. You do have a map that you can use by hitting Back but it’s not the greatest map in the world as I found myself getting more lost when I used it. I don’t know if I’d pay $60 for Knights Contract so this might be one to rent before you make that decision to buy it. If you have a rental place near where you live or have a Game Fly subscription go ahead and give it a shot.
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