Knights in the Nightmare Review
I used to have a subscription to Entertainment Weekly, but I canceled it after seeing movies I loved panned and films I'd never even heard of showered with praise. The high-minded film critics at EW always seemed to enjoy the obscure and bizarre simply because it was obscure and bizarre, whereas Average Joe moviegoers were left out in the cold. Apparently a film is only worth an "A" grade if it is playing at a single theatre downtown, has subtitles and makes absolutely no sense. Atlus' DS to PSP port of Knights in the Nightmare, a wildly complicated SRPG, is exactly like one of those art house films. One out of every hundred gamers will lavish praise on it simply because the game is a too-complicated mishmash of dozens of mechanics that don't work well together, and the rest of us will be left by the wayside, scratching our heads as to why or how anyone could get any enjoyment from such a trainwreck. Knights in the Nightmare may not feature a black and white clown flipping a pancake in slow motion or a gay cowboy eating pudding, but it will find fans in those who share the mindset of EW's hoity-toity movie reviewers – If I can't understand it, it MUST be good.
KitN (from here on out… this is much easier than typing out the whole thing) is the latest game from the people behind such personal favorites as Riviera: The Promised Land and Yggdra Union, the latter of which was included as a free download with the first printing of KitN. Like those games, the story is told through overblown anime characters' portraits and text, and the plot flows while you clear SRPG battlefield after SRPG battlefield. Said plot is actually interesting if you can follow it; you play as a little Navi-esque ball of light that revives fallen soldiers on the battlefield in a fight against some cleverly designed beasties. There are also kings, thieves and other ancillary characters that fall into the midst of the tale, but very few will actually make it far enough into the game itself to see the story really get going, let alone come to a close.
Ok, you've waited long enough. Lets talk about the gameplay. KitN is simply not a lot of fun to play. I'll do my best to explain things, but chances are you'll be as lost with my description as you will be with the game itself. The first red flag comes in the form of the game's tutorial. This monstrosity explains almost nothing clearly and lasts a whopping 45 minutes. After the yawn-inducing ordeal of watching the computer move things around on the screen, the game sneaks up on you, providing a shock akin to jumping into a swimming pool in your underwear in December. You finally have control of the wisp on-screen and you have absolutely zero idea what to do with it. It's an extreme example of how tutorials should never be put together.