The original White Knight Chronicles was met with relatively poor reception. With tons of additional content and a remastered version of the original, does White Knight Chronicles II deserve a spot in your gaming collection?
White Knight Chronicles II is an extremely deep and rich role-playing experience; however it has more than its fair share of problems. Japanese role-playing games during the course of this generation have been destroying themselves with cliché stories and redundant gameplay mechanics. White Knight Chronicles II is hardly a move away from either one of these, but to be fair there’s a lot to love. WKC II is dragged down by a lot of issues both big and small which include extremely poor level design, clunky menus, and a very light tutorial section.
The story continues a year after the events of White Knight Chronicles. A new threat has emerged from the rebuilt Yshrenia Empire as it sets its sight on world domination. Lenoard must drive back the invading force with the help of old and new friends alike.
For those that completed the original White Knight Chronicles it’s possibly to import your original character, however stats are reset to level 35; which is a minor inconvenience for fans and players of the original. Those new to the series (White Knight Chronicles II includes a remastered version of the original) will have to try their hand at creating a character from scratch. There’s a ton of options and it can be all a bit overwhelming, though hardcore fans will no doubt enjoy the vast amount of choices. Granted if you’re already familiar with White Knight Chronicles than the character creation will be nothing new. In fact, the character creation is essentially exactly the same with the exception of a few more options.
The first few hours in White Knight Chronicles II will be spent tinkering with skill sets, equipping loot, and trying to get a thin grasp on the huge amount of complexity the game offers. In fact, I’d encourage anyone new to the series to at least take a few hours trying to get a grasp all of the depth WKC II has to offer. My main issue with all of the complexity is that Level-5 did a poor job of explaining all of the depth to players. It’s really fantastic that there’s so many skills, and levels to the combat, however the new-comers will be left scratching their head. The menu is also clunky, though not game-breaking. White Knight Chronicles II expects you to micromanage, but doesn’t give you the tools to make it a smooth experience. Using items and switching characters can be a chore, and is critical during some of the tough boss battles.
One major issue that severely hurts White Knight Chronicles II is its level design. Dungeons are recycled, and in certain situations force you to take needless routes rather than just backtracking. Paths that were open originally will close off for seemingly no explanation, and the game remains extremely cryptic about where the player should proceed next. There’s also no way to avoid any of the random encounters so the player is basically forced to grind.
Thankfully it’s not completely devoid of fun, due to the solid combat system, though there are some obvious issues with it. While the sequel does sport some nice changes, like providing new skills to jump into combat quicker, and a faster combat system in general; it unfortunately still has some nagging issues. One of the brand-new features to grace White Knight Chronicles II’s combat system is the ability to create and customize your own Knight. This is great, however it takes way too long before players are able to do this, and requires a large investment of your time.
Playing online is where WCK II really shines. Players are able to create their own towns, and engaging with a group of fellow heroes is a lot of fun. Using the online function is a must for anyone that enjoys co-op, as White Knight Chronicles II has some of the best offered on a console. Does it retain all of the issues with singleplayer? Yes, but adding players eager to slay monsters makes the experience much more enjoyable.
Buyer Beware: Each new copy of the game comes with a single redemption code for a “Geonet license.” Each license is tied to an individual PSN account, so playing on another account will require an additional investment.
White Knight Chronicles II is a grinder’s dream, and with an extremely smooth online mode, there’s a lot to love. Unfortunately, on the opposite side of the coin there’s an equally amount of frustrating things that keep WKC II from really shinning. For anyone looking for a deep RPG, with great multiplayer elements, than this title is likely to fill the void, however if you’re looking for something different its easily forgettable.
For more information on how we review games check out our criteria here. A copy of this game was provided to The Paranoid Gamer by the publisher for review purposes.