Princesses are so annoying. You could bind and gag one, cast invisibility on her and drop her in the middle of the arctic with a raft of killer robotic polar bears as bodyguards, and she’d still find a way to get kidnapped by an evil knight or eaten by a hungry gorilla.
This time it’s Sisna – the daughter of the King of Balandor – who’s not been paying attention to who she’s been adding on Facebook, let her personal details slip and it’s off for incarceration by the evil Magi cult for her. Check Balandor in your atlas if you don’t know where it is; it hasn’t been on the news much lately.
In seriousness, what we have in White Knight Chronicles is a highly entertaining and very under-rated RPG which blends together aspects of JRPGs and MMORPGs in an interesting and somewhat unique way. This review has taken some time to prepare: White Knight Chronicles is a substantial game which demands a substantial review. One does have to wonder about the wisdom of releasing a new RPG just 2 weeks before Final Fantasy XIII; however, once you’re through with the latter, you may come back to White Knight Chronicles again and again.
In WKC you control your main character – which you can create and customize extensively – plus up to 6 others who come and go during the course of the storyline, with a maximum of 3 in your combatant party at any one time. There are no classes as such, instead each character has 8 EVE Online-style skill sets which can be trained up using skill points you acquire upon leveling, in any distribution of your choosing. Most of the skill sets are in the use of particular weapons (swords, longswords, bows, axes, spears and staves), with Divine Magic for healing, buffs and debuffs and Elemental Magic for those direct damage mage spells. Only your main can train up all eight sets – the story characters have a choice of 6 each, which limits what you can use them for.
At the start of the game you arrive in Balandor, your home town. All the other areas of the game start locked, but as you proceed through the story they will gradually open up on the world map (accessible at save points) and you can then move around freely as you wish. There are several towns and in the region of 15-20 dungeons to explore, although some are part of the story only and not available on the map afterwards. The story is quite boring and formulaic – it has a few moments, especially in the second half of the game – but I frequently ignored the cut scenes and used the time to make coffee while they played (they can be skipped if you wish). One saving grace to the story is that it does have a number of humorous moments, and the developer’s aren’t afraid to poke fun at the genre from time to time – a few giggles are sure to arise. The standard mix of dungeon crawling broken up by cut scenes applies here as expected.