|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Sting||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Atlus||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jun. 2, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Joseph Catalanotto
Any RPG fan worth their salt is probably familiar with the developer Sting or, at the very least, familiar with their work. Games like Yggdra Union and Riviera: The Promised Land became instant classics among fans of the genre. Now Sting brings their characteristically deep RPG approach to the DS with Knights in the Nightmare.
The result is absolutely wonderful. I'll admit that I'm a total sucker for most of Sting's work; it constantly brings new, interesting concepts to a well-trodden genre, and Knights in the Nightmare is certainly no exception. It has some core strategy RPG mechanics, but on top of all that, there are also some intriguing action and even top-down shooting components.
While Knights in the Nightmare is extremely impressive in terms of gameplay, it gets off to a bit of a rocky start in terms of plot. It's extremely generic, at least at first, and takes quite a while to get interesting. The plot eventually does ramp up, but it takes quite a while to do so. If you're a person who relies heavily on story elements to keep you engaged in a game, you may have trouble making it through the first few hours of Knights in the Nightmare.
You take control of the Wisp, which is capable of temporarily reviving dead warriors and, interestingly, is the only character in the game that can take damage. During the early stages of the game, you'll only use soldiers for single battles; however, as you get a little deeper into the game, you'll discover that you can use certain items to permanently revive soldiers and make them full members of your squad.
Like most RPGs, there are a lot of weapons, equipment, and items to be gathered by defeating enemies. However, the equipping system is unique. At the beginning of each skirmish, you can equip items on each of your characters, and items can be switched at will throughout the battle. Weapons also take a little time to recharge after use, so you'll have to strategically use the weapons you have so as not to be left without a usable weapon.
The weapon system is further convoluted by the Chaos/Order system. At anytime you want, you can change from Order to Chaos or vice versa. You'll be able to use certain weapons or items depending on whether you're currently in Order or Chaos mode. At the same time, switching might give the enemy a bonus in strength or defense, so you need to balance the risk and reward of switching modes. This is just another mechanic that adds another layer of strategy to the game.
Another really interesting implementation in Knights in the Nightmare is the fact that most of our characters are unable to move. You might think that this simplifies the game, because most SRPGs rely on both movement and action as major strategic mechanics. However, just because many of your characters cannot move does not mean that Knights in the Nightmare is less strategic; it's just strategic, but in a different way.
Each weapon has a certain attack radius; to attack, you'll simply hold the stylus over the warrior you want to use, then drag to a square that's in the weapon's attack radius that you want to target. Because enemies are constantly moving across a predefined path, if you release the stylus right when an enemy is in the square you're targeting, then you'll attack the enemy and presumably do damage.