Kombo’s Review Policy: Our reviews are written for you. Our goal is to write honest, to-the-point reviews that don’t waste your time. This is why we’ve split our reviews into four sections: What the Game’s About, What’s Hot, What’s Not and Final Word, so that you can easily find the information you want from our reviews.
What the Game’s About
White Knight Chronicles is the latest game to hit North American Shores from Level-5. Already out in Japan, WKC is a traditional JRPG with some innovative twists to update the gameplay. You start in the kingdom of Balandor where a silent princess is having a welcoming to society party that gets crashed and leads the protagonist, Leonard, on a journey that involves saving the world. What is unique to WKC, aside from fighting mechanics, is there is a Monster Hunter-like online system that incorporates parties to take on quests. You can also create your own town (like in previous Level-5 games) with shops and buildings that others can visit and restock on supplies. A lot is going on in WKC so sit tight as it’s time to sift through the good and the bad.
Level-5 has a history of traditional games with unique gameplay twists that make it feel like you are departing from the cookie cutter approach most JRPGs have with the genre. WKC is no different. With an engaging battle system that mimics an MMO game and feels more active than your typical turned-based fighting system, WKC brings a better level of interaction and control to RPG-style fights. There are many options and paths to develop your character. Customization can go deeper with a combo system that links your moves together in flashy ways to increase your damage output when you are trying to take down giant beasts.
WKC feels like a 16-bit game that happens to be next-generation. It has all the classic trappings of an endearing story with a typical cast of characters saving the world. Part of what makes WKC cool is the White Knight himself. The transformation to this ancient warrior opens up incredibly powerful attacks that seemingly always tip the balance in your favor if you save up enough of your Action Chip points. There are reasonable limits to the White Knight as well. If you are in a cave with low ceilings, you won’t be able to transform. It helps with the game’s overall balance since the White Knight is exceedingly powerful in nearly every situation you can use him in.
In addition to a large single player experience, there is a significant online mode that will extend the life of WKC. The approach decidedly cribs much from Monster Hunter with a lobby system and four-player quests but Level-5 evolves the formula to add their own unique brand. That twist is the GeoRama mode that unlocks early in the game. You collect building blocks during your main quest and those can be used to build a personalized town that acts as your lobby. The online quests don’t depart from the same bolt of cloth the main single player mode is made from. On the plus side, you will get to use your meticulously created character that feels like an underutilized asset during the main story. The main upgrade over the Japanese counterpart of WKC is the ability to use voice chat in online games. A major plus.
WKC is a good game, however it doesn’t come across as a completely throughout RPG. Game elements feel unfinished, which is uncharacteristic of a Level-5 game. Take the created character, for instance. The bleed over from the single-player game into the online mode didn’t exactly turn out that entirely well. There is a lot of time and effort used into creating him or her and when you start the story, so it is a huge let down when you always feel like the third wheel. When you go online and start to use the character, there isn’t a connection and it could be a random character for all you care.
The battle system is more engaging than your typical RPG but that doesn’t mean it works flawlessly. The user interface looks cluttered and the button mapping is confusing. It all works well when you figure out what to do, however, there could have been a less confusing way to stitch the elements of WKC together.
The common theme that comes up time and time again in WKC is the fact that there are many fabulous ideas. The problem lies with the fact that many of these ideas aren’t complete ideas. Nearly every corner of the game you can find an area that could use more time and polish. From the created character to the online mode to the story, there is room for improvement everywhere. Level-5 is known for creating some of the most unique and polished RPGs developed so it is particularly jarring to see WKC in the state it is in. Take a look at some of the past trailers from TGS shows and you’ll wonder what happened to that game instead of the one you are playing.
WKC isn’t a bad game. It is a disjointed game. There are so many things included that none of them were able to get the attention they deserved. Through the fog, WKC still manages to be fun and a good RPG experience thanks to the natural charm and level of talent Level-5 is capable of. WKC isn’t a game changer but it is solidly built not to disappoint too sorely.